International Boxing Hall of Fame

Joe Louis

"The Brown Bomber"

  

 

 

Joe Louis
Statistics
Real name Joseph Louis Barrow
Rated at Heavyweight
Height 6'2"
Reach 193 cm (76 in)
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Birth date 13 May 1914(1914-05-13)
Birth place La Fayette, Alabama,
USA
Death date 12 April 1981 (aged 66)
Death place Las Vegas, Nevada,
USA
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 72
Wins 69
Wins by KO 55
Losses 3
Draws 0
No contests 0

Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914April 12, 1981), better known as Joe Louis, was a heavyweight boxing champion. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, he is considered to be one of the greatest champions in boxing history. Louis held the heavyweight title for over 11 years, more than anyone else before or after him, recording 25 successful defenses of the title. In 2003, Ring Magazine ranked him No. 1 on its list of 100 greatest punchers of all time. In 2005, Louis was named the greatest heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization.[1] He participated in 27 heavyweight championship fights, a record which still stands.

In the turbulent era during World War II, he became a national hero in America, partly because of his comment about the Allies, "We're gonna win 'cause we're on God's side".

Biography

Early life and career of Joe Louis

Louis was born in La Fayette, Alabama, son of Barry Jerry Barrow, a sharecropper, and Lilly Louis. He had a successful amateur career which he ended with winning Michigan's Golden Gloves title. He turned professional in 1934, making his debut on July 4 of that year, knocking out Jack Kracken in the first round itself at Chicago, Illinois. He won 12 fights that year, all in Chicago, 10 by way of knockout. Among his opponents in 1934 were Art Sykes and Stanley Poreda.

Originally, Louis' trainer, Jack Blackburn, wanted him to only fight other African-American boxers. Louis, however, decided to ignore this advice, and fought white boxers as well.

Ascendance

In 1935, Louis fought 13 times, creating history. He knocked out the former world heavyweight champion, the 6'6", 265-pound Primo Carnera, in six rounds. Louis then knocked out the iron-chinned former heavyweight champion Max Baer in four rounds. Before losing to Louis, Baer had been knocked down only once, by Frankie Campbell. Louis also knocked out Paolino Uzcudun, who had never been knocked down or out before.

In his next fight, he was matched with former world heavyweight champion Max Schmeling. Although not considered a threat, the German had studied Louis' style intently, and believed he had found a weakness. By exploiting Louis' habit of dropping his left low after a jab, Schmeling handed Louis his first loss by knocking him out in round 12 in Yankee stadium.

Louis, despite the loss, was awarded a title shot by champion James J. Braddock after negotiations with Madison Square Gardens number 1 contender Schmeling broke down. Braddock, looking to retire on a large payoff, was promised a more lucrative fight with the Brown Bomber after Louis bounced back up the pecking order by knocking out former champion Jack Sharkey.

Schmeling (and the Nazi German government) were furious, and insisted that a win over highly ranked Sharkey did not reverse the Louis defeat by Schmeling, which was considered a title eliminator. The matter was settled in court, and Madison Square Garden and Schmeling lost. The fight was staged in Chicago, and Braddock's heavyweight championship would be up for grabs. Despite a knock down in round 1, Louis defeated the "Cinderella Man" by KO in round 8. Joe Louis was heavyweight champion of the world.

The Louis-Schmeling Fight, 1938

The rematch between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling is one of the most famous boxing matches of all time, and is remembered as one of the major sports events of the 20th century. Following his defeat of Louis in 1936, Schmeling became a national hero in Germany. Schmeling's victory over an African-American man was touted by Nazi officials as proof of their doctrine of "Aryan superiority."

When the rematch was scheduled, Louis retreated to his boxing camp in upstate New York and trained incessantly for the fight. A few weeks before the fight, Louis visited the White House, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt told him, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany." Louis later wrote in his autobiography, "I knew I had to get Schmeling good. I had my own personal reasons and the whole damned country was depending on me." Comedian Dick Gregory jokenly said that it was "probably the first and only time in history that a black man could end up being a white hope".

