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Joe Louis Beats Freddie Beshore

Joe Louis Beats Freddie Beshore


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Live coverage of boxing champ Joe Louis is captured in a broadcast from Olympia Stadium in Detroit on January 3, 1951. Mounting a comeback, Louis beats Freddie Beshore in the fourth round.


4. Muhammad Ali

Ali is without question remembered as one of the greatest single athletes that has ever walked the grounds of Earth -- and most of the admiration is justified. Everybody knows the political and civil stances he took, and his achievements inside the ring are common knowledge among even the most casual boxing fan. He won the heavyweight title three times, fought everybody during his time and toppled every big-named fighter at his best. However, there is one glaring fact about Ali to which veteran boxing writers will almost never admit because it is considered blasphemous to criticize one of the sport’s deities, but the truth is, he was unbelievably boring in most of his fights. If you want proof, skip “The Rumble in the Jungle” or the “Thrilla in Manila” and watch the rest of his battles -- any of them. After having watched literally every single one of his fights, to say it was a chore to stay awake is an understatement. His bouts with Jimmy Young, Joe Bugner, Chuck Wepner, George Chuvalo, Mac Foster, Rudi Lubbers and countless others were utterly forgettable. Yes, Ali’s accomplishments make him arguably the greatest heavyweight in history. However, whenever an older “boxing guy” talks about Ali, he typically makes it sound as if he was a composite of Arturo Gatti, Erik Morales, Rafael Marquez and a prime Mike Tyson, except even more exciting. That could not be further from the truth. Ali was undeniably great, but with the passage of time, he has become much more myth than man.


The secrets behind the legend of Rocky Marciano

AT first glance there’s nothing immediately conspicuous about the date April 27, 1956. President Dwight Eisenhower sat in the White House. A four hundred foot rampaging reptile monster called Godzilla was unleashed and played to packed movie theatres. Elvis Presley topped the music charts with Heartbreak Hotel, his first million selling record as the Rock and Roll dance craze swept the nation. Sex symbol Brigitte Bardot took centre stage at the Cannes film festival as the paparazzi shot pictures of her frolicking on a beach with a parrot. Meanwhile, at a press conference held at the Hotel Shelton in New York City Rocky Marciano, world heavyweight boxing champion announced that at 32, he was hanging up his gloves to spend more time with his family.

Sixty-one years on is Marciano an enduring legend or a faded hero who belongs to a misty-eyed bygone age? His retirement brought the curtain down on the last great heavyweight from the Golden Age of Boxing. With his fighting reputation intact Marciano’s 49 victories in 49 contests and 43 knockouts is still the yardstick by which future heavyweight champions are judged. We look back at how Marciano became the undisputed heavyweight king.

Rocco Francesco Marchegiano was born in Brockton, Massachusetts on September 1, 1923, the eldest of six children. For Marciano, the son of a shoe factory worker, life was a continuous fight. Afflicted by pneumonia as a child he was given little chance of survival. He waged a tireless battle against excruciating back pains. He quit school at sixteen to work in a succession of dead-end jobs firstly as a truckloader followed by stints in a sweet factory and shoe-shining parlour and then as a gas company pick-and-shovel labourer. Life looked bleak. In 1943 he was drafted into the United States Army, and on his return his dream of becoming a baseball player vanished following an unsuccessful trial with the Chicago Cubs.

Boxing threw him a lifeline. A twelve-fight amateur career culminated in him winning the New England title. In March 1947 Marciano scored a third-round knockout on his professional debut. His early appearances in the provincial obscurity of Rhode Island got him noticed. Marciano signed forms with New York fight manager Al Weill who astutely placed him under the stewardship of top trainer Charley Goldman. Marciano made his debut in New York in his 23 rd fight. He signalled his arrival in 1950 when he outpointed unbeaten contender Roland La Starza. In the following year he knocked out prospect Rex Layne, contender Freddie Beshore and then disposed of his childhood hero Joe Louis in eight rounds. In 1952 he first dispatched Lee Savold and then Harry “Kid” Matthews, in a world title eliminator. On September 23, 1952 Marciano challenged Jersey Joe Walcott for the heavyweight title in Philadelphia. Marciano overcame a first-round knockdown and in the 13th round produced the most spectacular one punch knockout in boxing history later described by Bernard Fernandez as being delivered “with the force of a meteor slamming into earth” [pictured below]. Eight months later Walcott was blasted out in one round.

Marciano fought regularly averaging six appearances per year, and between 1952-55 he contested seven world title fights stopping La Starza, Walcott and Ezzard Charles in rematches. He brought to his fights a ferocious intensity and non-stop action and the gift of a knockout punch placing him at the very top of the league of heavyweight hitters. Marciano knocked out 88 percent of opponents compared to 76 percent by Joe Louis. Boxing historian Bert Sugar described Marciano’s right hand punch as “the most devastating weapon ever brought into the ring.” Marciano knew he possessed the tools to get the job done privately admitting to his closed circle “Why waltz with a guy for ten rounds if you can knock him out in one.” His devastating power was felt by Carmine Vingo, who ended up in a coma, Walcott remained unconscious for two minutes after their first battle and Savold was hospitalised after suffering the worst beating of his seventeen year career. He destroyed his opponent’s desire to stay in the profession and accounted for thirteen permanent retirements. Budd Schulberg, award-winning screenwriter and boxing aficionado, likened Marciano’s capability of grinding down an opponent to a “hydraulic drill attacking a boulder.” Arthur Daley exalted him as a “perpetual motion punching machine”. He was a diligent and dedicated trainer. Marciano’s boundless reserves of stamina explained his overpoweringly aggressive style and his remarkable recuperative powers meant he was seldom troubled. Younger brother Peter Marciano revealed, “Rocky lived like a monk. He was always in incredible condition. He was devoted to training and he could always throw more punches than he ever faced. He’s never been given full credit for his condition.”

Yet boxing scribes harped on about Marciano’s flaws as a boxer describing him as crude, wild swinging and awkward and unfair comparisons were drawn with Louis. When Charley Goldman was assigned to work with Marciano he just laughed at the challenge facing him. But after a number of years of working with his eager student he remarked, “I got a guy who is short, stoop-shouldered and balding with two left feet, (Rocky’s victims) all look better than he does as far as moves are concerned, but they don’t look so good (laying) on the canvas.”

Some have questioned Marciano’s achievements arguing his main challengers were past their prime and the heavyweight division was in a slump. But the quality and quantity of contenders during this era is arguably superior to anything seen in the past 35 years. They were hungry and tough resourceful fighters who learnt their craft by fighting regularly. Joe Louis was 37, diminished yes, but still quite formidable and entered the contest on the back of eight straight wins. Yet nobody had battered Louis into submission the way Marciano did. Ezzard Charles was pure class and a threat. Walcott and Archie Moore were skilful big punching champions who could look after themselves. The late Curtis “The Hatchet” Sheppard, one of the sport’s biggest punchers, fought Walcott and Moore twice apiece. He remarked: “I was surprised when Marciano beat him (Walcott) like that. That gives you an idea of how tough Marciano was and how hard he hit. Marciano’s secret was his ability to avoid women and night life. He could keep coming and with that chin and power, he couldn’t be denied.” A day after his knockout loss to Marciano, Archie Moore told the New York Times, “Marciano is far and away the strongest man I’ve ever encountered in almost 20 years of fighting. And believe me I’ve met some tough ones.”

His critics ask how would Marciano have handled modern era super-sized heavyweights? After all he possessed the shortest reach in heavyweight boxing history at just 68 inches and stood only 5 foot 10 ½ inches in height and never weighed more than 192 ½ pounds. Peter Marciano refutes this argument. “Rocky fought a number of guys who were 30-40 pounds heavier than he was, and those were his easiest fights. It was guys who were a little smaller, a little quicker, who threw punches in combinations that gave Rocky a more difficult time. Forget size, Rocky was tremendously strong. His strength was, and I hate to say the word, but it was almost superhuman. Big guys were made for him. The bigger they were, the easier it was for Rocky to tire them out and then to knock them out.”

Mike Silver, eminent boxing historian concurred: “The key to Marciano’s success is that he never gave up. Rocky never threw in the towel. He had the physical and mental attributes of a great fighter: Tremendous heart tremendous durability knockout power and the belief that he could not be defeated. [Charley] Goldman taught him the tricks of the trade. He was not as easy to hit as he appeared. His style was deceptive. He did not throw one punch at a time. His volume of punches per round is among the highest of any heavyweight champion. They were thrown in a continuous pattern. No heavyweight could keep up with this incessant pressure and was either knocked down or worn out by his almost superhuman physical specimen. A fighter who has the one punch knockout power to end a fight at any time is very very dangerous. [Muhammad] Ali and [Gene] Tunney could outpoint you but they did not have that quality. Don’t let anyone tell you different – Rocky faced and defeated some very formidable heavyweights. Walcott and Charles were not washed up when they fought him. They both fought the first fight brilliantly. These and the fight with [Archie] Moore showed why Rocky was great by defeating much better boxers.”

Dan Cuoco of the International Boxing Research Organisation explained, “What Rocky Marciano gave up in height and reach he more than made up with one punch knockout power, extraordinary strength and stamina, an insatiable will to win, mental toughness and plenty of guts… Although he missed a lot his savage body attack would wear his opponents down. What he lacked in speed, he more than made up for by the volume of punches he threw. When he was caught with a good punch, his world class chin held up admirably.”

Steve Corbo, boxing announcer added: “Watching old films it seems he (Marciano) didn’t care how rough things got. He just seemed to know he was going to win. Knock down, cut-off his nose, split open his eye. It didn’t matter because he’d get up and keep coming like a freight train until he rolled over his opponent.”

