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Joseph Louis Barrow

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William Smith

on 15 February 2013

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Transcript of Joseph Louis Barrow

Joseph Louis Barrow He is better known as Joe Louis. He was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time and was nicknamed the Brown Bomber. 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's list of the 100 Greatest Punchers of All-Time. Joe Louis was born on May 13, 1914 on Bell Chapel Road. Louis was the son of Munroe Barrow and Lillie Barrow, the seventh of eight children. He weighed 11 pounds at birth. Both Louis' parents were the children of former slaves. Louis spent twelve years growing up in Alabama, where little is known of his childhood. He suffered from a speech impediment and spoke very little until about the age of six. Munroe Barrow went to a mental hospital in 1916 and, as a result, Joe didn't know a lot about his father. Around 1920, Louis's mother married Pat Brooks, a local construction contractor, after she was told that Munroe Barrow had died while in the mental hospital. In 1926, shaken by a gang of white men in the Ku Klux Klan, Louis's family moved to Detroit, Michigan. Joe's brother worked for Ford Motor Company and the family settled into a home at 2700 Catherine (now Madison) Street in Detroit's Black Bottom neighborhood. Louis attended Bronson Vocational School for a time to learn cabinet-making and his mother tried to get him to play the violin. The Depression hit the Barrow family hard, but as an alternative to gang activity, Joe began to start boxing at a local youth recreation center at 637 Brewster Street in Detroit. Louis's amateur debut, at age 17, was in early 1932. After this debut he beat Johnny Miller. Louis had a winning streak that led to him winning the club championship of his Brewster Street recreation center, the home of many aspiring Golden Gloves fighters. In 1933, Louis won the Detroit-area Golden Gloves Novice Division championship by fighting against Joe Biskey. The next year, competing in the Golden Gloves' Open Division, he won the light heavyweight classification, this time also winning the Chicago Tournament of Champions. A hand injury forced Louis to miss the New York/Chicago Champions' cross-town bout for the ultimate Golden Gloves championship in 1934, and he followed up his Chicago performance by winning the United States Amateur Champion National AAU tournament in St. Louis, Missouri in April of that year. By the end of his amateur career, Louis's record was 50 wins against 4 losses, with 43 knockouts.

In his time as a fighter, Joe Louis had 72 fights. He knocked out 57 opponents, endured three defeats and held the championship from 1937 until March 1949, the longest span of a heavyweight titleholder. Louis failed to regain the championship when he returned to the ring in 1950 and when Rocky Marciano knocked him out in 1951. The man who had been called the Brown Bomber was finished. Louis helped elevate boxing from the bottom of popularity after the reign of Jack Dempsey by establishing a reputation as an honest, hardworking fighter at a time when the sport was dominated by gambling. 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. Joe Louis still holds the distinction of having successfully defended his title more times than any other heavyweight in history. He knocked out five world champions and will remain a powerful part of boxing history for many decades to come. His life and success story serve as proof that black and white Americans can coexist. Joe Louis is a role model for all of us and proved that good sportsmanship can exist even in a sport as violent as boxing. Louis died of cardiac arrest in Desert Springs Hospital near Las Vegas on April 12, 1981, just hours after his last public appearance viewing the Larry Holmes-Trevor Berbick Heavyweight Championship. "You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." - Joe Louis
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