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JOE LOUIS

BOXER (1914-1981)

The legendary "Brown Bomber" is considered by many to be the finest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.  He held the world's heavyweight title from June 22, 1937 until June 25, 1948 and made a division-record 25 successful title defenses.  Born in Alabama Louis moved to Detroit as a child and began boxing at the Brewster Recreation Center.  In his first amateur bout, Louis was knocked down seven times.  But he improved rapidly.  He captured the 1934 National AAU light heavyweight crown and turned pro later that year. 

Louis won his first 27 fights, 23 by knockout, beating the likes of former heavyweight champions Primo Carnera and Max Baer and contenders Paolino Uzcudun and Natie Brown.   But in his 28th fight, Louis met defeat.  He faced another former heavyweight champ, Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium, and was knocked out in the 12th round.  Louis rebounded from the defeat and won seven straight bouts including victories over Braddock on June 22, 1937 in Chicago's Comiskey Park.  Although he was dropped early in the bout, Louis rose from the canvas to score an eighth-round knockout.  He became the first African American to win the heavyweight title since Jack Johnson in 1908. 

Revised: July 18, 2013.