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The Greatest Fight of Our Generation: Louis Vs. Schmeling (Anglais) Relié – 1 décembre 2005


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"If anything, the title to Lewis Erenberg's book is an understatement. Louis-Schmeling was not just 'the greatest fight of our generation,' it was the greatest sporting event of the 20th century. And here, in well-researched detail, Erenberg captures the two participants and their importance in what can best be described as 'The War to Come.' On all scorecards, this book can be judged, in boxing parlance, 'a winner.'"--Bert Randolph Sugar, Boxing Hall of Fame Historian

"Erenberg's The Greatest Fight of Our Generation has the keenest sense of how the fight reflected the growing internationalization of sports and the intersection of manhood and politics in American culture at the time."--The Nation --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

Présentation de l'éditeur

Held on June 22, 1938, in Yankee Stadium, the second Louis-Schmeling fight sparked excitement around the globe. For all its length--the fight lasted but two minutes--it remains one of the most memorable events in boxing history and, indeed, one of the most significant sporting events ever. In this superb account, Lewis A. Erenberg offers a vivid portrait of Joe Louis, Max Schmeling, their individual careers, and their two epic fights, shedding light on what these fighters represented to their nations, and why their second bout took on such international importance. Erenberg shows how in the first fight Schmeling shocked everyone with a dramatic twelfth-round knockout of Louis, becoming a German national hero and a (unwilling) symbol of Aryan superiority. In fact, the second fight was seen around the world in symbolic terms--as a match between Nazism and American democracy. Erenberg discusses how Louis' dramatic first-round victory was a devastating blow to Hitler, who turned on Schmeling and, during the war, had the boxer (then serving as a paratrooper) sent on a series of dangerous missions. Louis, meanwhile, went from being a hero of his race--"Our Joe"--to the first black champion embraced by all Americans, black and white, an important step forward in United States race relations. Erenberg also describes how, after the war, the two boxers became symbols of German-American reconciliation. With Schmeling as a Coca Cola executive, and Louis down on his luck, the former foes became friends, and when Louis died, Schmeling helped pay for his funeral. Here then is a stirring and insightful account of one of the great moments in boxing history, a confrontation that provided global theater on an epic scale. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .



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In July 1935, a year before the first bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling, and three years before the battle that defined their careers, sports cartoonist Burris Jenkins, Jr., caricatured the two future combatants in the New York Evening Journal. Lire la première page
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Much, Much More than a Boxing Match 27 novembre 2008
Par Herbert L Calhoun - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is one of those rare books bought for one reason and then one discovers later that there are larger reasons that entirely eclipse the original ones. To my great surprise and delight, it turns out that this book is as much about the international politics of race and ideology as it was about pugilism. Thus this is not just a report on a one-round boxing match heard around the world, whose outcome in any case is well known by most even before reading the book: Louis beat Max Schmeling with such a vicious attack that it broke several ribs and had many observers thinking that Joe Louis Barrow must have been a man possessed by demons. No, it is not a story just about that one-man, two-minute demolition squad, but about the state of the world as seen through the eyes of a skilled biographer of sports history. And about his views of what the fight meant to two competing societies.

The stage for this, the second of the two fights between two "intellectually challenged" protagonists, could not have been more pregnant with meaning or more heavily imbued with dramatic significance. At the time the world community was deep in the throes of an international depression, in which images of male impotence abounded. Boxing loomed large as a surrogate to fill the gap of male lost self-esteem and as a "stand-in" for national virility among men with bruised, diminished and weakened egos. Thus the gladiators in the ring of Madison Square Garden on the night of June 22, 1938, were part of the global pre-fight between German Nazism and American democracy. For the multitudes on both sides of the Atlantic with lost jobs, and lost self-esteem, boxing: male power, mano-y-mano, framed an essential aspect of the national identity.

Nazi Germany and "democratic" America became engulfed in, and swept up by the emotional hysteria of the Max Schmeling-Joe Louis fight. To both nations it was not just a defining moment in history, but also a showcase of the defining qualities of their respective political systems: their ideologies, their ways of life, and the meaning of boxing to their respective societies. In short, the fight took on a distinctive life of it's own. It was a "hyper reality" in which both fighters had a lot to prove. Even as a winner, who was "on the down side of" a career that included having won the world Champion in 1930 while still being "counted out" on his back, Schmeling, as a winner of the first fight, still had as much to prove as Louis did as a loser: Schmeling had to prove that his win over Louis and his earlier Championship belt were not flukes. Louis had to prove that they were.

