|Vintage Pulp||Jun 23 2011|
This poster from an issue of The National Police Gazette tells the tale of the tape between the immortal Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Walcott. This would be Louis and Walcott’s second bout, Louis having won a controversial decision the previous year. Walcott at thirty-four was the oldest man to ever fight for the heavyweight title, and he was smaller and less powerful than Louis, though he was a very crafty fighter. He lasted ten tough rounds, but Louis finally floored him for the count in the eleventh. That was today, 1948.
|Sportswire||Feb 4 2011|
As long as we’re on the subject of promo materials (see next post), here’s another rare find. It’s a publicity still of German boxer Max Schmeling from late 1929, a time when he was being touted as a contender for the world heavyweight boxing title. The photo was shot in New York City, and was used as a press handout for newspapers and magazines writing features on the fast-rising fighter. Schmeling soon won the heavyweight belt, albeit in controversial fashion, and held it until 1932, when he lost to Jack Sharkey, also controversially.
Actually, controversy followed Schmeling his entire career, peaking around the time of his second bout against Joe Louis, in 1938 at Yankee Stadium. The bout was billed “The Fight of the Century” because by then Schmeling had been anointed a hero of the Nazi Party (though reluctantly, biographers tend to agree), which made his first round destruction by Louis a cause for celebration (though it should be pointed out that many Americans, particularly some wealthy and prominent ones, were openly pro-Hitler).
In 1939 the winds of war began to sweep across the world, and Schmeling fought for the German army in Crete. After the war he became an exec at Coca Cola in Germany, and amassed considerable wealth. Time passed, and he and Joe Louis became friends. When Louis died impoverished in 1981 Schmeling paid for a funeral with full military honors.
Max Schmeling lived fourteen more years, finally dying this week in 2005 at the age of ninety-nine. He is yet another of those complex characters from history, which means we may revisit his story sometime down the road. In the meantime, if you’re inclined, you can read a bit more about the great Joe Louis here.
|Sportswire||Mar 6 2010|
Above we have a National Police Gazette with a boxing cover, from sixty years ago this month, with the editors’ warning to the retired Joe Louis to stay out of the ring. But what the Gazette didn’t know was that the 36 year-old Louis was under investigation by the IRS, and he suspected the outcome wouldn’t be good. In May 1950 Louis was jolted when the authorities declared that he owed half a million dollars in back taxes. With only one way to earn the cash, he cut a deal to box for prize money to put toward his debt. He fought and lost to Ezzard Charles in September, and the next year was knocked clean out of the ring by Rocky Marciano. But for all his efforts he was still in debt. The purses had been low because no one wanted to pay to see Louis—who was the first African-American considered a national hero by both blacks and whites—beaten to a pulp. After the Marciano debacle, the fight offers dried up. Louis retired again, and this one stuck. We’re going to get back to Joe Louis at a later date, because his is one of the more interesting and inspiring stories you’ll run across. His financial troubles were not so much a failure of character as a failure to comprehend the corrupting force of money, and the need to hire not just a lawyer, a manager, and an accountant, but a lawyer to watch your lawyer, a manager to watch your manager, and especially an accountant to watch your accountant. We have some Gazette interior pages below, and you can see the other Gazette boxing covers here and here.