Known as the “Brown Bomber,” Joe Louis burst onto the boxing scene in 1935 to become one of America’s first black sports stars. He appeared unbeatable until 1936. That’s when he fought Max Schmeling, a German fighter who was the personal favorite of Adolph Hitler.
Schmeling defeated Louis and Hitler branded him an Aryan hero.
The two fought again in 1938 in front of 70,000 people at Yankee Stadium. Promoters billed it as the battle between America and the Nazis. The match was filled with racial and political implications.
This time, Joe Louis won by scoring a brutal knockout.
The tension between the United States and Germany would get worse over the next few years (years that included World War 2 and the Holocaust). But there was also tension here at home …
On the one hand, Americans viewed Joe Louis as a boxing hero. On the other hand, many of these same Americans wouldn’t allowed him to stay at their hotel or eat in their restaurant.
Since beginning of time, we have a tendency to divide people into two camps: those like us and those not like us.
Although the promoters of their 1938 bout had portrayed Louis and Schmeling as enemies, it wasn’t true. The two fighters had reconnected after WW2 and frequently spoke to one another on the phone.
Both men had struggled with being national icons — Louis against racism and Schmeling against Nazism. Because of their common struggles, they formed an enduring friendship that lasted the rest of their lives.
When Louis fell on hard times, Schmeling dipped into his own pocket to help his old adversary pay his debts. He even helped pay for Louis’ funeral in 1981.
Playwright Eugene O’Neill once said, “Man is broken; he lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue.”
We all are broken – men and women, black and white, Republican and Democrat.
No one has escaped the damage of living in a fallen world.
The only way to mend a broken heart or a broken relationship is with the grace of God.
Experience and Background
- 25+ years of senior leadership experience
- masters in management and leadership
- presenter at the WFX National Conference
- former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
- helped start 2 for-profit tech companies
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