As far as German domestic politics were concerned the stakes also could not have been higher. At the 1936 Munich Olympics, Jessie Owens, another Black American, had severed the proverbial racist limb Hitler had so boastfully but precariously "walked out on." Owens had single-handedly embarrassed Hitler's claims of Aryan racial superiority by winning four gold medals. Lucky for Hitler, Schmeling, had that very same year, won the first fight against Louis, and had in part restored if not completely redeemed this Munich lost of face. By unexpectedly beating Louis in a 12-round knockout, the Owens insult and Aryan lost of face, had not only been redressed, but had made Schmeling the temporary reigning hero of Nazism.

For the U.S domestic situation, the fight was a great deal more complex than it was for Germany. And my hat goes off to the author for making a heroic effort to finesse the many glaring challenges and contradictions the fight presented to an American nation only slightly less racist than Nazi Germany. Just like as was true for Jews in Germany, racism was the defining quality of a vicious caste system based on race for Blacks in America. It seems more than just a little ironic that Louis, a black male, was thrust onto the international stage to carry the mantle of male virility for a Nation that hated blacks with a passion. It was not unlike asking Frederick Douglass, a runaway slave to speak on behalf of the Fourth of July celebration at Rochester New York's Constitution Hall in 1852. Although Louis was probably the perfect vehicle for doing so, white Americans still remained ambivalence and very nervous about "having to root" for a Black male symbol of American virility and as the hero of their nation at a time that the male ego was so diminished. The specter of Jack Johnson and his wife wives and consorts running around the country like he was King of the world, kept agitating and haunting the collective American mind. Most white Americans, including Jews (who were a fixture in the boxing world as its managers, owners, agents, and trainers), were thus caught like a vise grip between their own white supremacist views, their visceral hatred of Negroes, and the anti-Semitism of Hitler.

The author nevertheless proved his mettle and that he was up to the task of this rather profound challenge and the mental and literary jujitsu needed to carry such a narrative forward without injuring American sensitivities and sensibilities, or indeed doing further harm to the U.S. image of those (and these still) embarrassing times. With timely changes in voice, and in the names given Louis (depending on the context Louis was referred to in no less than 16 different ways, as: "our Joe," the Black people's champion, the Black Champion, a credit to his race, the chocolate champion, an American hero, the Brown Bomber, a champion of democracy, the first African American Superman, African American folk hero, an anti-fascist hero, American Champion, an American icon, a symbol of African American political awakening, or the first African American hero seen as an American standard bearer, to he's no Jack Dempsey or Gene Tunney), Erenberg was largely able to avoid a head-on collision between American racism against Blacks and Hitler's racism against Jews.

Altogether, the politics of race on both sides of the Atlantic made the fight such a complicated affair for the American mind to process, that the fight itself almost became anti-climatic. President Jimmy Carter in recalling this fight, recounts what happened in his hometown of Plains Georgia, where, while two Negroes were invited, as many as fifty showed up on his family's front porch to listen to the fight on radio. Once Louis had Ko'ed Schmeling in one round, the Negroes all quietly and respectfully returned to their homes on the other side of the tracks, whereupon all hell broke loose in a paroxysm of jubilation that did not stop until daylight.

But as the author skillfully notes, as heavy and as palpable as the racial message was, and given that race in America trumped nationhood, the larger backdrop for this fight was international rather than domestic politics. On the global scene, these fighters were nothing if not proxies for their respective political systems, which at that very moment were making preparations for the Second World War. Thus in this larger sense, for one day, the boxing arena became a mere prelude to a multigenerational struggle between America's racist Democracy and Germany's racist Nazism. The question the fight begged for the American racial caste system was: How could "Hitler's racist Nazism" against Jews be wrong and "America's racist democracy against blacks be right?"

Even though Hitler and Nazism have been gone for more than half a century, and America is on the verge of electing its first black President, that question still remains an open and an unanswered one for American society. This author nevertheless did his job well. What a worthy effort. Fifty stars
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A great read, and an insightful approach 19 avril 2006
Par C. Shepherd - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Having been a fight fan since a small boy, I was looking forward to this book for the insight into the 2 most admired heavyweights of their age. But I got so much more.

Erenberg succeeds in bringing to life the problems created by the segregation and dehumanisation of the African American in the 1930's, as well as the already well trodden theme of Aryan supremacy in Nazi Germany. Both these men, from humble beginnings, rose to fame quickly. They both became fierce rivals, and both quickly realised how they were being used as symbols of national pride. They met each other twice, and honours were even, but the most striking part of this book is how the author is able to bring to life how events on the world stage propelled them in such opposite directions, and also how life after the war sent them careering to the opposite end of the scale - Louis victorious yet penniless and dying in poverty, Schmeling the defeated yet living a life of privilege and great wealth. Although they were fierce rivals, they later became good friends, realising that they were in fact fighting for the same ideals, not what their respective governments were telling them.

