Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis Fought for Black America

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Joe Louis in 1936 (REUTERS).

There was a time in America history when Joe Louis was considered the most important Black American. As the heavyweight champion of the world from 1937-1949, very few people — Black or white — could touch his star power. Americans celebrated Louis for more than just his boxing skills; he was a symbol of what America could be. As Black writer Al Sweeney once wrote in the Cleveland Call and Post in 1942, “Joe Louis hasn’t only proven to be the greatest fighting champion to ever don the abbreviated fight trunks, but he has done more to promote inter-racial (sic) good will than any other Negro individual in history.”

His rise from poverty to championship, coupled with his destruction of German fighter Max Schmeling (the only person he had been defeated by at that point) in 1938, and his patriotic sacrifice during…

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