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Beyond BlackfaceAfrican Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930$
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W. Fitzhugh Brundage

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834626

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878026_brundage

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More than a Prizefight

More than a Prizefight

Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, and the Transnational Politics of Boxing

(p.315) More than a Prizefight
Beyond Blackface

Lewis A. Erenberg

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the clash between ex-champion and German national Max Schmeling and sensational American titleholder Joe Louis. This much-anticipated bout between Louis, only the second black heavyweight champion, and Schmeling, Germany's most successful boxer and the only man to beat Louis, created extraordinary excitement across the world. This was no ordinary prizefight. “The state of the . . . nation or the world can invest a sporting event with dramatic intensity such as is reached in few theatres,” historian C. L. R. James noted. “When the democrat Joe Louis fought the Nazi Schmeling the bout became a focus of approaching world conflict.” While Germans hoped that “Unser Max” would vindicate their nation in the eyes of the world, African Americans entrusted “Our Joe” to knock out this representative of white supremacy.

Keywords:   Max Schmeling, Joe Louis, black heavyweight champion, prizefight, democrat, Nazi

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