"The Unwritten History": Alexander Gumby's African America

Gumby's Events > Louis-Schmeling Fight


Scrapbook 58:
"Joe Louis, pt. 4,"
p. [50]

While creating a total of nine scrapbooks devoted to the boxer Joe Louis's life and career, Gumby missed the coverage of few if any of "the Brown Bomber"'s bouts. Whether or not Gumby was able to attend any of Louis's matches in person is unknown, yet he was at least occasionally able to acquire ephemera from some of the more famous bouts. This is the case with the program that appears here and memorializes a fight whose legendary status made this a prized memento regardless of whether Gumby acquired it at the event or afterward: Louis's 1938 rematch with the German Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium.

The 1938 Louis-Schmeling bout was known both for its stunning conclusion in the ring and the social and cultural context that surrounded it. In their first meeting in 1936, world champion Schmeling handed Louis his first defeat in 28 matches. As a white German fighter who courted favor with Hitler's government, Schmeling's victory over the African-American Louis became a powerful symbol for Nazi racial propagandists. This increased the stakes when the pair met again two years later, with Louis now the world champion and the threat of European or even US war with Germany looming ever larger. Louis's victory--achieved in an astoundingly short two minutes and four seconds--became an important symbolic statement of both American and African diasporic defiance of the Nazi regime.


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