Joe Louis

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Louis, Joe

(Joseph Louis Barrow) (lo͞o`ĭs), 1914–81, American boxer, b. Lafayette, Ala. His father, a sharecropper, died when Louis was four years old, and in 1926 his stepfather took the family to Detroit, where Louis became interested in boxing. At 18 he began an amateur career in the ring. After winning (1934) the National Amateur Athletic Union light heavyweight title, Louis turned professional. In a meteoric rise, Louis—with magnificent physique, lightning punches, and stolid calmness—fought his way from the ranks of beginners to become (1937) the world heavyweight champion by knocking out James J. Braddock in the eighth round at Chicago. In 1938 he knocked out Max SchmelingSchmeling, Max
(Maximilian Schmeling), 1905–2005, German boxer. He debuted as a professional fighter in 1924 and came to the United States in 1928. Two years later the methodical slugger beat heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey (by a foul) to become Europe's first world
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—who had been the only man ever to defeat Louis (by a 12-round knockout in 1936) in professional boxing—in the first round in New York City. By the time he announced his retirement from the ring in 1949, Louis, often called the "Brown Bomber" by his admirers, had won 60 bouts, 51 by knockouts, and defended his title a record 25 times, scoring 21 knockouts. Louis came out of retirement in 1950, lost a decision to Ezzard Charles, and was knocked out (1951) by Rocky MarcianoMarciano, Rocky
, 1924–69, American boxer, b. Brockton, Mass. His real name was Rocco Francis Marchegiano. Failing to become a professional baseball player, Marciano turned to boxing and won 27 of 30 amateur bouts before he turned professional in 1947.
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, after which he retired. In 71 professional bouts Louis was defeated only three times.

Bibliography

See his autobiographies (1947, 1978); biographies by C. Mead (1985), R. Bak (1996), and R. Roberts (2010); L. A. Erenberg, The Greatest Fight of Our Generation: Louis vs. Schmeling (2005); D. Margolick, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink (2005).

Louis, Joe (b. Joe Louis Barrow)

(1914–81) boxer; born in Lafayette, Ala. His reign as heavyweight champion of 11 years, eight months, is the longest in boxing history (1937–49). He turned professional in 1934 and won the heavyweight title in 1937 with a knockout of James J. Braddock in the eighth round. He defended his title 25 times, a record for any weight division, and posted a career record of 68 wins, three losses, with 54 knockouts. Nicknamed, "The Brown Bomber," he was a devastating puncher with either hand. His grace and seeming invincibility inspired African-Americans and won him fans throughout the world. Poor management of his earnings, however, left him practically destitute in his later years and he was often dependent on charitable gifts and such jobs as a "greeter" at a gambling casino. His autobiography, Joe Louis: My Life, was published in 1978.