Where are they Now? German Boxer Max Schmeling

About the famous German boxer Max Schmeling, biography and history of the famous figure.

9-DAY WONDERS--ON THE 10TH DAY

Headline--1936: MAX SCHMELING

At the Peak: Even after all these years, it's a name that brings back memories for sports fans of the 1930s. Memories of two boxing matches with bizarre political and racial overtones.

When he was in his prime, German boxer Max Schmeling was hailed by Adolf Hitler as a perfect specimen of the Master Race, particularly after he won the world heavyweight crown in a bout with Jack Sharkey in 1930. Two years later he lost the title to Sharkey, and by 1935 he was considered washed up.

Thus, when he climbed into the ring to face Joe Louis in June of 1936, none of the experts gave the 31-year-old Schmeling a chance. But the beetle-browed veteran went after his younger and heavier opponent with great determination, knocking Louis out in the 12th round for one of the biggest upsets in ring history.

By the time they met for the return match two years later, the world was moving toward war and the press was billing the fight as a clash between the symbols of Nazism and democracy. As it turned out, the fight was no contest. In perhaps the most awesome display of power in his career, the Brown Bomber tore into Schmeling with a devastating series of blows that knocked the German senseless 2:04 min. into the first round.

And Today: After serving as a German paratrooper in W.W. II (he was wounded in the Battle of Crete), losing his first fortune, and retiring from the ring in 1948, the 76-year-old Schmeling lives comfortably on a farm near Hamburg, collects handsome profits from his two Coca-Cola bottling plants, and is still West Germany's most popular sports celebrity.

Any hard feelings toward Louis?

None at all. Schmeling maintains that they've always been friends and that there were never any ideological overtones to their fights. They were just sports contests between two determined men.

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