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Joe Louis

1937-48

Considered by many to rate among the handful of greatest heavyweights ever, Louis was one of the first preeminently beloved African-American heroes in the United States. After taking the heavyweight title from James J. Braddock in 1937, Louis went on to defend the belt 25 times, a record that still stands.

In 1938, Louis defeated Max Schmeling by first-round knockout in what Ring Magazine called "The Fight of the Decade." Louis announced his retirement in June 1948 after his second victory over Jersey Joe Walcott, but he came back 15 months later. Past his prime and fading fast, Louis suffered a TKO loss to Rocky Marciano in 1951 to finish 66-3-1 (with 52 KOs).