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Joe Louis in World War II

Joe Louis (1914-1981), an African-American boxer also known as "The Brown Bomber," defeated German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938, defending his world Heavyweight title and, for many black and white Americans, earning a major victory for the United States in a clash of civilizations. During the war, Louis joined the army where he served in an all-black Jim Crow regiment.

In June 1938, German boxer Max Schmeling traveled to New York to face his rival, African-American boxer Joe Louis. In their pre-fight coverage, American reporters cast Schmeling as a Nazi villain (despite the fact that Schmeling had never officially pledged his support for the Nazi regime). Louis knocked Schmeling out before a crowd of 70,000, signaling for many Americans the first great blow to the Hitler regime.

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