Marciano was voted three times the Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year (1952, 1954, and 1955) and from 1952 the same journal awarded his involvement in the Fight of the Year for three consecutive years. Most boxing experts place Marciano in their top ten some even higher. In the Ring Magazine 2000 poll, Marciano was voted as the ninth greatest fighter of the twentieth century among all weight classes. Bert Sugar rated Marciano as the sixth best ever heavyweight and the fourteenth best fighter of all time.

Whether you are an admirer or a detractor, perennially extensive coverage of his much fabled unbeaten 49-0 record has preserved Marciano’s legacy from beyond the grave. Since his death in a plane crash in Iowa on August 31, 1969, he has made a great impression on the public mind Marciano’s brutal slugfests are replayed to a savvy social media generation. Sports stadia and commemorative statues across the United States and in Italy are named after him. Annual boxing shows and sporting festivals are held in tribute to Marciano. Let’s not forget his toughness, persistence and never-say-die combative spirit and triumph over adversity inspired Sylvester Stallone to pay homage to him in the iconic Rocky films. His legend continues.

Rolando Vitale is the author of The Real Rockys: A History of the Golden Age of Italian Americans in Boxing 1900-1955


Joe Louis – The Brown Bomber

Louis started his professional career following his defeat by Max Marek in the finals of the national amateurs’ championships. Henceforth he was to make a steady rise until he gained the top rung of the ladder.

Prior to the knockout, he had suffered at the hands of Max Schmeling, he had won twenty-seven consecutive bouts, all except four by knockouts.

Among his victims were many of better class heavyweights, including Stanley Poreda, Charley Massera, Patsy Perroni, Natie Brown, Roy Lazer, Roscoe Toles and Hans Birkie.

Then those who had launched his professional career – John Roxborough and Julian Black-aided by Mike Jacobs, who promoted all of his major fights after March 28, 1935, when Joe had won the decision over Brown in Detroit, figured that the Bomber was ready for the top men of his division.

In successive bouts, Joe knocked out Primo Carnera, in six rounds King Levinsky in one Max Baer in four Paulino Uzcudun in four and Charley Retzlaff in one. This became the only setback he suffered during his pre-championship and championship day, the knockout by Schmeling.

So thorough and masterly a job did the Uhlan perform, that the thousands who had come in expectation of seeing the Brown Bomber put another opponent to sleep because of his supposed invincibility sat dumbfounded watching the so-called Executioner executed. Not since the day when the great John L.Sullivan was dethroned by James J Corbett had such a jolt been meted out to the fight public.

The “Superman of Boxing” was a pathetic figure as he sat in his corner, first aid administered to him by his trainer Jack Blackburn and his managers after the fatal ten had been counted over him. Face puffed, the mouse under his eye, thumbs sprained, he looked nothing like the man who had been mowing down opponent after opponent.

When the fight was over, Joe’s mind was set on only one thing-revenge.

He quickly decided on plans to prepare himself for a return bout and Mike Jacobs arranged for his comeback with the aim of building him up for a title bout.

Jack Sharkey was his first victim, he went out in three rounds. The murderous fists of the Brown Bomber worked beautifully that night, next came Al Ettore of Philadelphia. He lasted through part of the fifth session, Jorge Brescia went out in three, Eddie Simms in one, and Steve Ketchell in two, the start was most satisfactory.

Joe’s handlers and Jacobs were delighted with his comeback.

Under Mike then matched Joe with Bob Pastor of New York who temporarily halted the steady stream of kayos’ by lasting ten round of what the scribes termed a running match. Bob backpedalled throughout the ten frames.

Another knockout of Natie Brown followed, and in the next session, Louis defeated Braddock to win the world crown. The goal of his ambition had been reached but what the most, next to that, was to avenge his knockout by Schmeling.

He sought a quick return bout and this he received after he had outpointed Tommy Farr of Wales in an international championship bout.

Tommy gave an excellent performance against the Bomber, and those among his countrymen who saw the affair both at the ringside and in the movies were strong of the opinion that Farr had won. But the majority of the scribes and judges thought otherwise and correctly so, for Louis, despite the aggressiveness of Tommy, tossed leather at a steady gait in the majority of the rounds, His effectiveness was far superior to that of the Welshman.

It was stirring bout and an excellent final tune-up for Joe Louis.

His triumph over Max Schmeling followed. He scored the second quickest knockout in the history of the heavyweight championship bouts, 2.04 of the opening round, and in accomplishing this wonderful feat he handed Schmeling a terrible beating. Joe collected $349, 288, 40, an average of $2,832 per second, the record up to that time in any championship fight.

The fists of the Bomber crushed his former conqueror in a manner that left no doubt about his superiority.

Though Schmeling complained about being struck foul kidney punches, every blow was a fair one.

Any that struck Max in the kidneys was because by the twisting of Schmeling’s body as he held on to the upper stand and tried desperately to avoid the vicious attack of his opponent. The first two punches, powerful left hook, started Schmeling on his downfall. Once Louis got the range, he kept up a steady bombardment until Max had been halted.

The first knockdown followed a right to the chin. The German fell on his shoulder and rolled over twice before coming to a rest with his feet in the air. Louis did most of his attack with his right. Nine such blows landed with accuracy in the first minute.

The second time, after a count of two, he got to his feet, a powerful right crashed against his jaw and Max went down on all fours. He tried to straighten himself to rise, but while in the process, his chief second, Max Machon tossed in the towel.

Since this is not permitted under New York rules, Arthur Donovan, the referee, hurled it back, took a good look at Schmeling, and as timekeeper Eddie Joseph had reached eight, Donovan halted the bout.

The King had proved his right to the throne.

With that great victory, a series of contests were arranged for Louis before his enlistment in the Army, in which he tackled all comers in what became known as the “Bum of the Month” battles.

Louis disposed of John Henry Lewis, Jack Roper, Tony Galento, and Bob Pastor in 1939, all by knockouts. Galento floored him but suffered a severe shellacking.

Louis started the next year with a discouraging affair with Arturo Gody of Chile, who lasted fifteen rounds as a result of unorthodox tactics, but later Joe got even with him by stopping him in a return engagement after first halting Johnny Paycheck. A kayo over Al McCoy ended that year’s campaign.

His biggest successes were registered in 1941 when Red Burman, Gus Dorazio, Abe Simon, Tony Musto, Buddy Bear, Billy Conn and Lou Nova were taken into camp. The Simon bout in Detroit, as well as that with Pastor two years previous, was scheduled for twenty rounds but neither went the distance.

Simon was knocked out in the thirteenth round and Pastor in the eleventh.

The bout with Baer resulted in Buddy’s disqualification when he refused to come out for the seventh round, claiming a foul. He had put Joe through the ropes in the opening round of that mill. Buddy asserted that Joe had struck him after the bell had sounded ending the sixth round.

Joe’s victory over Baer marked the champion’s sixth outing in as many months. It had been a busy and wearying campaign of continuous training and fighting, but Louis wasn’t prepared as yet to call it quits. He wanted to keep going.

Billy Conn, a brilliant light heavyweight champion, had been clamouring for a crack at Louis. Billy, a flashy boxer, had been enjoying consistent success against the bigger fellows, and a thirteen round kayo of Bob Pastor had convinced him of his ability to cope with Louis.

Louis wanted a June fight, and since Conn shaped up as the only possible opponent in sight, the match was arranged for the Polo Grounds.

The battle was to prove one of the most tumultuous of Louis’ career, for Conn, outweighed more than twenty-five pounds and at further disadvantages in height and reach, came within the proverbial eyelash of dethroning Louis.

In this contest, the bludgeon was too much for the rapier. For the greater part of thirteen rounds, the beautiful jabbing, clever manoeuvring of Conn gave him the advantage.

Then, Billy, cocky, confident he was Louis master, gambled a fortune on a knockout. He elected to trade punches with his heavy hitting rival and with only two seconds more to go before the bell would end the thirteenth frame, he was counted out by referee Eddie Joseph.

A finishing right from the Bomber’s TNT fist rang down the curtains on the dazzling shows. The game Pitts burgher was within grasp of the crown yet tossed it away by attempting to outslug Joe at a time when the champion was bewildered title holder and not to steady.

From then eleventh through to the finish, Conn had suddenly turned aggressor and handed the champion a sound thrashing, much to the amazement of 54,484 fans who rocked the stands with their enthusiasm.

Overconfidence caused Billy’s downfall. They were slugging it out, Billy with a grin on his face and Joe with a look of bewilderment, when Louis landed a powerful left hook to the jaw.

He followed that with even a harder right and Conn was in a state of collapse. He had little left after that but courage as Louis battered his body with left and rights until the finishing right-hand wallop came with only second more to go.

Billy Conn came nearest to defeating Louis. When he was halted by Joe, he was ahead of the cards of two of the officials. Judge Marty Monroe had the tally seven to four for Conn with one round even, Referee Eddie Joseph, seven to five for Billy. Judge Healy tabbed it six to six.

After enlisting in the U.S Army, Louis went overseas on many exhibition tours. Before doing so he fought the return contest with Buddy Baer for the Naval Relief Fund and stopped Buddy in one round. He then tackled Simon in an Army Relief Fund bout and halted him in six.

When Louis and Conn were discharged from the Army, Mike Jacobs decided to match them in a repeat fight, figuring the public was ready, now that World War Two had ended, for a big-time promotion in boxing. He was correct.

With a ringside top of $100 for the first three rows, that bout staged on June 18, 1946, at the Yankees Stadium, drew a paid attendance of $1,925,564, but the affair wasn’t worth more than a $10 tops show.