When Schmeling arrived in New York in June, 1938, for the rematch, he was accompanied by a Nazi party publicist who issued statements that a black man could not defeat Schmeling, and that when Schmeling won, his prize money would be used to build tanks in Germany. Schmeling's hotel was picketed by anti-Nazi protesters in the days before the fight.

On the night of June 22, 1938, Louis and Schmeling met for the second time in the boxing ring. The fight was held in Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 70,043. It was broadcast by radio to millions of listeners throughout the world, with radio announcers reporting on the fight in English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Before the bout, Schmeling weighed in at 193 pounds; Louis weighed in at 198� pounds.

The fight lasted two minutes and four seconds. Louis battered Schmeling with a series of swift attacks, forcing Schmeling against the ropes and giving him a paralyzing body blow. (Schmeling later claimed it was an illegal kidney punch.) Schmeling was knocked down three times, and only managed to throw two punches in the entire bout. On the third knockdown, Schmeling's trainer threw in the towel and referee Arthur Donovan stopped the fight.

Louis's victory was seen as a major victory for America. The German press recounted Schmeling's story that Louis had won the bout thanks to an illegal kidney punch. But in America, and throughout the world, Louis's victory was seen as a major rebuff of German claims of racial superiority.

Ironically, while most people associate the German Schmeling with the Nazi party, he never joined it, and indeed once refused to accept an award from Adolf Hitler. His resistance of the Nazi party made him a hero in post-war Germany, and he became a life-long friend of Joe Louis. Their rivalry and long-lasting friendship is the main focus of the 1978 TV movie Ring of Passion.

Other matches

From December 1940 to March 1942, before his career was shortly interrupted by World War II, Louis defended his title ten times, a frequency unmatched by any heavyweight champion since the end of the bareknuckle era. His nearly-monthly fights against every challenger, and his convincing wins, earned his opponents the unfair group nickname "Bum of the Month."

In all, Louis made 25 defenses of his heavyweight title from 1937 to 1949. He was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Louis set records for any division in number of defenses and longevity as world champion non stop, and both records still stand. His most remarkable record is that he knocked out 23 opponents in 27 title fights.

Other notable title defenses before Louis enlisted were:

  • His fight versus world Light Heavyweight champion John Henry Lewis, knocked out in the first.
  • His fight with "Two Ton" Tony Galento, who knocked Louis down in the third round with a left hook. Giving Galento a terrible beating, Louis knocked Galento out in the fourth round.
  • His two fights with Chilean Arturo Godoy. In their first bout Louis won by a decision, and then Louis won the rematch by a knockout in the eighth round.
  • His fight with world light heavyweight champion Billy Conn. Conn, smaller than Louis, said that he planned to "hit and run," prompting Louis's famous response, "He can run, but he can't hide."[2] After 12 rounds, Conn was ahead on points, only to be knocked out by Louis in the 13th round.

 During World War II

Joe served in the Army from 1942 to 1945 and spent that period traveling around Europe visiting with the troops and boxing in exhibitions. During this time, he donated over $100,000 awarded to him from these fights to the Army and Navy Emergency Relief Funds to show his support for the U.S. war effort. However, this income was fully taxed by the IRS, and this left him with serious tax debts. Even the $600 left to him by his dying mother was seized by the IRS.[3]

When asked about his decision to enter the racially-segregated U.S. Army, Louis's explanation was simple: "Lots of things wrong with America, but Hitler ain't going to fix them." During his time in the army, Louis used his connections in the State Department to get his friend Jackie Robinson and several other black soldiers admitted into Officers' Candidate School � a favor for which Robinson was especially grateful. Louis himself received the rank of Sergeant, and was awarded the Legion of Honor medal for his service.

Louis became a national spokesman for the Army, encouraging African-American men to enlist in the Armed Services, in spite of the racial segregation. He became a highly-visible symbol of the contributions of African-American soldiers to the war effort.

In 1943, Louis made an appearance in the wartime Hollywood musical This Is the Army, directed by Michael Curtiz. Louis appears as himself in a musical number, "The Well-Dressed Man In Harlem," which emphasizes the importance of African-American soldiers, and promotes their enlistment.

