Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship in 1938 when he knocked
out James Braddock in the 8th round on 6/22/1937. When Louis
knocked out the German, Max Schmeling, exactly one year later, he became
a hero to the white and black American public at a time when segregation
and discrimination were still prevalent. Louis would hold the title for
over 11 years, recording 25 successful defenses of the title.
JOE LOUIS A KNOCKOUT ON FIRST MAT PROGRAM
WASHINGTON, March 16, 1956 (AP)- Joe Louis made a huge success of his wrestling debut tonight, using the ring weapon he knows best- a solid right.
To the howls of 4,179 fans, who braved rain and snow to witness the show, the former heavyweight boxing champion uncorked what’s known as a right forearm punch in the grappling business and smacked his quarry, Cowboy Rock Lee, clean out of the Uline Arena ring.
A whistling right hand sent Lee through the ropes and he was unable to clamber back into the ring before the referee finished his count. Referee Joe Walcott, another ex-heavyweight king, counted Lee out, and Louis was the winner after 10 minutes of tugging, hauling and poking (video).
Billed as a wrestling match, the 240-pound ex-heavyweight champ was matched against the 320-pound Lee in the scheduled one-fall bout.
This was Louis' first night of combat since Rocky Marciano ended his boxing career with a knockout on Oct. 26, 1951. Shuffling forward in his old style, fists at the ready, the old Brown Bomber at times was faintly reminiscent of his old self.
Louis drew something like $1,500 for his work, estimating his reported 25 per cent share of the gate.
Promoter Ray Fabiant has offered him a sure $150,000 to wrestle several times a week for the next year. He expects to make up his mind in a few days. Louis has agreed to make spot performances with regular appearances as a referee.
Louis leaves the ring after Lee fight in Washington.
May Stop The Rock
By JOHN P. CARMICHAEL
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP)- One of the last sights in Florida was Joe Louis in a wrestling arena against Shag Thomas. Joe weighed 245 pounds and looked it, especially in the arms and above his black trunks. He wore a scraggly mustache and the bald spot seems to have grown around his pate.
Thomas had a Buddha-like physique. He wore a turban and a black goatee, and patiently maneuvered Joe into the holds of the trade. Periodically Shag feigned alarm as Joe raised those once terrible fists and would catapult himself through the ropes, cowering on the apron of the ring.
Louis won in a single fall, after cringing from lifelike jabs to his eyes and a few pulled punches to the body. He's got several more bouts booked in Florida and then he'll decide whether to continue.
"I may not like it," he said. Asked if he was doing this to earn some money to ward off Uncle Sam, he nodded . . . and then emphasized the affirmation with: "Yes."
"When they present me with a bill I can pay, I want to do it," said the former heavyweight champion. "Sure, I have to earn some money . . . "
The question of Rocky Marciano's recent threat to retire came up and Joe had read about it. "As far as competition is concerned he could fight for the next 35 years," said the Brown Bomber.
"But a friend of his told me that Rocky has been suffering from headaches and maybe that's what he's thinking of."
Joe himself never suffered from such things, but he said "it could happen easy enough."
While Rocky has not been an overworked fighter as to grade-A engagements, he has trained so vigorously for most of his bouts- and ran up against enough opposition in some of them- to warrant the thought that he has taken more punishment than shows in his unbeaten record.
Louis, of course, isn't going anywhere in wrestling except, perhaps, into some state of solvency if he is lucky. The guys he is meeting are younger, tougher, better trained and "settled" into a pattern of good living from the transition of vaudeville from the theater to the armories and halls of the land.
The former heavyweight king can't go around and fight, anymore, so this is one way to perpetuate his name and make it worth while for his own interests.
They cheered him to the rafters in Tampa the other night maybe because they warmed to his temerity in putting himself in an unhappy spot.
It was good to see him again and he talked baseball and seemed pretty happy. Let him wrestle if he wants to.
Louis Return Home To Win As Wrestler
DETROIT. May 25 (AP) Joe Louis, who fought his way from Detroit
Golden Gloves rings to the worlds heavyweight boxing championship, came
back home as a wrestler last night.
Louis' Heart Is Reported Improved
CHICAGO, April 26, 1957 (AP) Former heavyweight champion Joe Louis today was given a clean bill of health to continue refereeing after undergoing heart tests.
Louis' wrestling and refereeing licenses were suspended last July by the Illinois Athletic Commission when it was found that his heart was damaged. After a series of tests, Louis' physician, Albert L. Spaulding, said today that the former champion’s heart “for all practical purposes is almost normal.”
"He. can continue refereeing." said Spaulding. "There has been quite an improvement in his condition, which was an inflamed heart muscle, and it is satisfactory."
Louis said he has no intention of resuming wrestling but would like to continue refereeing.