From the standpoint of the fans, it was a flop, with little in it to arouse enthusiasm. It was one of the dullest in Joe’s career, owing entirely to the tactics of Conn, who, fighting an entirely different battle from his first encounter with the Bomber, elected to back a step, he took no chances.

Of the twenty-three minutes involved, more than three-quarters were packed with dullness and inaction. Conn offered the patrons nothing but flying feet and was knocked out in 2.19 of the eighth round. Louis couldn’t catch up with Conn to make the bout interesting and Billy wouldn’t mix it. It was inconceivable that these were the same two who had thrilled a vast gathering only five years before!

Up to seven rounds little had been accomplished by either, here and there a weak-hearted jab was tossed. Conn threw nothing that even looked like a punch. Louis tried, but his delivery was ineffective because of the roaming tactics employed by his opponent.

When Conn landed on the canvas he assumed exactly the same posture as did Jack Johnson in Havana-he shaded his eyes from the hot lights, as Johnson did from the sun, while being counted out.

The one-round knockout of Tami Mauriello followed a bout in which Tami came close to dropping the champion in the first half minute. But Louis, after being hurled almost across the ring with the blow, rushed into his opponent with a vicious attack and it soon was all over.

Then a series of exhibitions followed before the Bomber accepted another title defence. This time against he faced the aging Jersey Joe Walcott of Camden, New Jersey.

That historic battle in the Madison Square Garden Arena on December 5, 1947, almost saw the termination of Louis long successes.

Louis retained his crown because he received a split decision verdict, unpopular with the fans and scribes Walcott lost his chance to take the crown through his back-pedalling.

Never in the history of the division has a boxer won a championship running away without attempting dethronement than he ever had been through in his ten years reign as world champion.

He was knocked down twice. The first occurred in the opening round for a count of two and the next in the fourth for a count of seven. The Brown Bomber was battered hard and bleeding. At times he looked foolish as he tried to catch up with his elusive target. His reflexes were bad and his defence was poor, all that was revealed plainly to 18,194 persons who paid $216,477 to see the battle, which was considered so one-sided when it was arranged the odds were 1 to 10.

Left jabs and several hooks baffled Louis in the opening round and a solid, short right to the jaw dropped him. The fourth was not a minute old when Walcott crashed his right to the jaw again toppling Louis in his tracks.

Not until the ninth round did Louis catch up with his foe. Like a maniac, he went after Jersey Joe. Though the blows carried jarring force, Jersey Joe withstood them. From then on Walcott missed many roundhouse rights and kept racing madly away from Louis, only occasionally halting momentarily to toss effective jabs to the head. It was the sprinting tactics of Jersey Joe which cost him the fight.

Referee Ruby Goldstein saw the challenger the victor, crediting Walcott with seven rounds to six with two even. Marty Monroe, one of the judges, gave the decision to Louis, none to six, and Judge Frank Forbes called Louis the winner, eight to six and one even.

In a return bout six months later, June 25, 1948, at the Yankees Stadium, 42,657 persons saw Louis decisively whip his tormentor by knocking Walcott out in the eleventh round. It was Joe’s twenty-fifth and last title defence. Louis came back a long way to overcome crafty antagonist who had baffled him for ten rounds, then crumbled to the canvas when the Bomber caught up with him.

Two minutes of the eleventh round had slipped away in a contest that had been quite tame and had drawn the boos of the crowd. Louis kept pressing, Walcott kept slipping aside, but the champion was in no mood to go through a repetition of their first encounter. Walcott was leading during the first two minutes of the round when his antagonist suddenly attacked with fury.

Lefts and rights landed on Walcott’s head, but he made the error of coming off the ropers to swap blows with the Bomber. Jersey Joe thought he had the fight cinched and there’s where he erred.

Louis nailed him with a right after three beautiful straight lefts to head and face had numbed Walcott’s brain. His legs were now rubbery. A right to the body and he dropped his guard. As he began to sag, a fast and furious barrage followed.

Louis went after the kill, backed his man against the ropes, pounded away with both fists and while Louis set himself for the knockout punch, Nature beat him to it, Walcott collapsed, rolled over on his back, struggled to his knees, and began to crawl as the eight and nine counts were recorded by referee Frank Fullam.

Jersey Joe was still down when the fatal ten was reached.

With that victory, Joe Louis made up his mind to quit. He went on another long exhibitions tour and on March 1, 1949, he announced his retirement.

Louis requested that Ezzard Charles of Cincinnati, and Walcott who hailed from Camden, New Jersey, fight for the right to succeed him since they were the outstanding heavyweight contenders. In a contest in Chicago on June 22, 1949, Charles was returned the winner over his Jersey opponent in fifteen rounds.

The National Boxing Association accepted this as a world title match, but neither the European Confederations nor the New York Commission acknowledged Charles as the new champion.

To prove his right to the crown, he stopped Gus Lesnevich, former light heavyweight king and Pat Valentino of California, each in eight rounds. Then he added New York to his supporters by stopping Freddie Beshore in Buffalo in fourteen rounds.

Unlike Jack Dempsey, with whom Louis had been frequently been compared, the Brown Bomber had a vulnerable chin. He couldn’t take it as the Manassa Mauler could, that was evidence but the number of times Louis was dropped to the canvas.

In addition to being floored by Jersey Joe Walcott, he was put down by Buddy Baer, Tony Galento, and Jimmy Braddock in championship contests, and by Max Schmeling twice before, and by Rocky Marciano after returning as champion.

He grossed $4,626,721.69 during his fighting career, yet following the retirement he owed more than a million dollars in taxes to the U.S Government due to the loss of his fortune in poor investments and high living.

Louis was not the last of the champs in a million-dollar gate promotion.

Louis’ friends were now clamouring for him to return to the ring and attempt to regain the throne he had abdicated. He challenged Charles.

The champ accepted and further clinched his claim to world laurels. He gained universal recognition as Joe’s successor when he easily outpointed the Brown Bomber in fifteen rounds at the Yankee Stadium.

When Joe Louis tried a comeback in 1951, he felt confident that he could put Rocky Marciano away as he had done so often with other opponents. Rocky surprised him by landing a haymaker in the eighth round.

After he was knocked through the ropes, Louis made an attempt to fight back his rushing opponent, but Marciano, with the stakes high, didn’t let Louis get away from him. He pounced on the former champ and soon had him helpless. Referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the fight

This bout set Marciano up for a title and was the end of the trail for the Brown Bomber.

In all, Louis made 25 defences of his Heavyweight title from 1937 to 1948, and was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division, the former in any division.

His most remarkable record is that he knocked out 23 opponents in 27 title fights, including 5 world champions.

In addition to his accomplishments inside the ring, Louis uttered two of boxing’s most famous observations: “He can run, but he can’t hide” and “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit

Joe Louis was the first black heavyweight champion, after Jack Johnson, whose victories caused riots. His demeanour was of great importance to him and was so exemplary that he became immensely popular with black and white supporters alike. Sadly, his financial problems were not eased and he was forced to use his name first by wrestling and then as a host in a Vegas casino.

Starting in the 1960s, Louis was frequently mocked by segments of the African-American community including Muhammad Ali for being an “Uncle Tom.”

Drugs took a toll on Louis in his later years. In 1969, he was hospitalized after collapsing on a New York City street. While the incident was at first credited to “physical breakdown,” underlying problems would soon surface.

In 1970, he spent five months at the Colorado Psychiatric Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Denver, hospitalized by his wife, Martha, and his son, Joe Louis Barrow Jr., for paranoia.

In a 1971 book, Brown Bomber, by Barney Nagler, Louis disclosed the truth about these incidents, stating that his collapse in 1969 had been caused by cocaine and that his subsequent hospitalization had been prompted by his fear of a plot to destroy him.

Strokes and heart ailments caused Louis’s condition to deteriorate further later in the decade.

He had surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm in 1977 and thereafter used a scooter for a mobility aid.

Louis died of cardiac arrest in Desert Springs Hospital near Las Vegas on April 12, 1981, just hours after his last public appearance viewing the Larry Holmes-Trevor Berbick Heavyweight Championship.

Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for burial at Arlington National Cemetery and Louis was buried there with full military honors on April 21, 1981.

His funeral was paid for in part by former competitor and friend, Max Schmeling, who also acted as a pallbearer.


All Joe Louis's losses

Date Opponent Result Notes
1951-10-26 Rocky Marciano Loss
TKO
1950-09-27 Ezzard Charles Loss
UD
National Boxing Association (1921-1962) World Heavyweight Title
1936-06-19 Max Schmeling Loss
KO


Boxing in History (Part 2)

    1st TV sports/boxing spectacular-Joe Louis KOs Billy Conn Joe Louis KOs Tami Mauriello in 1 for heavyweight boxing title Joe Louis beats Jersey Joe Walcott in 15 for heavyweight boxing title Joe Louis KOs Jersey Joe Walcott in 11 for heavyweight boxing title Willie Pep recaptures world featherweight boxing title Former world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis retires with a 66-3-0 record including 52 KOs defended the title a record 25 times

Boxing Title Fight

1949-06-22 Ezzard Charles beats Jersey Joe Walcott in 15 for National Boxing Association world heavyweight title

    Ezzard Charles TKOs Gus Lesnevich in 8 for heavyweight boxing title Ezzard Charles TKOs Pat Valentino in 8 for heavyweight boxing title Ezzard Charles defeats Jersey Joe Walcott for heavyweight boxing title Ezzard Charles TKOs Freddie Beshore in 14 to retain heavyweight boxing title

Boxing Title Fight

1950-08-25 Sugar Ray Robinson KOs Jose Basora to win middleweight boxing title

    South African world bantamweight boxing champion Vic Toweel sets a record for knockdowns in a title fight against Englishman Danny Sullivan in Johannesburg Sullivan floored 14 times in 10 rounds before fight stopped Ezzard Charles KOs Nick Barone in 11 for heavyweight boxing title

