Joseph Louis Barrow, best know as Joe Louis, was born on this day in 1914. Louis held the heavyweight world title from 1937 to 1949 and is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
Louis’ championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 26 championship fights; a 27th fight, against Ezzard Charles, was a challenge to Charles’ heavyweight title and so is not included in Louis’ reign. Louis was victorious in 25 title defenses, a world record second only to Julio Cesar Chavez with 27. In 2005, Louis was ranked as the #1 heavyweight of all-time by the International Boxing Research Organization, and was ranked #1 on The Ring Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Punchers of All-Time.
Louis’ cultural impact was felt well outside the ring. He is widely regarded as the first African American to achieve the status of a nationwide hero within the United States, and was also a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II. He was instrumental in integrating the game of golf, breaking the sport’s color barrier in America by appearing under a sponsor’s exemption in a PGA event in 1952.
Joe Louis finished his career with an impressive 66-3-0 record with 52 KO’s. His last professional fight was against boxing legend Rocky Marciano.