Retirement and later life

 

In 1946, following his war service, Louis returned to the ring for a rematch against Billy Conn. He won by a knockout in the eighth round. In 1947, Louis faced Jersey Joe Walcott. During the fight, Walcott scored two knockdowns over Louis but lost a disputed decision. In a rematch held in 1948, Walcott again knocked Louis down, but the aging Louis came on to knock out Walcott in the 11th round.

On March 1, 1949, Louis announced his retirement from boxing. In his matches with Conn and Wolcott, it became obvious that he was no longer the fighter he once had been. In 1951, plagued by debts to the IRS, Louis attempted a comeback. He fought Ezzard Charles, but lost on a decision after a 15-round bout.

On October 26, 1951, Louis faced Rocky Marciano. Although he was a 6-5 betting favorite, people in boxing that really cared about Louis pleaded with him not take the fight, fearing his unwillingness to quit would get him seriously hurt or even killed at the hands of Marciano. Fighting back tears, Ferdie Pacheco said in the SportsCentury documentary about Louis' life, "Everyone knew he wasn't just going to lose. He was going to take a vicious, savage beating. Joe Louis, an American hero, was going to get beaten up." Louis was dropped in the eighth round by a Marciano left, and knocked out of the ring less than thirty seconds later. Afterwards, Louis retired for good from boxing.

In 1952, Louis was invited to play in the San Diego Open on a sponsor's exemption, and became the first African American ever to play in this PGA Tour event.[4] A few years after his retirement, a movie about his life, The Joe Louis Story, was filmed in Hollywood. The role of Louis was played by fighter Coley Wallace.

By the end of the 1950s, Louis had owed over $1 million in taxes.[5] To bring in money, Louis appeared on quiz shows.[5] Old army buddy Ash Resnick gave him a job welcoming tourists to the Caesar's Palace hotel in Las Vegas, where Ash was an executive, just so Louis could make ends meet.[5] Louis developed a friendship with former rival Max Schmeling in their retirement, and Schmeling offered financial assistance to Louis during this period.[6] Louis performed as a professional wrestler in the 1950s and 60s, and as late as 1972.[7]

Louis remained a popular celebrity in his twilight years. He was good friends with heroin dealer Frank Lucas, who paid off a $50,000 tax lien for him and wept when he died, calling him "my daddy." [1]

Eventually, Louis's health began to deteriorate to the point where he had to be in a wheelchair. Louis suffered a stroke a year before his death and eventually his heart gave out."[citation needed]

Joe Louis died at age 66 of a heart attack in Desert Springs Hospital in 1981. Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for burial at Arlington National Cemetery,[citation needed] and Louis was buried there with full military honors on April 21, 1981.[8][9] It has been rumored that his funeral was paid for by a former competitor, Max Schmeling, though recent biographies claim this is false. His life and his achievements prompted famed New York sportswriter Jimmy Cannon to write "Joe Louis is a credit to his race - the human race."

Legacy

Joe Louis lives on in popular memory. Among other contributions, Louis coined two of boxing's most famous quotes: "He can run, but he can't hide" and "Everyone has a plan until they've been hit."[citation needed] In 1936, a beat writer for the Winnipeg Tribune used Joe Louis's nickname to refer to the Winnipeg Football Club after a game. From that point, the team became known popularly as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Commemoration

Louis was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given by the U.S. legislative branch, in 1982. Congress stated that he "did so much to bolster the spirit of the American people during one of the most crucial times in American history and which have endured throughout the years as a symbol of strength for the nation." He has a sports complex named after him in Detroit, the Joe Louis Arena, where the Detroit Red Wings play their NHL games. A memorial to Louis was dedicated in Detroit (at Jefferson Avenue & Woodward) on October 16, 1986. The sculpture, commissioned by Time, Inc. and executed by Robert Graham, is a 24-foot long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot high pyramidal framework. It represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of his efforts to fight Jim Crow laws, the fist was symbolically aimed toward the south. Joe Louis is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

A street near Madison Square Garden is named after Joe Louis. In 1993, he became the first boxer to be honored on a postage stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

American Legion Post 375 was named after "Joe Louis" and is located in Detroit, MI.

