When I was a Young lad, I had a Boxing book one year for Christmas, 100 years of Boxing by the great Burt Randolph Sugar. The Book glossed over the 80s boxers and all the preceding years before that decade, it was at a young age I was introduced to such names as Rocky Graziano, Willie Pep, Jack Johnson etc
Back in those days, UK Boxing on TV was concentrated on little more than Saturday afternoon highlights so this book became my go-to Boxing Bible, over and over I would read the boxer profiles, and their greatest victories and ogle over the pictures of these fighters in action.
One Picture within that book that always stuck with me was the image of the Great Brown Bomber Joe Louis lying face down being counted out by the referee.
The first non-title fight between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling took place on June 19, 1936, at the famous Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York.
Louis was coming off a 23-0 record and heading toward a showdown with James Braddock the heavyweight Champion, Schmeling at 30 yrs of age was considered nothing more than fodder for the Brown Bomber.
Schmeling had done his homework on Louis who had preferred golf to actual training for the fight, Schmeling noticed a slight flaw, every time Louis threw his left jab he would drop his arm leaving his chin exposed to a right-hand counter and executed his homework to deadly effect by knocking Louis out in the 12th round.
Schmeling returned home to Germany a hero the victory had catapulted him to the number one contender for James J Braddock’s title however during the 2 years after beating Louis the Nazi War machine had kicked in goose stepping its way across Europe, Schmeling was overlooked resulting in the title fight and Championship belt being subsequently won by Louis.
Eager to avenge his defeat to Schmeling 2 years previous, Louis embedded himself into a strict training regime, as Champion a whole new level of responsibility was heaped upon his shoulders, fighting for not only Black people but also found himself embraced by the whole USA nation including its president who labelled and paraded him around as the Man to fight for worldwide freedom, a massive load to bare for such a young man.
Schmeling was also being used as part of the Nazi Propaganda however at every opportunity would try declaring his non-allegiance to the Nazi Party Stating, “I’m a fighter not a politician”, unfortunately for both men, this was not just a fight for the heavyweight title, it was bragging rights for the opposing soon to be Waring countries.
The Fight was set Once again at Yankee Stadium on June 22, 1938, the 2 Fighters entered the ring with the partisan crowd behind their man Joe Louis.
At the sound of the bell a usually cagey slow starting Brown Bomber set about ending the fight early taking a surprised Schmeling head, confused by the quick start Schmeling was unable to re-evaluate his game plan, trapped on the ropes Louis unleashed 5 hooks to the side of Schmeling’s head followed by a crunching body shot which had the fighter clinging to the ropes screaming in pain, the referee stepped in unsure whether to stop the fight or administer a standing count deciding to allow the fight to play out its inevitable course, Louis buoyed by his quick start and eagerness to end the fight early smashed in a right hand sending Schmeling to the canvas, up at the count 4 Louis then blasted in a further barrage of punches forcing Schmeling back to the canvas.
Once again, the courageous German got to his feet only to be met by a stunning Bomber combination a Left to the body and a short right to the head followed by the trademark thunderous left hook, Schmeling was down again, and the corner towel was pointlessly thrown in, Schmeling was out before the count concluded, Joe Louis had scored a personal 1st round victory and a victory for the Allies.
Sat here now the year is 2022 I am able to write about such feats that happened way before my time courtesy of the world wide web, incredibly I am able to take those images from my boxing book and watch the boxers from a bygone era right there on my screen,
The fight is everything I imagined it would be.