Boxing Title Fight

1951-10-26 Future world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano defeats former champion Joe Louis by TKO in the 8th round at Madison Square Garden

Boxing Title Fight

1952-06-05 1st sporting event televised nationally - Jersey Joe Walcott beats Ezzard Charles in 15 for heavyweight boxing title

    Undefeated Rocky Marciano KOs defending champion Jersey Joe Walcott in the 13th round at Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia for the world heavyweight boxing title

Event of Interest

1953-01-11 J. Edgar Hoover declines 6 figure offer to become president of International Boxing Club

    Boxing's NBA adopts 10-pt-must-scoring-system (10 pts to round winner) Rocky Marciano TKOs home town favourite Roland LaStarza in 11 at NYC's Polo Grounds to retain his world heavyweight boxing title

Boxing Title Fight

1954-01-27 American boxer Archie Moore beats Joey Maxim in 15-round unanimous decision to retain his world light heavyweight title at the Orange Bowl, Miami last of famous trilogy of fights, all won by Moore

    Rocky Marciano beats Ezzard Charles by unanimous points decision in his 3rd world heavyweight boxing title defence at Yankee Stadium, NYC In a quick re-match at Yankee Stadium, NYC, Rocky Marciano KOs Ezzard Charles in the 8th round to retain his world heavyweight boxing title

Boxing Title Fight

1955-01-07 20 year-old future world heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson scores a 5th-round TKO of Willie Troy in a non-title super middleweight bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden

    Rocky Marciano beats Don Cockell by TKO in the 9th round at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco to retain his world heavyweight boxing title In his last fight, undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano KOs light heavyweight Archie Moore in the 9th round at Yankee Stadium, NYC New York psychologist Joyce Brothers wins "$64,000 Question" with topic of boxing Undefeated world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano, retires from the ring After going bankrupt in 1955, the American national broadcaster DuMont Television Network makes its final broadcast, a boxing match from St. Nicholas Arena

Olympic Gold

1960-09-05 Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali] beats 3-time European champion Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland by unanimous points decision to win Olympic light heavyweight boxing gold medal at the Rome Games

    Future world middleweight boxing champion Nino Benvenuti of Italy beats Yuri Radonyak of the Soviet Union to win welterweight gold medal at the Rome Olympics Floyd Patterson KOs Ingemar Johansson in 6 for heavyweight boxing title Floyd Patterson KOs Tom McNeeley in 4 for heavyweight boxing title Emile Griffith beats Benny " Kid" Paret by TKO in 12th round in welterweight boxing title fight at MSG, NYC Paret dies 10 days later first use of television slow motion replay

Boxing Title Fight

1962-09-25 Challenger Sonny Liston KOs Floyd Patterson at 2:06 of round 1 at Comiskey Park, Chicago to win the world heavyweight boxing title

    In their second clash Sonny Liston once again KOs Floyd Patterson in round 1 at the Convention Center, Las Vegas to retain the world heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali [Cassius Clay] wins his first world heavyweight boxing title when Sonny Liston fails to come out for round 7 at the Convention Center, Miami Beach

Olympic Gold

1964-10-23 Future undisputed world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier dominates German Hans Huber for an easy points win and the Olympic heavyweight gold medal in Tokyo

    Former world heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson beats Canadian George Chuvalo by unanimous decision in a 12-round non-title clash at New York’s Madison Square Garden 'The Ring' names bout Fight of the Year. Ernie Terrell beats Eddie Machen in 15 for heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali KOs Sonny Liston at 2:12 of round 1 at Central Maine Civic Center, Lewiston to retain his WBC/WBA heavyweight boxing title Ernie Terrell retains WBA heavyweight boxing title beats Canadian George Chuvalo in 15 round points decision in Toronto In his second title defence, Muhammad Ali scores 12th-round KO of Floyd Patterson at Las Vegas Convention Center to retain his world heavyweight boxing championship Muhammad Ali beats George Chuvalo in 15 for heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali TKOs Henry Cooper in 6 for heavyweight boxing title Ernie Terrell beats Doug Jones in 15 wba for heavyweight boxing title Puerto Rican champion José Torres beats Eddie Cotton on points in Las Vegas to retain the WBC/WBA light-heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali TKOs Karl Mildenberger in 12 for heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali pummels Ernie Terrell for 15 rounds to retain his world heavyweight boxing crown at Houston Astrodome regains Terrell’s WBA belt as well Muhammad Ali KOs Zora Folley in 7 for heavyweight boxing title Muhammad Ali refuses induction into army & stripped of boxing title Octagonal boxing ring is tested to avoid corner injuries Joe Frazier takes his record to 20-0 and captures vacant world heavyweight boxing title stops Buster Mathis in 11th round TKO at Madison Square Garden, NYC Joe Frazier stops Mexican challenger Manuel Ramos in 2nd round TKO at NYC's Madison Square Garden in his first heavyweight boxing title defence Jimmy Ellis beats Floyd Patterson in 15 for heavyweight boxing title

Olympic Gold

1968-10-26 Future world heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman wins the Olympic heavyweight gold medal when the final against Jonas Čepulis (Soviet Union) is stopped in round 2 at the Mexico City Games

    Joe Frazier beats Oscar Bonavena in 15 for heavyweight boxing title American Joe Frazier KOs American Dave Zyglewick in 1st round to retain heavyweight boxing title, in Houston, Texas Joe Frazier TKOs Jerry Quarry in 8 for heavyweight boxing title Joe Frazier TKOs Jimmy Ellis in 5 for heavyweight boxing title Joe Frazier KOs Bob Foster in 2 for heavyweight boxing title Body of former world heavyweight boxing champion Charles "Sonny" Liston (40) is found by his wife Geraldine at their Las Vegas home he had been dead for an estimated 6 days foul play suspected

Sinatra Snaps the Fight of the Century

1971-03-08 Joe Frazier ends Muhammad Ali's 31-fight winning streak at Madison Square Garden, NYC retains heavyweight boxing title by unanimous points decision over 15 rounds in the "Fight of the Century"

Sinatra is the focus of attention as he prepares to take his ringside shots and, right, the controversial Life magazine cover picture that the singer took

Joe Louis Beats Freddie Beshore - HISTORY

Ben Beshore, the crew chief tasked with helping to rejuvenate one of NASCAR’s top teams, has a richer history of winning than most might know about — that is, unless you were tuned into southern Pennsylvania’s youth sports scene 20-some years ago.

Beshore spent many a grade-school summer Saturday harvesting checkered flags in go-karts at Hunterstown Speedway in Gettysburg. As his high school days wound down, he sharpened his focus on football Friday nights in the fall, scoring a conference-high 22 touchdowns as a durable running back his senior year, helping Central York barrel to an unbeaten championship season.

“That was a lot of fun,” Beshore says now with a laugh, “but I definitely pay for it when I wake up in the morning now, close to 40.”

Now 39 and well removed from his gridiron glory days, the spotlight will hit Beshore in a different arena next year as the longtime engineer and car chief moves to crew-chief duties for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota team and two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. The jump to NASCAR’s top division comes after a successful four-win season in the Xfinity Series with Rookie of the Year Harrison Burton, but it also marks the culmination of a long path to the top of a major-league pit box.

That goal stems from deep roots, both in racing and other sports. Besides Beshore’s go-kart and football success, his cousin, R.J., was an all-conference soccer player in high school. And his family tree also includes Freddie Beshore (“I think he would’ve been my grandfather’s cousin,” Beshore says), a journeyman heavyweight boxer who had the distinction of facing Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano in the same year (1951).

Closer to home, Beshore’s father, Michael, and uncle Richard had raced in motocross growing up, with his dad branching out to flat-track motorcycle racing. Their day jobs were in construction, and the excavation business Beshore’s uncle owned led to the carving of a 1/8-mile dirt oval on the family’s 230-acre farm for the young sons.

“We would run tons and tons of laps, and then when we went to an actual go-kart race, like a sanctioned race, I think I was 8 or 9, I had thousands of laps of practice,” Beshore says. “Those kids were only running like 30 laps a week, so I had a pretty big practice advantage on them. That’s how we kind of got started.”

Beshore stayed with it. He supplemented his mechanical engineering coursework at Virginia Tech by working summers at a local speed shop back home and some part-time driving in a street-stock class at Lincoln Speedway in nearby Abbottstown.

“I was just trying to get as much experience on the real-life car side rather than being stuck in the books,” Beshore says. “I just tried to get as much racing experience as I could in college. Once I graduated, I really didn’t have anything lined up. I just moved to Charlotte and knocked on doors until I got something to stick.”

His graduation dovetailed with a technology boom in NASCAR, where engineering degrees were beginning to become must-haves for team rosters. Short-term jobs eventually led to steadier employment as a car chief and engineer with the former Brewco Motorsports team in the Xfinity Series. R.J. Beshore landed there, too, as a mechanic. Their race-day duties included over-the-wall detail — Ben as the rear-tire carrier with R.J. doing the same work up front.

Even back then, a position for Ben Beshore as a team leader seemed like an eventual destination. Brewco crew chief Newt Moore prophetically told the York (Pa.) Daily Record in 2006 that as a car chief, “he would run the offense for us, no doubt. Ben has stepped up into that spot. We tried two or three others, and they failed. His work ethic, mental makeup and mechanical engineering background give him a leg up. This is the next step up toward becoming crew chief, and he has all the expertise to be a crew chief someday.”