Career record

69 Wins (55 knockouts, 13 decisions, 1 disqualification), 3 Losses (2 knockouts, 1 decision) [2]
Res. Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Loss Flag of the United States Rocky Marciano KO 8 (10) 1951-10-26 Madison Square Garden, New York  
Win Flag of the United States Jimmy Bivins Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1951-08-15 Baltimore, Maryland  
Win Flag of Argentina Cesar Brion Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1951-08-01 San Francisco, California  
Win Flag of the United States Lee Savold KO 6 (15), 2:29 1951-06-15 Madison Square Garden, New York  
Win Flag of Cuba Omelio Agramonte Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1951-05-02 Detroit, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Andy Walker TKO 10 (10), 1:49 1951-02-23 San Francisco, California  
Win Flag of Cuba Omelio Agramonte Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1951-02-07 Miami, Florida  
Win Flag of the United States Freddie Beshore TKO 4 (10), 2:48 1951-01-03 Detroit, Michigan  
Win Flag of Argentina Cesar Brion Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1950-11-29 Chicago, Illinois  
Loss Flag of the United States Ezzard Charles Decision (unan.) 15 (15) 1950-09-27 Yankee Stadium, New York Fight was for World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Jersey Joe Walcott KO 11 (15) 1948-06-25 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title;
Louis retired and relinquished
the title on
March 1, 1949
Win Flag of the United States Jersey Joe Walcott Decision (split) 15 (15) 1947-12-05 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Tami Mauriello KO 1 (15), 2:09 1946-09-18 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Billy Conn KO 8 (15), 2:19 1946-06-19 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Johnny Davis TKO 1 (4), 0:53 1944-11-14 Buffalo, New York non-title fight
Win Flag of the United States Abe Simon TKO 6 (15) 1942-03-27 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Buddy Baer KO 1 (15), 2:56 1942-01-09 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Lou Nova TKO 6 (15), 2:59 1941-09-29 New York City Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Billy Conn KO 13 (15), 2:58 1941-06-18 New York City Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Buddy Baer Disqualification 7 (15) 1941-05-23 Washington, D.C. Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Tony Musto TKO 9 (15), 1:36 1941-04-08 Saint Louis, Missouri Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Abe Simon TKO 13 (20), 1:20 1941-03-21 Detroit, Michigan Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Gus Dorazio KO 2 (15), 1:30 1941-02-17 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Red Burman KO 5 (15), 2:49 1941-01-31 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Al McCoy TKO 6 (15) 1940-12-16 Boston, Massachusetts Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of Chile Arturo Godoy TKO 8 (15), 1:24 1940-06-20 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Johnny Paychek TKO 2 (15), 0:41 1940-03-29 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of Chile Arturo Godoy Decision (split) 15 (15) 1940-02-09 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Bob Pastor KO 11 (20) 1939-09-20 Detroit, Michigan Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Tony Galento TKO 4 (15), 2:29 1939-06-28 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Jack Roper KO 1 (10), 2:20 1939-04-17 Wrigley Field, Los Angeles Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States John Henry Lewis KO 1 (15), 2:29 1939-01-25 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of Nazi Germany Max Schmeling KO 1 (15), 2:04 1938-06-22 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Harry Thomas KO 5 (15), 2:50 1938-04-01 Chicago, Illinois Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States Nathan Mann KO 3 (15), 1:56 1937-02-23 Madison Square Garden, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United Kingdom Tommy Farr Decision (unan.) 15 (15) 1937-08-30 Yankee Stadium, New York Retained World Heavyweight title
Win Flag of the United States James J. Braddock KO 8 (15) 1937-06-22 Chicago, Illinois Won NBA and NYSAC World
Heavyweight titles
Win Flag of the United States Natie Brown KO 4 (10) 1937-02-17 Kansas City, Missouri  
Win Flag of the United States Bob Pastor Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1937-01-29 Madison Square Garden, New York City  
Win Flag of the United States Steve Ketchel KO 2 (4), 0:31 1937-01-11 Buffalo, New York  
Win Flag of the United States Eddie Simms TKO 1 (10), 0:26 1936-12-14 Cleveland, Ohio  
Win Flag of Argentina Jorge Brescia KO 3 (10), 2:12 1936-10-09 Hippodrome, New York City  
Win Flag of the United States Al Ettore KO 5 (15), 1:28 1936-09-22 Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia  
Win Flag of the United States Jack Sharkey KO 3 (10), 1:02 1936-08-18 Yankee Stadium, New York  
Loss Flag of Nazi Germany Max Schmeling KO 12 (15), 2:29 1936-06-19 Yankee Stadium, New York  
Win Flag of the United States Charley Retzlaff KO 1 (15), 1:25 1936-01-17 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of Spain Paulino Uzcudun TKO 4 (15), 2:32 1935-12-13 Madison Square Garden, New York City  
Win Flag of the United States Max Baer KO 4 (15) 1935-09-24 Yankee Stadium, New York  
Win Flag of the United States King Levinsky TKO 1 (10), 2:21 1935-08-07 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of Italy Primo Carnera TKO 6 (15), 2:32 1935-06-25 Yankee Stadium, New York  
Win Flag of the United States Gene Stanton KO 3 (6) 1935-05-07 Kalamazoo, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Willie Davies KO 2 (6) 1935-05-03 Peoria, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Roscoe Toles KO 6 (6) 1935-04-25 Flint, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Biff Bennett KO 1 (6), 2:26 1935-04-22 Dayton, Ohio Billed in an exhibition
Win Flag of the United States Roy Lazer KO 3 (10), 2:26 1935-04-12 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Natie Brown Decision (unan.) 10 (10) 1935-03-29 Detroit, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Don Barry TKO 3 (10) 1935-03-08 San Francisco, California  
Win Flag of the United States Lee Ramage TKO 2 (10), 2:11 1935-02-21 Los Angeles, California  
Win Flag of Nazi Germany Hans Birkie TKO 10 (10), 1:47 1935-01-11 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  
Win Flag of the United States Patsy Perroni Decision 10 (10) 1935-01-04 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Lee Ramage TKO 8 (10), 2:51 1934-12-14 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Charley Massera KO 3 (10) 1934-11-30 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Stanley Poreda KO 1 (10), 2:40 1934-11-14 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Jack O'Dowd KO 2 (10) 1934-10-31 Detroit, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Art Sykes KO 8 (10) 1934-10-24 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Adolph Wiater Decision 10 (10) 1934-09-26 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of Canada Al Delaney TKO 4 (10) 1934-09-11 Detroit, Michigan  
Win Flag of the United States Buck Everett KO 2 (8) 1934-08-27 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Jack Kranz Decision 8 (8) 1934-08-13 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Larry Udell TKO 2 (8) 1934-07-30 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of the United States Willie Davies KO 3 (6) 1934-07-12 Chicago, Illinois  
Win Flag of Norway Jack Kracken KO 1 (6) 1934-07-04 Chicago, Illinois  

