Joe Louis

Born May 14, 1914

Joseph Louis Barrow, better known as Joe Louis, was an American professional boxer and the World Heavyweight Champion from 1937 to 1949. He is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis helped elevate boxing from a nadir in popularity in the post-Jack Dempsey era by establishing a reputation as an honest, hardworking fighter at a time when the sport was dominated by gambling interests.… Read More

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1914 Birth Born on May 13, 1914.
1916 2 Years Old Louis spent twelve years growing up in rural Alabama, where little is known of his childhood. He suffered from a speech impediment and spoke very little until about the age of six. Munroe Barrow was committed to a mental institution in 1916 and, as a result, Joe knew very little of his biological father.
1920 6 Years Old Around 1920, Louis's mother married Pat Brooks, a local construction contractor, having received word that Munroe Barrow had died while institutionalized (in reality, Munroe Barrow lived until 1938, unaware of his son's fame).


1926 12 Years Old In 1926, shaken by a gang of white men in the Ku Klux Klan, Louis's family moved to Detroit, Michigan, forming part of the post-World War I Great Migration. … Read More
1932 18 Years Old Louis made his debut in early 1932 at age 17. … Read More
1933 19 Years Old In 1933, Louis won the Detroit-area Golden Gloves Novice Division championship against Joe Biskey for the light heavyweight classification. … Read More


In April 1934, he followed up his Chicago performance by winning the United States Amateur Champion National AAU tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. … Read More
Trotter later became Louis's first wife in 1935. … Read More
1936 22 Years Old 1 More Event
Conversely, Schmeling prepared intently for the bout. Schmeling had thoroughly studied Louis's style and believed he had found a weakness. By exploiting Louis's habit of dropping his left hand low after a jab, Schmeling handed Louis his first professional loss by knocking him out in Round 12 at Yankee Stadium on June 19, 1936. … Read More
…  He held the world heavyweight championship from 1937 to 1949, and is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. … Read More
1938 24 Years Old 1 More Event
When Schmeling arrived in New York City in June 1938 for the rematch, he was accompanied by a Nazi party publicist who issued statements that a black man could not defeat Schmeling and that when Schmeling won, his prize money would be used to build tanks in Germany. … Read More
1939 - 1940 2 More Events
The contest created an instant rivalry that Louis's career had lacked since the Schmeling era and a rematch with Conn was planned for late 1942. … Read More


1945 31 Years Old 1 More Event
…  They divorced in March 1945 only to remarry a year later, but were again divorced in February 1949. … Read More
1946 - 1949 4 More Events
1950 36 Years Old 1 More Event
After returning from retirement, Louis failed to regain the championship in 1950, and his career ended after he was knocked out by Rocky Marciano in 1951. … Read More
1951 37 Years Old 1 More Event
After facing several club-level opponents, the International Boxing Club guaranteed Louis $300,000 to face undefeated heavyweight contender Rocky Marciano on October 26, 1951. … Read More


1955 41 Years Old On Christmas Day 1955, Louis married Rose Morgan, a successful Harlem businesswoman; their marriage was annulled in 1958.
1956 42 Years Old He made his professional wrestling debut on March 16, 1956 in Washington, D.C., defeating Cowboy Rocky Lee. … Read More
1959 45 Years Old Louis's final marriage – to Martha Jefferson, a lawyer from Los Angeles, on St. Patrick's Day 1959 – lasted until his death. … Read More


1969 55 Years Old Drugs took a toll on Louis in his later years. In 1969, he was hospitalized after collapsing on a New York City street. … Read More
1970 56 Years Old In 1970, he spent five months at the Colorado Psychiatric Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Denver, hospitalized by his wife, Martha, and his son, Joe Louis Barrow Jr., for paranoia.
1971 57 Years Old In a 1971 book, Brown Bomber, by Barney Nagler, Louis disclosed the truth about these incidents, stating that his collapse in 1969 had been caused by cocaine, and that his subsequent hospitalization had been prompted by his fear of a plot to destroy him. … Read More


1977 63 Years Old He had surgery to correct an aortic aneurysm in 1977 and thereafter used an POV/scooter for a mobility aid.
1981 67 Years Old 1 More Event
Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for burial at Arlington National Cemetery and Louis was buried there with full military honors on April 21, 1981. … Read More
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