International Boxing Hall of Fame
"Black Uhlan of the Rhine"
CLICK HERE Max Schmeling's complete record from boxrec.com
“The time of the Nazis was unimaginably horrible. Everything must be done to ensure that nothing sympathetic about that regime is ever said. Because there was nothing good about it.”
-- Max Schmeling
|Real name||Maximillian Adolph Otto
|Nickname(s)||Black Uhlan of the Rhine|
|Birth date||September 28, 1905(1905-09-28)|
|Birth place||Klein Luckow, German Empire|
|Death date||February 2, 2005 (aged 99)|
|Death place||Wenzendorf, Germany|
|Wins by KO||40|
Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling (September 28, 1905 – February 2, 2005) was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in the late 1930s transcended boxing and became worldwide social events because of their national associations.
Despite his supposed associations with Nazism, it became known long after the Second World War that Schmeling had risked his own life to save the lives of two Jewish children in 1938. While Schmeling was never a supporter of the Nazi regime in Germany, he cooperated with the government's efforts to play down the increasingly negative international world view of its domestic policies during the 1930s.
Schmeling was born in Klein Luckow in the Province of Pomerania. He debuted as a professional boxer in 1924, and he built a record of 42 wins, 4 losses and 3 draws, before fighting Jack Sharkey for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship in 1930. In between his debut and the championship fight, he fought a two-round exhibition with World Heavyweight Champ Jack Dempsey (whom he strongly resembled), in 1925, at Cologne.
In round 4, Sharkey hit Schmeling with a low blow so severe that Schmeling could not continue. Thus, Schmeling won the world title on a disqualification. He became the first Heavyweight World Champion to win the title on a disqualification, and to this day remains the only one to have won it that way.
In 1931, he made a defense, knocking out Young Stribling in 15 rounds at Cleveland, and in 1932 he and Sharkey met for a rematch. After 15 rounds, Sharkey was declared the winner on points (a very controversial split decision), and Schmeling lost his title. This decision led his manager Joe Jacobs to shout in protest a line that since has become famous: "We was robbed!" Despite efforts to make a third fight happen, the rubber match between Schmeling and Sharkey never took place.
Two months after he lost the title Max Schmeling knocked out Mickey Walker, showing that he was still the world's best heavyweight. That changed in June 1933 when he lost by T.K.O. against later champion Max Baer.
In 1936, the situation in Germany had changed. Schmeling traveled to New York to face up-and-coming African-American boxer Joe Louis, who was undefeated and considered unbeatable. Upon his arrival, Schmeling claimed that he had found a flaw in Louis' style, observing the way in which he dropped his guard after throwing a punch. He surprised the boxing world by handing Louis his first defeat, dropping him in round four and knocking him out in the 12th. Schmeling returned to Germany on the Hindenburg as a hero.
The German Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels proclaimed Schmeling's victory a triumph for Germany and Nazism. The Nazi weekly journal Das Schwarze Korps (The Black Corps) commented: "Schmeling's victory was not only sport. It was a question of prestige for our race."
Louis and his supporters were devastated by the defeat. Schmeling himself was also affected; when Louis finally won the world Heavyweight crown in 1937, he said he would not consider himself a champion until he beat Schmeling in a rematch.
The rematch came, at Yankee Stadium, on June 22, 1938, with Louis defending his crown. By then, a second world war was clearly looming on the horizon, and the fight was viewed worldwide as symbolic battle for superiority between two likely adversaries. In American pre-fight publicity, Schmeling was cast as the Nazi warrior, while Louis was portrayed as a defender of American ideals.
The fight was broadcast by radio all over the United States (on NBC with Clem McCarthy) and Europe. In 2005 it was selected for permanent preservation in the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress. German sports writer with the Associated Press, Roy Kammerer , based in Berlin wrote in 2005: "The fight was a huge event worldwide and left a lasting impression on his era of Germans, who followed blow-by-blow on radio." Kammerers account is supported by a 1988 letter to the Sport Editor of the New York Times.
Louis retained the title by a technical knockout later in the first.
Schmeling was branded as a "Nazi" by many boxing fans, but this is untrue. In reality, Schmeling became quite unpopular among Germans after the embarrassing loss to the black man, and was not used anymore in Nazi propaganda, which was a relief to him. In 1928, he hired Joe Jacobs, a Jew, to be his manager. He would point to this fact for the rest of his life in defending himself against charges of Nazi sympathy.
In 1938, during the Kristallnacht, Schmeling hid two teenage sons of a Jewish friend in his Berlin hotel room, protecting them from the SS and Gestapo at great risk to himself. The two boys, Henry and Werner Lewin, were eventually smuggled out of Germany with Schmeling's help.
One year after that defeat against Louis, Max Schmeling came back winning the European Heavyweight Title.
When World War II broke out in 1939, Schmeling was drafted into the German Luftwaffe and served as an elite Fallschirmjäger. Following its end he was interned briefly, still recovering from injuries sustained in the war. Afterwards, he frequently visited American troops, giving away signed photos and taking pictures with the American soldiers.
The early postwar years were financially difficult for Schmeling. A former New York boxing commissioner who had become a Coca-Cola executive offered him the postwar soft drink franchise in Germany, and he became a successful businessman and one of Germany's most respected philanthropists. At his death, he was still one of the owners of Coca-Cola's German branch.
After 1948, Schmeling had retired from boxing. He and Louis became friends following a 1954 meeting on the U.S. television program This Is Your Life. Schmeling and Louis met 12 times afterward as friends, and he helped to pay the impoverished Louis' medical bills. He was one of the pallbearers at Louis's funeral in 1981. Until shortly before his death, he made several trips a year around the world to attend activities related to his boxing career. He has been the object of several books, including a biography, and in 2001, STARZ! produced a movie about him and Louis named Joe and Max.
He is a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, and he compiled a record of 56 wins, 10 losses and 4 draws with 40 wins by knockout. Among his other wins, he had a knockout in eight rounds over former world Welterweight champion, Middleweight champion and fellow Hall Of Famer Mickey Walker.
After celebrating his 99th birthday in 2004, Schmeling vowed to live on to celebrate his 100th birthday. However, that Christmas, he came down with a bad cold, and his health never recovered. He later slipped into a coma on January 31, 2005 and died two days later at 3:55 pm in Hamburg. He was buried next to his wife, the Austro-Hungarian-born Czech film actress Anny Ondra (Anna Sophie Ondráková), to whom he was married for 54 years. They had no children.
In the book "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay," Joe Kavalier is beaten up by someone who may or may not have been Max Schmeling. The author hints that it probably wasn't, as Max should have been fighting in Poland at the time.
The Basketball Arena in Berlin that the basketball team Alba Berlin uses (Max-Schmeling Hall) is named in honor of this legendary fighter.
Heavyweight boxing champion