I recommend this book to anyone who is studying the noble art of pugilism, modern history or indeed civil rights. The research is meticulous, and the material is presented without overdue bias to either side, a considerable feat.
Boxing as metaphor for war and politics 28 novembre 2014
Par Sugafoot - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Others have reviewed this book much better than I ever could have. But I will use this review as an opportunity to add some of what stuck out to me.

pg. 3. On the eve of the American civil war an American boxer traveled to England to fight an English boxer for the world title. Hence boxing has often been a metaphor for political and even wars that were raging outside of the ring. This instance was something of an antecedent to the Schmelling Louis fight.

pg 5. Joe Louis was arguably the greatest prize fighter of all time. Or as the author puts it, 'he stood a top the boxing world.'

pg 5. 'Schmelling was charged with treason by the Nazi's.

pg 10. The USA was partly responsible for the brief prosperity that the Weimer Republic enjoyed from 1924-29.

pg. 10 Germans learned boxing when some Germans who were POW's brought it home after being taught the sport by their British guards during WWI. ( During WWII some German POW's kept in the USA learned baseball from their American guards the Germans were allowed 4 strikes as opposed to 3 as an attempt to handicap the game and keep it fair).

pg 14. Schmelling was more than just a brawler he believed that in a fight the advantage could often be won by the more intelligent boxer.

pg 20. The Schmelling faction may have stolen his title for him.

pg 23. Sadly, Joe Louis's father died in an insane asylum.

pg. 46 Louis handlers refused to hire Jack Johnson as a trainer.

pg.55 Schmelling once beat an opponent so badly he never boxed again.

pg. 63 Joe Louis saved boxing financially.

pg. 88 Scmelling after careful study of Joe Louis's style found weak spots, chinks in the armor, he felt he could exploit.

pg. 98 Schmelling once used his influence behind the scenes to save the life of a Jewish women although publicly he did little to challenge the regime or Hitler.

pg. 104 During the Olympics in Germany Hitler watched them every day from his private booth.

pgs 109 & 115. Owney Madden a Mob boss in NYC and heavy weight champion Braddock and his backers attempt and are ultimately successful at extorting from Joe Louis 10% of all his future earning for the next 10 years in return for a shot at the title against Braddock.

pg. 115 Schmelling before WWII while other Nazi athletes are being forced to wear SA pins is allowed not to wear any such pins so as not to sully his reputation in the ring of international sport. Although Schmelling before the war does give thought to joining the SS as a way to win favor with a mercurial regime.

pg. 116 Schmelling appeals to Hitler to lure Braddock and the title to Germany.

pgs. 123-5 Although Braddock is feisty he is decimated in the ring by Joe Louis.

pgs. 123-3 Many fighters are able to use their speed to stay away from Joe Loius in the ring. The Irish-American cruiser weight Billy Conn who almost beat Joe Louis comes to mind. ( One wonders what a young Ali versus a young Louis would have been?)

pg. 168 Schmelling once saved the life of two Jewish boys...years later now an American living in Las Vegas the now man disclosed the episode publicly.

pgs. 177-82. One can see that during the propaganda war during WWII Schmelling became one of the Nazi's the American GI's loved to hate.

pg. 180 Louis burned out on boxing.

pg. 192 Joe Louis entertained 2 million troops

pg. 190 Joe Louis once cared for a shot down Air- Corpman until medics arrive!

pg. 194 Louis served with future dodger great and baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson at Ft. Riley Kansas.

pgs. 200-1 Describes the second Louis Conn fight which took place after WWII.

pg. 209 In excellent prose the author describes how 'In fighting the Nazi threat, Louis had demonstrated the full claim of blacks to their American inheritance.'

pgs. 213-4 The author describes how Schmelling aided those who tried to kill Hitler!

pg. 218 The author describes something that is kinda the antecedent to 'Jihad versus McWorld.'

pg. 222 Describe Joe Louis health problems and death.

pg. 227 Schmelling later in life, apparently, always a descent man remarks of his loss to Joe Louis 'I am almost happy I lost that fight.'
1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Greatest? 9 juin 2007
Par Mike Brecher - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Well researched and an interesting read, though it is a badly edited book -- typos abound. One question, though: Why was the fight in which Louis beat Schmeling "the greatest...of our generation," despite having gone to form and pretty predictably, while their fight two years earlier, in which Schmeling produced one of the biggest upsets in sports history with an intelligence rare for boxing, was apparently less great?

A key moment for American society, yes. Maybe also the most eagerly anticipated fight. But the GREATEST?
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