January 24, 2005

UNDERCARD, 6 FEET UNDER:


Max Schmeling
, Heavyweight Champion Caught in the Middle of Nazi Politics, Dies at 99 (DAVID MARGOLICK, 2/05/05, NY Times)

Max Schmeling, the persistent and meticulous German boxer whose legendarily brief 1938 heavyweight title bout against Joe Louis was so fraught with political and racial overtones that it was called "the undercard of World War II," died on Wednesday at his home in Hollenstedt, Germany, near Hamburg. He was 99.

His death was made public by the Max Schmeling Foundation in Germany, which was set up by the boxer to aid in charitable causes.

In one of boxing's more memorable nights and surely among the most electrifying 124 seconds in the history of sport, Louis, then heavyweight champion of the world, crushed Schmeling in front of 70,000 fans at Yankee Stadium. For Louis, the first-round knockout was sweet revenge: two years earlier, in what many consider one of the greatest upsets in heavyweight history, Schmeling had knocked out the undefeated and heavily favored Louis in the 12th round.

Between the two fights Louis had beaten James J. Braddock and become world heavyweight champion, a title that Schmeling had held from 1930 to 1932. But Louis hungered for a rematch. "I don't want nobody to call me champ until I beat Schmeling," he said.

And in the supercharged politics of the late 1930's, with Hitler on the march, the Western democracies imperiled and race relations poised to enter a new and more contentious era, what ensued far transcended sport. [...]

Schmeling was actually a largely apolitical man who found himself caught up in the much larger forces of history. He had fought in the United States since 1928 and had been generally well liked. Schmeling had been almost a cult figure to the intellectuals of Weimar Germany, which experienced a great boxing craze. But while many of Schmeling's Jewish friends fled for their lives, Schmeling remained and made the transition to the Nazi era, which he regularly defended in the American news media, with disconcerting ease.

MORE:
The Fight (American Experience, PBS)

Ringside Radio

In the pre-television era of the Thirties, radio was king. Families gathered around their radios to listen to comedies, dramas, the president's fireside chats, and much-anticipated sporting events.

Over 70 million Americans listened to the second match between boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling -- the biggest radio audience to that date for a single program. NBC radio announcer Clem McCarthy delivered a blow-by-blow account, as he had two years prior, for the first Louis-Schmeling fight.

Listen to both fights between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling.

The First Match
June 19, 1936

The Rematch
June 22, 1938

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2005 2:45 PM
Comments

Anybody remember a project back in the 1960's that had a computer match up the greatest boxers of all time and then had them "fight" on the radio? Can't remember who won - Ali or Louis, maybe?

I seem to remember a similar project for basketball.

Posted by: Rick T. at January 24, 2005 4:02 PM

Anybody remember a project back in the 1960's that had a computer match up the greatest heavy weight boxers of all time and then had them "fight" on the radio for the all time championship? Can't remember who won - Ali or Louis, maybe?

I seem to remember a similar project for basketball.

Posted by: Rick T. at January 24, 2005 4:03 PM

The one I saw had Marciano winning, which I found difficult to believe because he only weighed 188.

Posted by: Bart at January 25, 2005 6:45 AM
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