A cardiac arrest took away the legendary Joe Louis 34 years ago, at the age of 66.
Louis was born in Alabama, United States, on May 13, 1914; he was the seventh child and orphan since he was 4. At age 10 he moved with his new family to Detroit, where he worked as Iceman and apprentice cabinetmaker.
On influences of a friend he began to go to a boxing gym, and discovered that he had conditions to practice sport. At age 20 he debuted in professional from the hand of the trainer Jack Blackburn, defeating his first opponent Jack Kracken by KO in Chicago.
To the surprise of many, Louis defeated the favorites of that time, and fame began to smile. In 1935 became 15 fight, he won them all, 12 of them by KO.
On June 19, 1936 he lost with the German Max Schmeling in New York. A KO in the twelfth round caused him his first loss. Louis asked the rematch but before he faced James J. Braddock. On June 24, 1937 he won the world title by KO 8.
In 1938 was the long-awaited rematch with Schmeling, who ended up with a couple of broken ribs and losing against Louis. Over time they became good friends.
Louis enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, and visited the allies camps making boxing exhibitions. After the war, he made two defenses against Jersey Joe Walcott, he wanted to hang up his gloves as champion, but in 1950 he had to return to boxing to pay a debt with Treasury. On September 27 of that year Ezzard Charles became his executioner, to beat him by a unanimous decision after 15 rounds at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx.
Eight bouts later, on October 26, 1951 Louis made his last fight against the rising Rocky Marciano, who defeated him in eight rounds. He ended his career with a record of 68-3, 54 KO.
Louis died on April 12, 1981 in Las Vegas, Nevada.