Preceded by
James J. Braddock
Heavyweight boxing champion
1937�1949
Succeeded by
Ezzard Charles
Filled vacancy
Preceded by
Dizzy Dean
Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
1935
Succeeded by
Jesse Owens

 

Persondata
NAME Louis, Joe
ALTERNATIVE NAMES Barrow, Joseph Louis (full name)could he beat 50 cent
SHORT DESCRIPTION American boxer
DATE OF BIRTH May 14, 1914
PLACE OF BIRTH LaFayette, Alabama, United States
DATE OF DEATH April 12, 1981
PLACE OF DEATH  

 

Joe Louis, The Brown Bomber

�His Punches Could Paralyze You�

By MONTE D. COX

Cox's Corner Profiles

      Joe Louis was the most powerful and fastest punching heavyweight boxer in ring history. His great hand speed, especially in combination, was awesome to behold. He had a powerful jab, threw every punch perfectly and with wasteless accuracy. His right cross, thrown short and straight, was sheer dynamite. The "Brown Bomber" never ducked anyone as his record 25 title defenses attests to. Of those 25 successful defenses, 21 were won by knockout, 17 of those were ten counts! 5 in the first round! He also knocked out six men who held the Heavyweight Championship of the World. From 1934 to 1949, when he first retired as champion, his record was 60-1 with 51 knockouts. He held the Heavyweight Championship for a record of nearly 12 years.

