Joe Louis

Joe Louis: Heavyweight Champion, World War & Net Worth

Joe Louis was a legendary American professional boxer who was the second black heavyweight champion of the world.

Hence, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest, dominating, and influential boxers of all time.

He won the NBA, NYSAC, and the Ring heavyweight title in 1937, which he successfully defended with 25 consecutive victories.

As a result, he had the longest single reign as champion of any boxer in history. Nonetheless, he lost the title in 1950, upon which he declared retirement.

Along with his manager
Heavyweight champion Joe Louis with his manager, John Roxborough.

However, he returned a year later to fight nine matches, where he lost the final match. Following his third career loss, he again declared his final retirement in 1951.

Besides that, he was the first descent of African-American to achieve the status of a nationwide hero in America for his contribution to world war two.

Quick Facts

Full Name Joseph Louis Barrow
Birth Date May 13, 1914
Deceased Date April 12, 1981
Birth Place LaFayette, Alabama, USA
Nick Name Brown Bomber
Religion Christian
Nationality American
Ethnicity African American
Education Bronson Trade School
Zodiac Sign Taurus
Father’s Name Munroe Barrow
Mother’s Name Lillie Barrow
Siblings Seven
Age 66 years old (at the time of death)
Height 6 feet 1 inch
Weight 212 lbs
Hair Color Black
Eye Color Black
Build Athletic
Sports Boxing
Total Fight 69
Profession Boxer
Active Years 1934 to 1949
Marital Status Married
Wife Martha Jefferson
Kids Three
Net Worth $4.6 Million
Social Media None
Merch How to Box, Joe Louis: The Rise and Fal of Brown Bomber, Beyond Glory: Max Schmeling vs. Joe Louis
Last Update April, 2024

Joe Louis: Early Life, Family, and Education

Joe Louis was born in Chambers Country, Alabama, America. His parents are Munroe Barrow and Lillie Barrow, who were former slaves.

Further, he was the seventh out of eight siblings in his family. At a very early age, his biological father had left his family.

Considering that he had died, Joe’s mother married a local construction contractor, Pat Brooks, in 1920.

Later, it was discovered that Munore lived until 1938, unaware of his son’s achievement.

Early Age
Joe Louis, at 21 years old, is making his professional debut.

Furthermore, as a kid, the boxer suffered from a speech disorder. Hence, he spoke very litter and spoke with a stutter. However, he was a very disciplined kid who never got into trouble.

Likewise, growing up, the Louis family had to suffer from hardship. In 1926, a white supremacist gang forced Louis’s entire neighborhood to move to urban areas.

As a result, the family migrated to Detroit, where he went to a local youth recreation center with his friend to learn boxing.

Nonetheless, his mother disapproved of his decision and wanted him to learn the violin. Therefore, he sneaked the boxing gloves inside the violin case to trick his mother.

Besides that, the heavyweight boxer attended Bronson Vocational School to learn cabinet-making.

The boxer had written many books like Joe Louis, My Life, My Life Story, etc.

Joe Louis: Age, Height, and Weight

The legendary boxer was 66 years old when he passed away on April 12, 1981, due to cardiac arrest. During his boxing career, he was considered one of the fittest athletes.

He never skipped training and constantly wanted to improve his skills. As a result, he was one of the most skilled, hardworking, and discipline boxers of his generation.

Furthermore, he stood at 6 feet 2-inch and weighed 212 lbs, i.e., 96kg, during his boxing career.

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Joe Louis: Boxing Career

Amateur Carrer

Louis made his amateur boxing debut in 1932 at the age of 17. Further, while registering, he omitted his last name to hide his boxing secret from his mother.

He faced Jhonny Miler in his debut, which ended in a loss. Nonetheless, he complied by winning the club championship of his Brewster Street recreation center.

Furthermore, he won the 1933 Detroit-area Golden Gloves Novice Division championship. However, he lost in the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions.

The young boxer won the Golden Gloves’ Open Division in the light heavyweight classification.

Likewise, he also won the 1934 Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions.

Following this victory, he also won the 1934 light heavyweight United States Amateur Champion National AAU tournament.

Besides that, he had 50 wins and 4 losses with 43 knockouts at the end of his amateur career.

Professional Carrer

Debut, Winning Streak, and World Champion

The brown bomber made his official debut as a 21-year-old boxer in 1934. Further, he faced an experienced Norwegian boxer Jack Kracken at the Bacon Casino.

The young boxer cruised to victory by knocking out Kracken in just a few seconds of the opening round. Hence, Louis earned $59 for defeating Kracken in his debut.

Likewise, he fought and won all 12 professional fights that year, 10 by knockout.

Furthermore, he adds 12 more victories to maintain the winning streak at 24 consecutive wins. However, his first loss came through a Knockout by Max Schmeling.

Nonetheless, after the loss, he again returned to the winning column. Hence, after winning 8 consecutive games, he landed a title opportunity by agreeing to face James J. Braddock.

