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Max Schmeling

1930-32

After the retirement of former champion Gene Tunney two years earlier, Schmeling won the vacant heavyweight title from Jack Sharkey in 1930 by disqualification (due to a low blow from Sharkey). But Schmeling, who lost the title in a rematch to Sharkey by split decision in 1932, will be forever remembered for two fights with Joe Louis that became worldwide cultural events.

The German hero Schmeling won the first meeting with Louis in 1936, by 12th-round knockout in a nontitle bout. With Louis having won the heavyweight championship the next year, their 1938 rematch was contested amid heavy racial and political undertones a year before the start of World War II, ending in a first-round knockout by Louis.