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Max Schmeling: the boxer, the hero

Louis

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Maximilian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schemeling (who born at Klien-Luckow, Uckermark, Brandenburg, Germany, on Sept. 28, 1905) was a German boxer & heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932.

Schmeling’s most notable rivalry was with Joe Louis, who was a rising 22-year-old American contender when Schmeling knocked him out in the 12th round of a non-title bout on 1936. It set the stage for a rematch two years later at Yankee Stadium, where Louis gained revenge with a first-round knockout. To the world, Schmeling’s defeat foretold of things to come for Nazi Germany -say Louis.-

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The battles between Louis and Schmeling came to symbolize for some the coming struggle between Hitler’s Third Reich and the Allies in WW2. Several Jewish groups tried to get the rematch canceled, and Louis said he was ”backing up America against Germany.»

Although Hitler had praised Schmeling after the first fight, Schmeling was not an admirer of the German leader and refused to join the Nazi party.

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Adolf Hitler pictured with Max Schmeling and his wife Anny Ondra at the Reich Chancellory in Berlin after Schmeling's victory against Joe Louis in NY, 1936.

During the WW2 he served with the German paratroopers and was severely wounded in the airborne assault of Crete.

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In the post-war his last fight was a defeat on Oct. 31, 1948, 24 years after his professional debut. His professional record was 56 wins, 10 losses and four draws, with 39 knockouts. He was the last German heavyweight champion.

After retiring from the ring, Schmeling purchased a Coca- Cola bottling and distribution franchise in Hamburg in 1948, the first in Germany after WW2.

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Schmeling developed a friendship with Joe Louis after their boxing careers ended and provided financial assistance to his former foe in the 1950s. He also paid for part of the funeral arrangements when Louis died in 1981 and was one of the pallbearers.

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Also received an award from the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation for risking his life to hide two Jewish brothers during Kristallnacht on Nov. 9, 1938, when Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were attacked and destroyed by Nazis.

The boys, Henri and Werner Lewin, made their way to the USA, where Henri became a hotel owner. Schmeling’s role in hiding the boys wasn’t known until Henri Lewin revealed it at a dinner honoring the former champion in 1989.

He risked his life for us; our lives weren’t worth a penny,» Lewin said in a 2002 interview with the Jewish Bulletin of Northern California. ”I said, `If this is a Nazi, he’s a good Nazi, but I want you to know one thing: I wouldn’t be sitting here today if it wasn’t for this Nazi

He lived his remaining years as a wealthy man and avid boxing fan, dying on 2 Feb 2005, at the age of 99.​
 
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