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Max Schmeling

Upsets Brown Bomber In New York

In what was undoubtedly the high point of his boxing career, Schmeling on June 19, 1936, faced off against America's unbeaten heavyweight, Joe Louis, known affectionately as the Brown Bomber. Widely thought to be washed up, Schmeling was an 8-1 underdog. Having scouted his opponent in Louis's fight against Paolini Uzcudun on December 13, 1935, Schmeling later observed: "I noticed something—a flaw in Louis's defense." In the 12th round of the fight, Schmeling found the opening he was looking for and pounded Louis with a flurry of right-hand punches, knocking him out. Two years later, in one of the briefest fights of all time, Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round of their Yankee Stadium rematch. Despite their enmity in the boxing ring, Schmeling and Louis were to become close friends. When Louis fell on hard times later in life, struggling with tax problems and drug dependency, Schmeling extended a helping hand. After Louis died in 1981, Schmeling helped to underwrite the cost of the funeral for his one-time opponent.

One of the most revealing incidents in Schmeling's life—and one about which he modestly prefers not to talk—did not come to light until more than fifty years after the event. In November 1938, during the Nazi-engineered Kristallnacht terrorism of Germany's Jews, Jewish haberdasher David Lewin, a longtime friend of Schmeling, became worried for the safety of his two teenaged sons—Henri and Werner. Lewin told the boys to go to Schmeling's suite in Berlin's Excelsior Hotel and ask him to take them in.

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Famous Sports StarsBoxingMax Schmeling Biography - Born In German Village Of Uckermark, Faces Off Against U.s. Boxers, Chronology - SELECTED WRITINGS BY SCHMELING: