Born in Alabama in 1914, Joe "The Brown Bomber " Louis (born Joseph
Louis Barrow), would become the first Black national sports hero. He
began his professional career as a boxer in 1934, but was known for fighting
well before then, having knocked out four childhood tormentors at the
tender age of eight.
Fighting Max Baer in 1935, he became the first Black figther to draw a
million dollar gate. He was also the first Black fighter to win
Ring magazine's fighter of the year award. Winning the
heavyweight title in 1937, he successfully defended it twenty five
times, being the first Black fighter to do so. In 1954 he became the
first Black heavyweight elected in the Hall of Fame. Maintaining his
title for over ten years he held it longer than any other man in
Joe Louis died in Las Vegas in 1981. By order of then-president
Ronald Reagan, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetary.
In truth, Joe Louis was a folk hero, and broke down many barriers to
Black participation in athletics.