Joe Louis

louis1May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981

Joe Louis was arguably the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Toward the very top, at least. It just so happened that the “Brown Bomber” was also one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. Joseph Louis Barrow became one of the, if not the, first Black national heroes due not only to his dominating presence in the ring, but also to his honest and hardworking persona. Louis also gained international fame when he lost (his first as a professional) to German, Max Schmeling in 1936. The Nazis used Schmeling’s victory to promote the dominance of the so-called Aryian Race. So, Louis fought Schmeling again two years later…and knocked him out in 2 minutes. Louis defended his Heavyweight Title 25 times and held it for 140 months (that’s almost 12 years, for those of you like me who suck at math.) He joined the Army during World War II but never saw combat as the powers that be decided he was better suited to boost morale in the Special Services.  He also integrated golf…you know…just for good measure.

It’s safe to say that Joe Louis is one of the most important figures – Black or otherwise – in the past 100 years of American history. So, I won’t get into his tax troubles or investment failures. Or the drugs, for that matter.  Joe Louis died of cardiac arrest in Las Vegas at the age of 66. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Max Schmeling was one of his pallbearers.


Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, VA

Specific Location

Section 7A, Lot 177, Map Grid U-24; Toward the northwest corner of this section, right next to Lee Marvin.


One Response to “Joe Louis”

  1. I heard Schmeling thought very little of Racists and/or Nazis, and was subsequently sent to the most dangerous parts of the front in hopes of his dying for the Fatherland; he obstinately survived the war and was good friends with Joe.

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