      Louis had the perfect physique for a fighter with long, smooth muscles which gave him great speed and reflexes. Though overlaid with racism, one of the top sportswriters of the 30's, Grantland Rice, described Louis as a "brown cobra" and referred to his "blinding speed" as the "speed of the jungle" and the "instinctive speed of the wild" . Rice (In Mead, Sports Illustrated Sept. 16, 1985) also compared Louis to a "black panther stalking his prey" . His speed and power was explosive. Louis was a rare heavyweight who could throw a triple left hook with power as he did against Max Baer. In terms of hand speed, Louis, in his prime, ranks with the best in the division including Muhammad Ali.

     Alan Clevens wrote, (Louis 1914-1981 p 4) "For a day or two after Joe Louis died, the TV networks flooded the airwaves with clips of Joe's fights. A young friend of mine who thought Larry Holmes was the last word marvelled, "I never saw anybody with hands that fast. God his hands were even faster than...than.."

"Go ahead and say it" he told him.

"...Ali's."

      "Sure they were young man. Nobody in history had an offense like Louis. One punch was all Joe needed, but he never threw them one at a time. When Joe had an opponent hurt, veteran Louis watchers reached for their hats. He was the greatest "finisher" that ever lived! Joe shuffled forward, always the predator, behind a swift and powerful jab. And then the fireworks! Left hooks, the deadliest right hand ever seen, uppercuts...all thrown in deadly combinations."

      As a puncher Louis had everything. When Joe first appeared on the scene he was hailed as (See Durant p. 99), "A ring rarity. A boxer-puncher with the fastest pair of hands and the hardest punch ever seen." He is without doubt the greatest combination puncher to ever lace on the gloves. No one could put their punches together as beautifully as did Louis. He threw every punch in the book with text book perfection, the jab, the hook, the cross, and the uppercut. He placed his punches accurately to vital points; the heart, the liver, behind the ear, under the floating rib, and to the chin. His punches were short, often travelling only inches, yet they landed with jolting power. In this extremely important category of punching efficiency Louis has no peer.

      Louis was an extremley accurate puncher who wasted no motion and never threw a wild punch in his life. Detloff (2004) agrees saying , "All the blows in Joe Louis arsenal were so perfectly and precisely thrown every time that you get the sense watching him that he couldn't have been wild or sloppy if he tried."

      Ring historian Gilbert Odd wrote, (The Great Champions, p 40), "Louis jab would snap a man's head back with sickening monotony until he wavered under the steady punishment, then he was speedily finished off with swift and accurate hooks from both hands, or a finely timed right cross that carried such knockdown force that few who took it could survive. Louis was ice cold in action, rarely wasted a punch and had an uncanny way of anticipating and avoiding a blow by the merest move of the head."

      Nat Fleischer writing in the April 1939 Ring Magazine said, "He sails in, crashes his blows to the body and head, gives the opposition little chance to get set for a counter-attack and wards off blows with the cleverness of a Jack Johnson. Only Jack Johnson and Jack Dempsey compare to Joe Louis of today in all around ability...No human body can take the punishment that Jolting Joe dishes out once he goes after his prey. That has been proved conclusively in his last few contests."

      Fleischer wrote, Mar. 1942 Ring Magazine, after Louis' destruction of the 6'5" 250 pound Buddy Baer, that, "Not even in the second fight with Max Schmeling did the Detroit Destroyer show as much as he did against Buddy. Joe had everything. He was magnificent. He was a whirlwind on attack, a master of defense, a terror with his devastating punches."

