Joe Louis: The Great Black Hope

Overview

When Joe Louis (1914–1981) knocked out the German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938 in two minutes and four seconds, the entire nation—black and white—celebrated the "fight of the century" as a victory of the United States against the ominous tide of Nazism. Never had an African-American received such universal praise across racial lines. Heavyweight champion for a record twelve years from 1937 to 1949, Louis opened the doors for such future black athletes as Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.Joe ...

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Overview

When Joe Louis (1914–1981) knocked out the German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938 in two minutes and four seconds, the entire nation—black and white—celebrated the "fight of the century" as a victory of the United States against the ominous tide of Nazism. Never had an African-American received such universal praise across racial lines. Heavyweight champion for a record twelve years from 1937 to 1949, Louis opened the doors for such future black athletes as Jackie Robinson, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.Joe Louis depicts the prizefighter's life, and the times in which he lived, from his childhood in a sharecropper's cabin in Alabama and his formative years in Detroit, to his legendary career, his service in the Army, his stint as a professional wrestler after retiring from boxing in 1951, and his professional demise as an official greeter for a Las Vegas casino. Along the way, Richard Bak compassionately, yet evenhandedly, details Louis's private vices: incessant womanizing, reckless spending habits, massive debts to the IRS, and drug abuse. Filled with over one hundred photographs, including twenty-two in color, Joe Louis is the most comprehensive portrait yet written of one of the greatest African-American heroes who used his fists figuratively—and literally—to fight racism.

More than a simple biography, Joe Louis provides an in-depth look at what constitutes a "hero" in America's black community. As much as any drug store sit-in, civil rights march, or Senate Hill bill, Louis' fists figuratively and literally demolished the myth of white supremacy; his quiet dignity and unquestioned patriotism opened the door for the wave of black athletes who followed him. 32 pages of photos, many in color.

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Editorial Reviews

Dallas Morning News
[This] work takes its place with those excellent boxing histories that are as much about American culture and sociology as they are about sports.
Booknews
When Joe Louis knocked out the German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938, the nation celebrated the fight as a victory against the tide of Nazism. This account of Louis' life traces his beginnings in a sharecropper's cabin in Alabama through his boxing career, his service in the Army, and his professional demise as a greeter for a Las Vegas casino. Includes some 100 photos, 22 in color. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306808791
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 DA CAPO
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Bak, a native of Detroit, is the author of eight books, including the critically acclaimed Lou Gehrig: An American Genius and Ty Cobb: His Tumultuous Life and Times.

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