Someday eventually came, after stints at Roush Fenway Racing and later JGR, where he started as a race engineer for the No. 18 team during Busch’s first championship season in 2015. Beshore remained mostly behind the scenes, save for a three-race stint as an interim crew chief for Busch during the 2017 season, when Adam Stevens was briefly suspended for a safety violation. Busch went 3-for-3 in top-10 finishes on Beshore’s watch, adding a pole position at Pocono Raceway in his crew-chief debut.

It’s potentially part of the reason Beshore was poised for a regular crew-chief role with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series program in 2019, when a rotating cast of seven drivers split time in the No. 18 Toyota’s seat. That first season, which Beshore admits was “kind of a blur” as he got more accustomed to the transition from Cup to Xfinity, yielded four victories — all from Busch.

The celebrations helped cement their partnership, which will grow to a driver-crew chief pairing full-time next year.

“If it wasn’t for some mechanical issues, we might’ve won even more of those races, but I feel like our relationship’s really good,” Beshore says. “We have a lot of respect and obviously the success that we had in the past together sort of breeds that respect, so I think it’s really strong there.”

The final primer for Beshore’s big-league call-up came earlier this year, when he shifted to JGR’s No. 20 team for a full-season campaign paired with Burton, who was just 19 years old when the season began. When the COVID-19 outbreak paused the season in March, scrapping weekly practice and qualifying sessions upon racing’s return two months later, Burton’s ability to gain experience suffered. But the seat-time deficit only briefly hindered the performance, as the second-generation prospect netted four victories, including a powerful finish with back-to-back wins just before the season finale.

Cue Beshore’s Cup Series arrival, a move that came amid sweeping changes for JGR’s driver-crew chief lineup after last season. The centerpiece was the splitting up of Busch and Stevens, who had amassed two championships and 28 wins during their six years together. But their final campaign was one of prolonged frustration for Busch, who went agonizingly winless until a late-hour triumph at Texas Motor Speedway in the 34th race of the season.

Even after the Lone Star State victory, Stevens was candid about the potential for a looming shift in his roles, noting that stock-car racing remains a performance-based business. Stevens will move to JGR’s No. 20 Cup Series team to work with Christopher Bell next year, and Beshore will be back at home with the No. 18 group, but this time as a Cup Series rookie in the crew-chief slot.

The opportunity to work closely again with a sure-fire Hall of Famer in Busch is an enticing but daunting one. The major question remains: What needs fixing to return Busch and the team back to their competitive peak?

“It’s sort of hard to pinpoint, to be honest,” Beshore says. “Their Texas weekend was obviously a good blueprint for how to do it. They had an extremely fast car, Kyle did a great job, Adam did a great job on the strategy when it turned into a fuel-mileage situation a little bit. … I think that’s a good blueprint for building off of next year. If we can just look at that and some of the better runs that they’ve had, see what worked and what didn’t, and take the good and weed out the bad, then try to connect the dots to do that more often.”

Beshore says he doesn’t intend to set a win-total target for 2021, but returning Busch to Championship 4 form for the Phoenix finale is “a huge goal.” He’ll be aiming for that alongside his cousin, R.J., who serves as the lead setup mechanic for JGR’s No. 11 team and driver Denny Hamlin.

But even as he nears a milestone birthday with the lingering football aches and pains that accompany it, Beshore says his approaching career milestone has been the result of a worthwhile journey.

“My goal for sure was to become a crew chief,” Beshore says. “It’s not easy. There’s a lot of good people in the sport, so it took a little longer than I wanted it to, but that for sure was my end goal.”


Joe Louis – The Brown Bomber

Long before he retired, the Bomber’s place among ring immortals had become a topic of the worldwide discussion.

Louis brought back to boxing life and color that was badly needed, and when he had no more worlds in to conquer he retired.

In his rise to fame, he faced the good and mediocre, and in his entire career he lost only three contests his knockout by Schmeling before he became a titleholder, and his loss to Ezzard Charles and knockout by Rocky Marciano after he made his comeback attempt.

Max Schmeling Knocks Out Joe Louis

Louis started his professional career following his defeat by Max Marek in the finals of the national amateurs’ championships. Henceforth he was to make a steady rise until he gained the top rung of the ladder.

Prior to the knockout, he had suffered at the hands of Max Schmeling, he had won twenty-seven consecutive bouts, all except four by knockouts.

Among his victims were many of better class heavyweights, including Stanley Poreda, Charley Massera, Patsy Perroni, Natie Brown, Roy Lazer, Roscoe Toles and Hans Birkie.

Then those who had launched his professional career – John Roxborough and Julian Black-aided by Mike Jacobs, who promoted all of his major fights after March 28, 1935, when Joe had won the decision over Brown in Detroit, figured that the Bomber was ready for the top men of his division.

In successive bouts, Joe knocked out Primo Carnera, in six rounds King Levinsky in one Max Baer in four Paulino Uzcudun in four and Charley Retzlaff in one. This became the only setback he suffered during his pre-championship and championship day, the knockout by Schmeling.

So thorough and masterly a job did the Uhlan perform, that the thousands who had come in expectation of seeing the Brown Bomber put another opponent to sleep because of his supposed invincibility sat dumbfounded watching the so-called Executioner executed. Not since the day when the great John L.Sullivan was dethroned by James J Corbett had such a jolt been meted out to the fight public.

The “Superman of Boxing” was a pathetic figure as he sat in his corner, first aid administered to him by his trainer Jack Blackburn and his managers after the fatal ten had been counted over him. Face puffed, the mouse under his eye, thumbs sprained, he looked nothing like the man who had been mowing down opponent after opponent.

When the fight was over, Joe’s mind was set on only one thing-revenge.

He quickly decided on plans to prepare himself for a return bout and Mike Jacobs arranged for his comeback with the aim of building him up for a title bout.

Jack Sharkey was his first victim, he went out in three rounds. The murderous fists of the Brown Bomber worked beautifully that night, next came Al Ettore of Philadelphia. He lasted through part of the fifth session, Jorge Brescia went out in three, Eddie Simms in one, and Steve Ketchell in two, the start was most satisfactory.

Joe’s handlers and Jacobs were delighted with his comeback.

Joe Louis Against Bob Pastor

Under Mike then matched Joe with Bob Pastor of New York who temporarily halted the steady stream of kayos’ by lasting ten round of what the scribes termed a running match. Bob backpedalled throughout the ten frames.

Another knockout of Natie Brown followed, and in the next session, Louis defeated Braddock to win the world crown. The goal of his ambition had been reached but what the most, next to that, was to avenge his knockout by Schmeling.

He sought a quick return bout and this he received after he had outpointed Tommy Farr of Wales in an international championship bout.

Tommy gave an excellent performance against the Bomber, and those among his countrymen who saw the affair both at the ringside and in the movies were strong of the opinion that Farr had won. But the majority of the scribes and judges thought otherwise and correctly so, for Louis, despite the aggressiveness of Tommy, tossed leather at a steady gait in the majority of the rounds, His effectiveness was far superior to that of the Welshman.

It was stirring bout and an excellent final tune-up for Joe Louis.

His triumph over Max Schmeling followed. He scored the second quickest knockout in the history of the heavyweight championship bouts, 2.04 of the opening round, and in accomplishing this wonderful feat he handed Schmeling a terrible beating. Joe collected $349, 288, 40, an average of $2,832 per second, the record up to that time in any championship fight.

The fists of the Bomber crushed his former conqueror in a manner that left no doubt about his superiority.

Joe Louis Gets Revenge On Max Schmeling

Though Schmeling complained about being struck foul kidney punches, every blow was a fair one.

Any that struck Max in the kidneys was because by the twisting of Schmeling’s body as he held on to the upper stand and tried desperately to avoid the vicious attack of his opponent. The first two punches, powerful left hook, started Schmeling on his downfall. Once Louis got the range, he kept up a steady bombardment until Max had been halted.

The first knockdown followed a right to the chin. The German fell on his shoulder and rolled over twice before coming to a rest with his feet in the air. Louis did most of his attack with his right. Nine such blows landed with accuracy in the first minute.

The second time, after a count of two, he got to his feet, a powerful right crashed against his jaw and Max went down on all fours. He tried to straighten himself to rise, but while in the process, his chief second, Max Machon tossed in the towel.

Since this is not permitted under New York rules, Arthur Donovan, the referee, hurled it back, took a good look at Schmeling, and as timekeeper Eddie Joseph had reached eight, Donovan halted the bout.

The King had proved his right to the throne.

With that great victory, a series of contests were arranged for Louis before his enlistment in the Army, in which he tackled all comers in what became known as the “Bum of the Month” battles.

Louis disposed of John Henry Lewis, Jack Roper, Tony Galento, and Bob Pastor in 1939, all by knockouts. Galento floored him but suffered a severe shellacking.

Louis started the next year with a discouraging affair with Arturo Gody of Chile, who lasted fifteen rounds as a result of unorthodox tactics, but later Joe got even with him by stopping him in a return engagement after first halting Johnny Paycheck. A kayo over Al McCoy ended that year’s campaign.

His biggest successes were registered in 1941 when Red Burman, Gus Dorazio, Abe Simon, Tony Musto, Buddy Bear, Billy Conn and Lou Nova were taken into camp. The Simon bout in Detroit, as well as that with Pastor two years previous, was scheduled for twenty rounds but neither went the distance.

Simon was knocked out in the thirteenth round and Pastor in the eleventh.

The bout with Baer resulted in Buddy’s disqualification when he refused to come out for the seventh round, claiming a foul. He had put Joe through the ropes in the opening round of that mill. Buddy asserted that Joe had struck him after the bell had sounded ending the sixth round.