      Jimmy Braddock commenting on Louis power said, (McCallum, 46), "Nobody hits like Louis. A punch is a punch. But that Louis. Take the first jab he nails you. You know what it's like? It's like someone jammed a electric bulb in your face and busted it." When asked about his right hand, he said, "It ain't like a punch. It's like someone nailed you with a crowbar. I thought half my head was blowed off. I figured he caved it in. After he hit me I couldnt even feel if it was there."

      Eddie Futch, who knew Joe Louis and trained with him at Brewster's gym, described Louis power (Anderson pp.231-232), "Joe's punches could paralyze you...Anywhere he hit you, you'd feel it. Even if he didn't hit you much, just blocking those shots was like being in an automobile accident."

      Emmanuel Steward after studying film of Louis-Schemling 2 concurred about Louis paralyzing power, making the following observation, (Pacheco, 45), "Louis body punches were unbelievable. After Max had been immobolized by a right to the kidney, he took a left hook to the solar plexus which paralyzed him. Even though Max was hurt and wanted to fall down, he couldn't even fall."

      The June 23, 1938 NY Times quoted Schmeling as saying he was hit with a kidney punch, a devastating right, which so shocked his nervous system, that he was "dazed" and his "vision was blurred." He was hit so hard to the body he lost his sight for a few seconds.

      Ray Arcel, one of the greatest trainers in history who trained champions such as Barney Ross, Tony Zale, Roberto Duran, and Larry Holmes, also worked against Louis in 14 of his fights said (Anderson p. 120), "Louis once drove Paulino Uzcudin's teeth right through his mouthpiece!" That's how hard Joe Louis could hit!

      Louis had a certain range he liked to work in. A slippery opponent with good footwork who stayed outside Louis punching radius could give him some problems. Louis style was made for a long fight. Given enough rounds he could eventually break down any opponent. Billy Conn boxed beautifully, the best fight of his career, but one only need to make one mistake against Louis and it was over. Louis eventually caught him and knocked him out in the thirteenth round. "They can run but they can't hide" Louis was fond of saying.

      Joe said he learned real early in his career to keep his mouth shut and his ears open. His willingness to learn and listen to the advice of his trainer Jack Blackburn (once a great lightweight with over 150 pro fights) allowed him to carry out Jack's fight plans to perfection. In his 2nd title defense against Nathan Mann, Joe was instructed between rounds to "set him up with the right uppercut and deliver the knockout drops with the left hook". Louis executed flawlessly producing an early knockout victory.

      In Louis day there were not a lot of films of fighters for study. Often one would step into the ring not knowing an opponents style. A properly prepared Louis showed how dangerous he could be as he was 10-0 in rematches of opponent's who had given him trouble the first time, he knocked out and destroyed fighters like Schmeling, Arturo Godoy, Buddy Baer, Abe Simon, Billy Conn and Jersey Joe Walcott in rematches. Louis could spot the fault in an opponent's style and capitalize, demonstrating his worth as a master boxer-puncher.

      The Bomber has been berated by some fans as having a "weak chin". This is simply not true. This argument can be made against virtually anyone. All fighters have been knocked down by lesser opponents. Jack Johnson was actually knocked out by Klondike Haynes and Joe Choynski. Dempsey was decked Luis Firpo and the relatively light-hitting Gene Tunney. Rocky Marciano was decked by an old Jersey Joe Walcott and light-heavyweight champion Archie Moore. Muhammad Ali was dumped by Sonny Banks, and Henry Cooper as well as Joe Frazier. Larry Holmes was decked by Kevin Isaacs, Earnie Shavers, and Renaldo Snipes who was not known for his power. Lennox Lewis was knocked out by Oliver McCall and Hasim Rahman, never getting off the deck to win a fight.

      Max Baer, whose fists were lethal, hit Joe with some of his hardest punches. Louis took them easily. Louis never hit the canvas until his first fight with Schmeling. In his only loss, (from 1934-1949 when he retired as champion), it took Max Schmeling 57 right hand power shots to finally bring Louis down. Schmeling, a first rate counter puncher, was able to exploit Louis mistake of dropping his left after jabbing and especially when launching a left hook. He then proved vulnerable to a straight right hand. (Joe afterward corrected that mistake). Louis proved he could take it. One punch could not knock out Joe Louis. He had to be beaten over the course of the fight. Nat Fleischer in the Aug. 1936 Ring Magazine commenting on Louis loss wrote, "Louis at least answered the critics who said he couldn't take a punch. He took it, and how! He absorbed enough punishment to have laid low the average pugilist a half dozen times. Staggered time and again, he kept on his feet and fought back..." That comment still stands. Louis could take it and fight back, usually with a vengeance!

