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April 12, 1981

On this date:
Joe Louis ~ (World Heavyweight Champion) dies (Category : People)
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default, on 7/29/2007
Joe Louis
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 history.

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.

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