Joe Louis With Buddy Baer

Joe’s victory over Baer marked the champion’s sixth outing in as many months. It had been a busy and wearying campaign of continuous training and fighting, but Louis wasn’t prepared as yet to call it quits. He wanted to keep going.

Billy Conn, a brilliant light heavyweight champion, had been clamouring for a crack at Louis. Billy, a flashy boxer, had been enjoying consistent success against the bigger fellows, and a thirteen round kayo of Bob Pastor had convinced him of his ability to cope with Louis.

Louis wanted a June fight, and since Conn shaped up as the only possible opponent in sight, the match was arranged for the Polo Grounds.

The battle was to prove one of the most tumultuous of Louis’ career, for Conn, outweighed more than twenty-five pounds and at further disadvantages in height and reach, came within the proverbial eyelash of dethroning Louis.

Joe Louis Against Billy Conn

In this contest, the bludgeon was too much for the rapier. For the greater part of thirteen rounds, the beautiful jabbing, clever manoeuvring of Conn gave him the advantage.

Then, Billy, cocky, confident he was Louis master, gambled a fortune on a knockout. He elected to trade punches with his heavy hitting rival and with only two seconds more to go before the bell would end the thirteenth frame, he was counted out by referee Eddie Joseph.

A finishing right from the Bomber’s TNT fist rang down the curtains on the dazzling shows. The game Pitts burgher was within grasp of the crown yet tossed it away by attempting to outslug Joe at a time when the champion was bewildered title holder and not to steady.

From then eleventh through to the finish, Conn had suddenly turned aggressor and handed the champion a sound thrashing, much to the amazement of 54,484 fans who rocked the stands with their enthusiasm.

Overconfidence caused Billy’s downfall. They were slugging it out, Billy with a grin on his face and Joe with a look of bewilderment, when Louis landed a powerful left hook to the jaw.

Joe Louis Didn&RsquoT Let It Go To The Scorecards

He followed that with even a harder right and Conn was in a state of collapse. He had little left after that but courage as Louis battered his body with left and rights until the finishing right-hand wallop came with only second more to go.

Billy Conn came nearest to defeating Louis. When he was halted by Joe, he was ahead of the cards of two of the officials. Judge Marty Monroe had the tally seven to four for Conn with one round even, Referee Eddie Joseph, seven to five for Billy. Judge Healy tabbed it six to six.

Joe Louis Enlisted In The Army In 1942

After enlisting in the U.S Army, Louis went overseas on many exhibition tours. Before doing so he fought the return contest with Buddy Baer for the Naval Relief Fund and stopped Buddy in one round. He then tackled Simon in an Army Relief Fund bout and halted him in six.

When Louis and Conn were discharged from the Army, Mike Jacobs decided to match them in a repeat fight, figuring the public was ready, now that World War Two had ended, for a big-time promotion in boxing. He was correct.

With a ringside top of $100 for the first three rows, that bout staged on June 18, 1946, at the Yankees Stadium, drew a paid attendance of $1,925,564, but the affair wasn’t worth more than a $10 tops show.

From the standpoint of the fans, it was a flop, with little in it to arouse enthusiasm. It was one of the dullest in Joe’s career, owing entirely to the tactics of Conn, who, fighting an entirely different battle from his first encounter with the Bomber, elected to back a step, he took no chances.

Of the twenty-three minutes involved, more than three-quarters were packed with dullness and inaction. Conn offered the patrons nothing but flying feet and was knocked out in 2.19 of the eighth round. Louis couldn’t catch up with Conn to make the bout interesting and Billy wouldn’t mix it. It was inconceivable that these were the same two who had thrilled a vast gathering only five years before!

Joe Louis Vs. Billy Conn (2Nd Meeting)

Up to seven rounds little had been accomplished by either, here and there a weak-hearted jab was tossed. Conn threw nothing that even looked like a punch. Louis tried, but his delivery was ineffective because of the roaming tactics employed by his opponent.

When Conn landed on the canvas he assumed exactly the same posture as did Jack Johnson in Havana-he shaded his eyes from the hot lights, as Johnson did from the sun, while being counted out.

The one-round knockout of Tami Mauriello followed a bout in which Tami came close to dropping the champion in the first half minute. But Louis, after being hurled almost across the ring with the blow, rushed into his opponent with a vicious attack and it soon was all over.

Then a series of exhibitions followed before the Bomber accepted another title defence. This time against he faced the aging Jersey Joe Walcott of Camden, New Jersey.

Joe Louis Vs Jersey Joe Walcott

That historic battle in the Madison Square Garden Arena on December 5, 1947, almost saw the termination of Louis long successes.

Louis retained his crown because he received a split decision verdict, unpopular with the fans and scribes Walcott lost his chance to take the crown through his back-pedalling.

Never in the history of the division has a boxer won a championship running away without attempting dethronement than he ever had been through in his ten years reign as world champion.

December 25, 1947. Joe Louis Vs Jersey Joe Walcott

He was knocked down twice. The first occurred in the opening round for a count of two and the next in the fourth for a count of seven. The Brown Bomber was battered hard and bleeding. At times he looked foolish as he tried to catch up with his elusive target. His reflexes were bad and his defence was poor, all that was revealed plainly to 18,194 persons who paid $216,477 to see the battle, which was considered so one-sided when it was arranged the odds were 1 to 10.

Left jabs and several hooks baffled Louis in the opening round and a solid, short right to the jaw dropped him. The fourth was not a minute old when Walcott crashed his right to the jaw again toppling Louis in his tracks.

Not until the ninth round did Louis catch up with his foe. Like a maniac, he went after Jersey Joe. Though the blows carried jarring force, Jersey Joe withstood them. From then on Walcott missed many roundhouse rights and kept racing madly away from Louis, only occasionally halting momentarily to toss effective jabs to the head. It was the sprinting tactics of Jersey Joe which cost him the fight.

Referee Ruby Goldstein saw the challenger the victor, crediting Walcott with seven rounds to six with two even. Marty Monroe, one of the judges, gave the decision to Louis, none to six, and Judge Frank Forbes called Louis the winner, eight to six and one even.

In a return bout six months later, June 25, 1948, at the Yankees Stadium, 42,657 persons saw Louis decisively whip his tormentor by knocking Walcott out in the eleventh round. It was Joe’s twenty-fifth and last title defence. Louis came back a long way to overcome crafty antagonist who had baffled him for ten rounds, then crumbled to the canvas when the Bomber caught up with him.

June 25, 1948: Joe Louis Defeated Jersey Joe Walcott By Ko In Round 11

Two minutes of the eleventh round had slipped away in a contest that had been quite tame and had drawn the boos of the crowd. Louis kept pressing, Walcott kept slipping aside, but the champion was in no mood to go through a repetition of their first encounter. Walcott was leading during the first two minutes of the round when his antagonist suddenly attacked with fury.

Lefts and rights landed on Walcott’s head, but he made the error of coming off the ropers to swap blows with the Bomber. Jersey Joe thought he had the fight cinched and there’s where he erred.

Louis nailed him with a right after three beautiful straight lefts to head and face had numbed Walcott’s brain. His legs were now rubbery. A right to the body and he dropped his guard. As he began to sag, a fast and furious barrage followed.

Louis went after the kill, backed his man against the ropes, pounded away with both fists and while Louis set himself for the knockout punch, Nature beat him to it, Walcott collapsed, rolled over on his back, struggled to his knees, and began to crawl as the eight and nine counts were recorded by referee Frank Fullam.

Joe Louis Knocks Jersey Joe Walcott Out For The Count

Jersey Joe was still down when the fatal ten was reached.

With that victory, Joe Louis made up his mind to quit. He went on another long exhibitions tour and on March 1, 1949, he announced his retirement.

Louis requested that Ezzard Charles of Cincinnati, and Walcott who hailed from Camden, New Jersey, fight for the right to succeed him since they were the outstanding heavyweight contenders. In a contest in Chicago on June 22, 1949, Charles was returned the winner over his Jersey opponent in fifteen rounds.

The National Boxing Association accepted this as a world title match, but neither the European Confederations nor the New York Commission acknowledged Charles as the new champion.

The &LsquoBrown Bomber&Rsquo Throws A Punch At Freddie Beshore In 1951

To prove his right to the crown, he stopped Gus Lesnevich, former light heavyweight king and Pat Valentino of California, each in eight rounds. Then he added New York to his supporters by stopping Freddie Beshore in Buffalo in fourteen rounds.

Unlike Jack Dempsey, with whom Louis had been frequently been compared, the Brown Bomber had a vulnerable chin. He couldn’t take it as the Manassa Mauler could, that was evidence but the number of times Louis was dropped to the canvas.

In addition to being floored by Jersey Joe Walcott, he was put down by Buddy Baer, Tony Galento, and Jimmy Braddock in championship contests, and by Max Schmeling twice before, and by Rocky Marciano after returning as champion.

He grossed $4,626,721.69 during his fighting career, yet following the retirement he owed more than a million dollars in taxes to the U.S Government due to the loss of his fortune in poor investments and high living.

Louis was not the last of the champs in a million-dollar gate promotion.

Louis’ friends were now clamouring for him to return to the ring and attempt to regain the throne he had abdicated. He challenged Charles.

The champ accepted and further clinched his claim to world laurels. He gained universal recognition as Joe’s successor when he easily outpointed the Brown Bomber in fifteen rounds at the Yankee Stadium.

When Joe Louis tried a comeback in 1951, he felt confident that he could put Rocky Marciano away as he had done so often with other opponents. Rocky surprised him by landing a haymaker in the eighth round.

