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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Latest Boxing News & Rumors Today / June 22, 1938 – “I ain’t no champion ’till I beat Schmeling.” Joe Louis

June 22, 1938 – “I ain’t no champion ’till I beat Schmeling.” Joe Louis

Publish Date: 06/22/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

My father idolized Joe Louis.

Dad had witnessed Louis win the heavyweight title at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1937. He was ten and lived several blocks from the park. His idea was to sneak in.

A kind police officer saw his face and let him in. He ran up the turnstiles. The crowd was buzzing. It was round eight. Dad could see the ring. He focused on Louis. A left hook to the body, followed by a wicked right, detonated Braddock’s body. He collapsed and didn’t move.

Louis was the heavyweight champion of the world. Dad yelled with the rest of the crowd, but he knew Louis had to beat an opponent that worried him.

Max Schmeling.

Video: Louis Vs Schmeling -The Real Story (Documentary)

Louis Vs Schmeling -The Real Story (Documentary)

Louis concurred. After the fight, he said he would have to defeat the German. Then, and only then, would Louis feel like the real champ. Schmeling had won the heavyweight crown in 1932 on a foul. Many accused him of faking it.

Schmeling lost his title to Jack Sharkey. Schmeling’s manager, Joe Jacobs, grabbed the radio microphone and bellowed, “We wuz robbed.”

Max Baer knocked out Schmeling in 1933. The fight was brutal. Schmeling lost his next bout and had fought two times in three years when the 10-1 underdog squared off with Louis in 1936.

Schmeling stunned the boxing world when he knocked out Louis in 12 rounds.

“Never saw it coming,” Dad told me sixty years later.

Schmeling had spotted a flaw in the seemingly indestructible Louis. He carried his left low. Schmeling fired right hand after right hand on fight night. Many found pay dirt. Louis was beaten up, knocked down, and finally out.

Still, a little over two years later, in the same venue, Louis entered the ring on rematch night at Yankee Stadium, a 3-1 favorite.

“The House That Ruth Built” was filled to the gills.

Before the bout began, Dad was as nervous as a cat in a doghouse.

Braddock had floored Louis with a right uppercut. Louis had struggled against tough Tommy Farr.

“Schmeling scared me,” said Dad. “There’s always somebody who can beat you. I was worried that Schmeling was that guy.”

Louis had no fear. Or doubt. He was primed and ready.

Seconds before the fight began, he stared at Schmeling. The German looked nervous. Maybe he knew what was coming.

It took seconds for Louis to take over. He pursued Schmeling, who backed off, his right hand cocked. Perhaps he thought seeing his right hand would make Louis hesitant.

He thought wrong.

Louis unloaded wicked rights and lefts. He had waited a long 24 months for this. Schmeling looked surprised and stricken. The fight was barely a minute old. A powerful right sent Schmeling into the ropes, where he grabbed the top rope. Louis pounced and let fly. Schmeling screamed in agony.

A short stinging right floored Schmeling, who rose quickly but not for long. Louis stepped in with a cracking three-punch combination. The coup de gras was a right. Schmeling crumbed to the canvas.

A white towel from Schmeling’s corner sailed into the ring. Surrender.

Video: Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling II - June 22, 1938

Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling II – June 22, 1938

It had taken Louis a little over two minutes to exact his revenge.

“I ran out into the street,” said Dad, who lived in a predominately Italian neighborhood.

No matter.

Joe Louis had taken down the big bad German and sent a message to a guy named Hitler.

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