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Joe Louis The Rise and Fall of the Brown Bomber By Tom Myler

Release date: 18th September, 2019
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £13.99
You Save: £3 (17%)
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Joe Louis dominated the world of heavyweight boxing for more than a decade from the mid-1930s, his appeal considerably enhanced after he knocked out the German Max Schmeling inside the first round on the eve of World War II.

Louis became a national hero, but despite earning astronomical sums of money, he was almost permanently in debt and pursued relentlessly by US tax authorities.

Born in rural Alabama, his family moved to Detroit in search of better prospects when he was young. Opportunities were thin on the ground and young Joe discovered he preferred boxing to the violin and used the money his mother had given him for lessons in the latter to pay for training in the former. He would remain with trainers he met in Detroit for the rest of his career.

Following a series of impressive victories, Louis moved to New York City where he beat highly-rated opponents such as Primo Carnera and Max Baer.

He would lose an epic 12-round battle against Schmeling, although the setback proved temporary as knocked out Jim Braddock to claim the world heavyweight title, redeeming himself in his rematch with Schmeling in a contest billed as a conflict between freedom and Nazism.

The ‘Brown Bomber’s’ status as a national hero was well-founded; fans rooted for him as he made a habit of coming back from seemingly unwinnable positions. This was particularly true of his 12-round duel in 1941 against a young fighter named Billy Conn which ended in the champion knocking out his opponent after he appeared (once again) on the brink of defeat. Reading of this fight in particular conjures black-and-white images of American families huddled around their oversized radios urging their hero on.

During his peak, Louis suffered a single reverse (two later defeats came much later in his career), while his win over Braddock ensured he became the first black boxer to win the heavyweight title since Jack Johnson's reign ended in 1915.

Married three times, Joe Louis threw money around like confetti and despite repeated attempts to invest in businesses that would serve him well in later life, Louis enjoyed negligible success after his years in the ring. Nevertheless, as this book’s jacket cover confirms: when that first bell rang, Joe Louis was the business.


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