Rocky Marciano Nails Joe Louis To The Ropes

After he was knocked through the ropes, Louis made an attempt to fight back his rushing opponent, but Marciano, with the stakes high, didn’t let Louis get away from him. He pounced on the former champ and soon had him helpless. Referee Ruby Goldstein stopped the fight

Rocky Marciano Knocks Out Joe Louis

This bout set Marciano up for a title and was the end of the trail for the Brown Bomber.

In all, Louis made 25 defences of his Heavyweight title from 1937 to 1948, and was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division, the former in any division.

His most remarkable record is that he knocked out 23 opponents in 27 title fights, including 5 world champions.

In addition to his accomplishments inside the ring, Louis uttered two of boxing’s most famous observations: “He can run, but he can’t hide” and “Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit

Joe Louis was the first black heavyweight champion, after Jack Johnson, whose victories caused riots. His demeanour was of great importance to him and was so exemplary that he became immensely popular with black and white supporters alike. Sadly, his financial problems were not eased and he was forced to use his name first by wrestling and then as a host in a Vegas casino.

Starting in the 1960s, Louis was frequently mocked by segments of the African-American community including Muhammad Ali for being an “Uncle Tom.”

Drugs took a toll on Louis in his later years. In 1969, he was hospitalized after collapsing on a New York City street. While the incident was at first credited to “physical breakdown,” underlying problems would soon surface.

In 1970, he spent five months at the Colorado Psychiatric Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Denver, hospitalized by his wife, Martha, and his son, Joe Louis Barrow Jr., for paranoia.

In a 1971 book, Brown Bomber, by Barney Nagler, Louis disclosed the truth about these incidents, stating that his collapse in 1969 had been caused by cocaine and that his subsequent hospitalization had been prompted by his fear of a plot to destroy him.

Strokes and heart ailments caused Louis’s condition to deteriorate further later in the decade.

He had surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm in 1977 and thereafter used a scooter for a mobility aid.

Louis died of cardiac arrest in Desert Springs Hospital near Las Vegas on April 12, 1981, just hours after his last public appearance viewing the Larry Holmes-Trevor Berbick Heavyweight Championship.

Boxing Greats Gathering At Grave Of Joe Louis

Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for burial at Arlington National Cemetery and Louis was buried there with full military honors on April 21, 1981.

His funeral was paid for in part by former competitor and friend, Max Schmeling, who also acted as a pallbearer.


The Championship Fight That Went Beyond Boxing

DETROIT— ON a median in a major intersection outside the City-County Building is an 8,000-pound, bronze sculpture of a huge, bare forearm, the fingers of its hand tightly clenched.

Just west of the Fist, in the lobby of Cobo Hall, a downtown convention and exhibition center, is another bronze monument, a 10-foot-high statue of a boxer in gloves, trunks and shoes, his fists in front of him, as if he is about to unleash a combination of punches.

Farther west, about a quarter of a mile away, is a modern sports facility that seats 20,000 people.

All are monuments to Joe Louis, the late boxer who grew up in this city's Black Bottom section and who became, like his monuments, a larger-than-life symbol for many.

Joe Louis Barrow, once the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, died in 1981 after many years of financial and health problems. But the memory of him remains rich and very much alive in his hometown, in the nation and throughout the world.

A champion athlete of the 1930's and 1940's, Louis was a young man who went from poverty to wealth during the Depression, a black hero in a white culture, an American patriot during an era of world war. Fifty years ago this Wednesday, those themes of sport, race and international politics mixed in an explosive 124 seconds that formed the pinnacle of Louis's career and one of the major sports events of the 20th century.

On that humid night of June 22, 1938, Louis defended his heavyweight title with a first-round knockout of the German boxer Max Schmeling in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

To call the event mythical is to cheapen it. The word implies fabrication. When Louis defeated Schmeling, the fight had major and very real undercurrents having little to do with boxing.

''We were aware of not only the implications as far as our neighborhood hero was concerned,'' recalled Mayor Coleman A. Young of Detroit, one of Louis's boyhood friends, ''but also what this meant to black people and what it meant to the United States. It had a worldwide implication as we headed toward World War II.''

That spring, Germany, under Adolf Hitler, had annexed Austria. Preaching a doctrine of racial superiority of white Aryans, the Nazi government had begun a systematic campaign against Jews that was to result in the Holocaust.

''Hitler was killing people and declaring superiority,'' said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a Democratic candidate for President. ''And he had put forth his pure specimen, Max Schmeling, who said he did not mean to be that, but the fact is he became that symbol.

''And when he put forth his Philistinian giant, in a sense, he said to America and the Western world: 'You put forth someone more superior. We have a superior race.' It was bigger than athletics. Bigger than politics, really. Politics with a capital 'P.' ''

The bout also had its implications for sports and race in America.

Louis, the first black to hold the heavyweight title since Jack Johnson in 1915, had lost just one pro fight, to Schmeling in 1936, by a knockout in the 12th round.

At the time of the first fight, Louis was 22 years old and relatively inexperienced Schmeling, a 30-year-old former champion, was in the late prime of his career. A year after losing to Schmeling, Louis had won the championship by knocking out James Braddock in Chicago, but had said afterward, ''I don't want nobody to call me champ until I beat Schmeling.''

By then, the political climate had chilled the temperature in sports. Hitler and Germany had been hosts for the 1936 Olympics. Many Americans believed Hitler had snubbed Jesse Owens, the American track star who had won four gold medals.

Owens and Louis were more than just sports stars. At the time, there still lived some Americans who, like Louis's grandparents, had been slaves.

''I was born in 1941,'' Jackson said, ''and my name is Jesse Louis Jackson.''

By the time Louis and Schmeling met before 70,043 paying customers in 1938, their rematch had come to represent much more than the manly art of self-defense.

''Lean over, Joe, so I can feel your muscles,'' President Franklin D. Roosevelt had told Louis a few weeks before when the fighter visited the White House. ''Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany.''

Freddie Guinyard, 73 years old, one of Louis's boyhood friends who later was a longtime member of the boxer's entourage, recently recalled that between the two fights with Schmeling, Louis would be taunted on this travels by children who said, ''Look out Joe, here comes Schmeling!'' Guinyard said Louis never spoke to him about revenge, but that he knew evening the score was on Louis's mind.

Louis was less reticent in his 1976 autobiography, ''Joe Louis: My Life.'' ''I damn sure wanted to get to Schmeling,'' Louis wrote. ''I'd been to New York at least five times to try and sign this deal up. If I hadn't have been champion, I don't think he would have come around.''

''White Americans - even while some of them were lynching black people in the South - were depending on me to K.O. a German,'' he wrote. ''I knew I had to get Schmeling good. I had my own personal reasons, and the whole damned country was depending on me.''

''Joe never was a bitter person,'' Guinyard said in a recent interview. ''Even in the later years, when he was bedridden, we'd sit and talk and remember the good times and the fun.''

On the walls of the front room of Guinyard's home are dozens of photographs of the fighter: Louis in the army, Louis riding a horse, Louis swinging a golf club, Louis playing softball. There is a program from Louis's funeral, listing Jackson as the speaker, Frank Sinatra as a pallbearer, and the selected music as ''Bridge Over Troubled Waters.''

Into his private Louis museum, Guinyard carried a boxing glove covered with a thin layer of tarnished bronze. The glove was inscribed, ''June 22, 1938.''

''This is the right-hand glove Joe used to knock out Max Schmeling,'' said Guinyard, who was at ringside that night as Louis's observer in the Schmeling corner. ''I have been offered a considerable amount of money for that. It means more to me than money.''

To watch black-and-white films of the fight, half a century later, is to understand why boxing is often the target of efforts to ban it on humanitarian grounds.

Louis immediately advances from right to left and forces Schmeling's back to the ropes. After a few combinations, a right hand to the head causes Schmeling's right foot to kick involuntarily and his right hand to grab the top rope for support.

Schmeling's guard drops. He is out of fighting stance, and he is trying to hold Louis away by merely extending his left arm.

Louis throws a dozen punches, landing 10, most of them to the head. Schmeling turns to his right, as if seeking to exit. When Schmeling's knees buckle, the referee, Arthur Donovan, steps between the fighters and begins a count that ends at two as Schmeling lets go of the rope and unsteadily pursues Louis. He is greeted with another right and crashes to the canvas.

Schmeling seems to bounce from the floor and come back for more. Louis obliges, dropping him again with another combination. A towel of surrender, thrown from Schmeling's corner, sails over the ropes. The referee throws it back and it catches on the middle rope.

Across the United States - this was a decade before television - the voice of the radio announcer Clem McCarthy described the ending in a steady growl:

''Louis measures him right to the body, a left to the jaw. And Schmeling is down! The count is five . . . six, seven, eight. The men are in the ring, the fight is over on a technical knockout, and Schmeling is beaten in one round!''

Many Americans can still recall hearing those words.

''Black people in Detroit had developed a tradition during the Joe Louis fights of gathering in Paradise Valley,'' Young said, referring to a neighborhood. ''In fact, we roped off the area on St. Antoine between Madison and Adams and set up loudspeakers from the various night clubs over which you could hear the fight broadcast. . . . I remember the joy, the exultation.''

Others weren't as thrilled. Part of the postfight lore - difficult to confirm now, but, like Hitler's supposed snub of Owens, believed by many - is that the German broadcast of the bout was cut off before the fight ended.

Former President Jimmy Carter, in his 1975 autobiography, ''Why not the Best?,'' recalled the reaction of listeners in his boyhood home in Georgia.

''All our black neighbors came to see daddy when the second Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight was to take place,'' Carter wrote. ''There was intense interest and they asked if they could listen to the fight. We propped the radio up in the open window of our house and we and our visitors sat and stood under a large mulberry tree nearby. . . .

