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Joe Louis. By Adam Kidd. Joe Louis was one of the greatest of all heavyweight fighters.

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joe louis

Joe Louis

By Adam Kidd


Joe Louis was born in Lafayette, AL on May 13, 1914. He was born Joseph Louis Barrow. He was the son of an Alabama sharecropper. He grew up poor. He even had to share a bed with two siblings. His father died when Joe was very young. His mother remarried, and they moved to Detroit in 1924.


Joe was not very good in school. His mother gave him money to take violin lessons, but he used that money to take boxing lessons. He shortened his name from Joseph Louis Barrow to Joe Louis. He entered his first boxing tournament when he was 16.


Joe won 50 of 54 amateur fights. In 1934, at age 19, he became a National Light Heavyweight Champion. He also turned professional in 1934.


After winning 27 straight professional fights, Louis lost to Max Schmeling in June 1936. He was knocked out by Schmeling in the 12th round. A year later, Louis won the Heavyweight crown at 23 years old when he won a fight against James Braddock by knockout. He held the Heavyweight Champion title until 1949.


Louis and Schmeling

On June 22, 1938, there was a rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. Louis had become popular among whites and blacks. Both blacks and whites were pulling for Louis to win this fight.


Joe Louis was an American. Max Schmeling was from Germany. In this rematch fight, Louis symbolized American Democracy, and Schmeling symbolized a Nazi Germany. Louis defeated Schmeling in the first round by knockout. Louis became a national hero. Everyone liked him because he was a good fighter and also because he was very sportsmanlike. Because of Louis, more blacks became involved in sports.


Joe Louis defended his Heavyweight Champion title many times before going into the army for World War II.


Louis retired an undefeated champion on March 1, 1949. He came out of retirement in 1950 to fight Charles Ezzard. Louis lost this fight in 15 rounds.

Louis won 67 professional fights and 53 of them were by knockouts. He lost 3 professional fights.

Louis died on April 12, 1981 at the age of 66 from heart failure.


Joe Louis Monument in Detroit.

Louis was the first boxer

honored on a postage stamp.


Information and photos from the following websites: