Joe Lewis was the first black to every become boxer.
FACTS ABOUT JOE LEWIS WHEN HE WAS A KID?
Louis's family life was shaped by financial struggle. The Louis kids slept three to a bed and Louis' father was committed to a state hospital when he was just two years old.
Louis had little schooling and as a teen took on odd jobs in order to help out his mother and siblings. The family eventually relocated to Detroit where Louis found work as a laborer at the River Rouge plant of the Ford Motor Company.
HOW DID BOXER START FOR JOE?
Joe was shy, quiet, and uninterested in school, and so was often mistaken for being dumb. A friend took him to Brewster's East Side Gymnasium and introduced him to boxing. He fell in love with the sport. He shortened his name to Joe Louis so that his mother wouldn't find out, but she caught on eventually. "At first [Momma] looked unhappy," Louis recalled. "But she said that if any of us kids wanted to do something bad enough, she'd try to see that we got a chance at it. 'No matter what you do,' she said, 'remember you're from a Christian family, and always act that way." It was in the early days of the Depression, and his stepfather and mother accepted the $7 checks Louis brought home.
HOW MUCH HE MADE?
Louis kayoed Jack Kracken in his first professional fight on July 4, 1934. Through the end of 1935, he earned $371,645 in professional purses --about 300 times the average annual salary
A FAMILY OF A SLAVE
The son of an Alabama sharecropper, great grandson of a slave, great great grandson of a white slave owner became the first African-American to achieve lasting fame and popularity in the 20th century.
SOME OF JOE LOUIS FIGHTS
Louis was heavyweight champion of the world in an era when the heavyweight champion was, in the minds of many, the greatest man in the world. Jack Johnson, the first African-American heavyweight champ, wasn't popular with whites. Louis, on the other hand, converted all into his corner.