      The ability to come back and win is the sign of a great fighter. Louis had exceptional recuperative ability. He was knocked through the ropes by Buddy Baer in their first bout. Many of the sportswriters at ringside were having visions of Dempsey-Firpo. Sportswriter Dick Cox described what happened next, "Louis, though dazed, recuperated with extraordinary swiftness, and had the situation well in hand, almost before the crowd had ceased shouting over Buddy's surprising feet." In his bout with "Two Ton" Tony Galento, Louis found himself on the receiving end of a Joe Frazier style left hook. Louis went down from the blast in the third round. He got up immediately. Louis was battering Galento mercilessly by rounds end. The end came with sudden devastation in the 4th. When the Bomber let loose the big guns nobody could survive the ferocity of his attack.

The defining fight of Joe Louis career was his rematch with Max Schemeling. With the world on the brink of all out war, Joe Louis faced the Nazi symbol of Aryan supremacy, who handed Louis the only loss of his prime career. Writer Bob Considine described Louis preparation, (Book of Boxing p. 64), "He was a big lean copper spring, tightened and retightened through weeks of training until he was one pregnant package of coiled venom."

Louis uncoiled his blazing fists upon Schmeling with a raging assault. With murder in his eyes, Joe floored Max three times and knocked him out in the first round. It was one of the most devastating knockouts in heavyweight history.

Hype Igoe, a boxing writer and historian, in the Feb. 1941 issue of Ring Magazine, stated "It has been my contention that had Louis always fought with a rush, as he did against Schmeling, none of his opponents would have gotten out of the first round." Louis was indeed a devastating puncher with either hand. William Detloff rated him the # 1 puncher of all time in his article The 100 Greatest Punchers of All Time Ring Almanac 2004.

Perhaps Joe Louis can be best summed up in his own words, "I don't like to hurt nobody, but its my job, and I do it as best as I can!"

      Louis skills greatly faded after his 4 year lay-off due to World War 2. He retired as champion in 1949. Because of a tax debt Joe was forced to make a comeback to pay off the IRS. Louis was no longer the same fighter. His blazing hand speed was a thing of the past. He still had some success due to the fact that he was a boxer who made few mistakes in the ring. But as Nat Fleischer wrote, (Ring Dec 1955), by the time of his last fight against Rocky Marciano he had "long since lost his once paralyzing punch."

      Louis wasn't able to pay off his debt, though it was eventually forgiven him by the U.S. Government. Joe Louis suffered from health problems later in life. He died on April 12, 1981. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetary at the request of President Ronald Reagan.

      Most boxing historians rate Joe Louis number one or number two on their list of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Eddie Futch, who devised the strategy that defeated Ali for both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, considers Joe Louis to be the greatest of the all time heavies. The late editor of the Ring, Nat Loubet, rated Joe Louis number one on his list of heavyweight greats. Boxing historians such as Dan Daniel, Lew Eskin, Ted Carroll, and Bill Gallo all consider Joe Louis to be the greatest heavyweight champion. John Durant, author of "The Heavyweight Champions" rated him as the # 1 heavyweight of all time. Bert Sugar rates Joe Louis # 2 at heavyweight. The Aug. 1980 issue of the Ring rated Louis as the second greatest fighter in history behind only Sugar Ray Robinson. The Holiday 1998 issue of the Ring rated Louis second behind Muhammad Ali at heavyweight. Former heavyweight champ and boxing historian Mike Tyson, in the HBO video, "Tyson and the Heavyweights" (1988), said of Louis, "It's difficult to see anyone beating him even Muhammad Ali". Cox's Corner rates Joe Louis # 1 among All Time Heavyweights.

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