''My father was deeply disappointed in the outcome. There was no sound from anyone in the yard, except a polite, 'Thank you, Mr. Earl,' offered to my father.

''Then, our several dozen visitors filed across the dirt road, across the railroad track, and quietly entered a house about a hundred yards away in the field. At that point, pandemonium broke loose inside that house.''

Louis was to keep the title another 11 years Schmeling never fought again for the championship. Both men spent World War II serving their nations in the military.

While Louis's life later became a sad tale of mental and physical illness, financial difficulties before his death at age 66, Schmeling went on to prosper in the soft-drink business. Today, he enjoys a comfortable life in West Germany at the age of 82.

Although some people dispute the historical significance of the 1938 fight, others, looking back through the decades, see symbolism and more.

''Up from the ghetto of Detroit rose a young David who slew Hitler's Goliath,'' said Jesse Jackson. ''In a real sense, Joe Louis knocked down barriers. People everywhere have benefited ever since.''

This tribute to Louis after his defeat appeared in The Pittsburgh Courier, June 27, 1936. The headline says “Joe Louis, We Are With You.”


Share All sharing options for: Gods of War: Ezzard Charles

Ezzard Mack Charles was born July 7, 1921 in Georgia, but his family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio while he was still young. There he took up boxing and by the time Charles was a teenager he was excelling, winning bouts as an amateur Featherweight. He won several local titles and the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament of champions, finishing his amateur career while still in high school with a 42-0 record.

Even at this early point in his career it was clear that the Charles was a different breed of fighter. He was blessed with the physical traits looked for in a top fighting prospect, but it was also obvious that Charles had the makings of a technical master. He had very accurate punches that were set up well with footwork, angles and feinting. He would blossom into one of the mid-1900s true sweet scientists. His speed and accuracy would earn him the nickname "the Cincinnati Cobra".

Charles, who made his professional debut in March of 1940, was no different. Charles won his first pro fight by knocking out Melody Johnson, a local fighter, in the fourth round.

The 1940's would be a decade of deep talent in boxing, and young prospects would be tossed to the wolves very quickly. In just his third pro fight Charles defeated Remo Fernandez, a veteran of over 90 fights, and then later that year Charles, just 19-years-old at the time, would lose a decision to former Middleweight champion Ken Overlin, who had over 100 career wins at the the time. Charles would get a rematch over a year later and fight Overlin to a draw.

Charles continued to develop his skills and then in 1942 he faced his toughest test yet. Charley Burley was the World Colored Middleweight Champion and he was set to defend his title against Ken Overlin in Forbes Field. When Overlin was unable to fight, Charles was called up for a non-title fight.

Burley was a fearsome fighter with a reputation for mauling larger fighters, and had been avoided by many elite boxers. But the rising young Charles put on a masterful performance against Burley, knocking him down in the third then nearly knocking him out in the final round. The crowd in Burley's home town of Pittsburgh is reported to have given Charles a large ovation for his performance.

Burley fought again less than a month later, beating his opponent, a crafty boxer similar to Charles, on points. He then declared that he was in shape and wanted to face Charles again, and that he wouldn't be just hunting for the knock out this time. But again it was Charles who had his hand raised when the two met again, having won seven out of the ten rounds.

At this point Ezzard Charles was considered the top contender at Middleweight, but was unable to secure a title shot. Charles was facing difficulties making the weight cut to 160 pounds, and would not be able to stay in the division much longer. The current Middleweight Champion, Tony Zale, simply waited Charles out and, frustrated, Charles moved up to Light Heavyweight in 1942.

Far from getting off to an easy start at the weight Charles faced three of Ohio's best Light Heavyweights in his first four months in the weight class. The last was a fellow up-and-coming great, Joey Maxim. A fellow Ohioan, Maxim would go on to the be the only man to stop "Sugar" Ray Robinson. Charles beat Maxim by decision, and the two re-matched two months later. This time Maxim made a fight of it and was ahead after five rounds, but Charles took firm control of the fight in the second half and took another decision.

Charles would then drop a decision to Jimmy Bivins, a future Light Heavyweight Champion and Heavyweight contender. Then Charles would lose again, this time to Lloyd Marshall, another future contender. Marshall beat Charles for eight rounds, and then knocked him out. Charles' camp would later claim that their fighter took the fight while suffering a hip injury.

The Cobra would fight twice in 1944 before joining the military during World War II. While serving it was rumored that he crossed paths with Billy Conn, a multiple belt holder in the Light Heavyweight division who had vacated his titles to fight Joe Louis at Heavyweight and then serve in the military. The story goes that the two strapped on gloves at some point and Charles flattened Conn, but Charles would dodge questions about the supposed bout in a gentlemanly manner when asked.

Ezzard returned to boxing in 1946 as a Light Heavyweight and won five straight matches. He then would face Archie Moore, a future Light Heavyweight champion and all time great fighter. Charles would be victorious and then get a rematch with Lloyd Marshall.

This time around Ezzard would get dropped in the first round with a body shot, but come back to knock Marshall out in the sixth round.

It is difficult to see the details in this video, but it can be made out that Charles was steadily improving his already impressive skill set. Those skills would allow Charles to continue on the run through the Light Heavyweight division he had started before the war. He would rack up win after win in the division over just about every notable fighter the era had to offer, including rematches with Jimmy Bivins, Archie Moore, and another knockout win over Marshall.

But despite only losing once after the war at Light Heavyweight, a split decision that most agreed went the wrong way, he was never able to get a title shot. So it was in 1949, after beating Joey Maxim for a third time, Charles fought Jersey Joe Walcott for the National Boxing Association World Heavyweight title, left vacant by the retiring Joe Louis, in Comiskey Park, Chicago.

Now a Heavyweight Champion, Charles defended his title against Pat Valentino, and then Freddie Beshore. It was then that living legend Joe Louis returned from retirement to attempt to reclaim the belt he had vacated. A prestigious knockout artist, Louis had been the reigning champion in the Heavyweight division from 1937 to 1948 before retiring and hadn't lost since his famous 1936 match with Max Schmeling.

Louis was a beloved figure in boxing, and was the fan favorite heading into the bout. But when they met in the ring the smaller Charles boxed circles around the aging power puncher.

Charles outclassed Louis, using his feints and slips to totally negated Louis' famous power, and Charles landed counter punch after counter punch. While the Cincinnati Cobra had clearly won the match and even stunned Lewis on a few occasions, he never really had the former Champion in real danger of being knockout.

The outrage was immense. Joe Louis was a transcendent figure in the sport of boxing, one of the greatest Heavyweight champions the sport had ever seen. The man had stood up to Hitler's claim that his Aryan boxers could best anyone, and he had just been out pointed by a former Middleweight. The technical mastery Charles had shown over the sweet science flew over the heads of most fans, and he became reviled during his time as Heavyweight Champion.

Dismissed as a place holder champion and a blown up Light Heavyweight, Charles quietly defended his belt. He cleanly picked apart his challengers, including rematches with Joey Maxim and Jersey Joe Walcott.

Ezzard Charles vs Joey Maxim

Ezzard Charles vs. Jersey Joe Walcott II

But even then through 1950 Ezzard remained unpopular. Many blamed his fighting style, which had slowed somewhat from his earlier days. There are some that assert that Charles had become hesitant in the ring since a match in 1948, where the Ohioan knocked out a man only to have him later die from the injuries Charles had inflicted on him. The incident is said to have affected the Champion deeply and it has been argued that Charles' aggressiveness in the ring was never quite the same afterwards.

Then in 1951, Charles fought Walcott for the third time in three years and this time Walcott was able to land a perfect uppercut counter for the knockout and wrest Charles' belt away. He became the oldest fighter to win a Heavyweight Championship at the time.

Charles spent the next three years trying, and failing, to regain his lost title. Then in 1954, after a knock out win over Bob Satterfield, Charles was given one more shot at the title. But it was not Jersey Joe awaiting Ezzard Charles for the fifth time, it was the 45-0 new champion, Rocky Marciano who had knocked Walcott out.

At this point Charles was a 33 year old former champion, with an 83-10-1 record, who was entering the downside of his career. While only two years younger than the Ohioan, Marciano was in the midst of his run of dominance and had half as many career fights.

But when they met for the first time, it resulted Marciano's most hard fought victory in his spotless career. Charles used all of his famed skill to take up to 6 rounds from Marciano on one scorecard, five on the others, but it wasn't enough as Marciano's hand was raised.

Sadly this fight was not filmed in its entirety, but here is a highlight reel made of what footage we do have.

Rocky Marciano vs Ezzard Charles I Highlights (via IronTapeProductions)

A rematch was scheduled, and this time it was almost Marciano's undoing. While The Rock knocked Charles down in the second round, Charles opened a cut on Marciano's nose that was in real danger of stopping the fight. Marciano came out urgently in the eighth round and knocked Charles out. Ring Magazine declared the bout the Fight of the Year in 1954.

This was the Cobra's last hurrah. From the second fight with Marciano to his retirement in 1959 he went 10-13, finishing his career at 93-25-1. After retiring Charles developed lateral sclerosis, which paralyzed him from the waist down. He passed away May 27, 1975 in Chicago.

Ezzard Charles was under appreciated in his own day because of the stigma attached to him from the Joe Louis fight, but history has recognized his technical brilliance. Many rank Charles as the best Light Heavyweight of all-time because, despite never winning a title at that weight. He beat all of the great Light Heavyweights of his time, many of them more than once. From a Middleweight contender champions avoided, to standing against two of the greatest Heavyweights in the history of the sport, Ezzard Charles was brilliant in defeat as well as victory, and is a welcome member to the Pantheon of the Gods of War.


Watch the video: Joe Louis - For All Time Documentary (June 2022).


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