The match ended drastically, as Louis won the match in the eight-round via knockout. As a result, he won the NBA, NYSAC, and The Ring heavyweight titles.

Thus, following his victory, he became just the second black heavyweight champion in the world.

Title Retention, Title Loss, and Retirement

Within two months of winning the title, he was set to defend it against Tommy Farr.

Further, they fought through all the 15 rounds upon which a unanimous decision declared Louis, the winner.

Similarly, after retaining the title three times, he got a rematch against Max Schmeling, who handed Louis his first career loss.

Joe faceoff against Max Schmeling
The American Boxer Joe Louis defends his title against Max Schmeling.

Hence, he didn’t hold back and knocked Schmeling out in the first round in 2:04. Likewise, the heavyweight boxer retained his title 25 consecutive times.

As a result, he was the longest single reigning champion in boxing history.

However, his retaining streak ended after a unanimous decision favoring his opponent Ezzard Charles in 1949.

After this, he decided to retire from boxing to live a normal life. Nonetheless, his retirement decision changed as he returned to the ring a year later.

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Comeback and Final Retirement

Following his loss, it became visible that Louis was no longer the fighter he once was.

Nevertheless, after a temporary retirement, he came back to face Cesar Brion.

Further, he won the match and quickly went on a seven-match winning streak. Likewise, he faced Rocky Marciano, which was Louis’ last match.

Moreover, the match was held at Madison Square Garden in 1951. The match ended with Marciano knocking Louis in the eight-round.

Following his loss, he retired for good from competitive boxing.

Joe Louis: World War II

The brown bomber shared a deep sense of love for his country. As a result, during the second world war, he urged himself to serve his country.

Hence, he started donating his earnings made from title matches to the US Navy Relief Society from 1941 to 1942.

Further, during those times, the Navy Society didn’t treat African Americans with respect.  Thus, following Louis’s decision, the African American community felt betrayed.

However, he was unaltered by the criticism and continued his service. Nonetheless, the controversy ended after Louis was enlisted in the US Army.

Louis Serving his country
Joe Louis during his time in the US Army.

Furthermore, he was never destined to battle. His battle remained inside the ring by defending his title. Therefore, he was given the role of goodwill ambassador.

Along with many black boxers, he toured around the United States and Europe to entertain and encourage black troops through meetups and boxing exhibitions held by the US Army.

Besides that, Louis was discharged from his duties as a staff sergeant in 1945. All in all, his time in the army showed a sense of hope for African Americans to rise and fight for equality.

Joe Louis Arena

Joe Louis Arena was a replacement for Olympia Stadium built in Downtown Detroit in 1979. With an arena capacity of 20,266, it was alongside the banks of the Detroit River.

One could book tickets for the Joe Louis Arena through the website named My Box Office Tickets.

The arena has been an amazing host to a number of successful events and concerts. Popular music artists and bands such as Bon Jovi and AC/DC have held their concerts in the Joe Louis Arena.

However, in the summer of 2017, the arena was initially closed down which later turned out to be completely demolished. 

The last concert held in this very arena was by Jeezy and Migos in September of  2017 before the building was demolished. 

The now-demolished site is under the ownership of Sterling Group which has envisioned turning the 5-acre demolished land into an enormous tower. 

Joe Louis: Marriage and Kids

The Brown Bomber has been married four times to three different women. He married his first wife, Marva Trotter, in 1935 at just 21 years old.

Further, the couple was rumored to be dating a year before the marriage. In the early stage of their marriage, the couple was delighted and close to each other.

During that period, they also had their first child name Jacqueline Barrow in 1943. Following their daughter’s birth, things started going haywire between the couple.

As a result, after two years, they got divorced. However, the couple only seemed to need some space in their relationship as they remarried a year later.

Barrow's third wife
Joe, along with his third wife, Martha Jefferson.

Thus, they had their second child Joseph Louis Barrow Jr., a year later in 1947.

Much like the last time, they again started having problems that led to their second divorce in February 1949. Five years later, Louis went on to marry Rose Morgan on Christmas Day.

Furthermore, Morgan was successful Harlem businesswoman who bumped into the boxer in one of his fights. Nonetheless, within three years, their marriage got annulled.

Hence, after three failed marriages, he finally married his third wife, Martha Jefferson, in 1959, which lasted until his death. She was a layer from Los Angeles.

Moreover, the couple shared four beautiful children: Joseph Louis Barrow Jr, John Louis Barrow, Joyce Louis Barrow, and Janet Louis Barrow.

Joe Louis: Net Worth and Salary

The iconic 20th-century boxer had built enormous wealth throughout his boxing career.

 Louis’s estimated net worth WAS $4.6 million.

However, he only received about $800 thousand from his net worth.

Nonetheless, he was very generous in spending his money to uplift his family’s financial condition.

Furthermore, after his retirement, he invested in numerous business ventures. Some of them were restaurants, insurance companies, horse farms, milk companies, and many more.

Despite having a successful boxing career, he never could be successful outside the ring. As a result, all of his businesses eventually failed.

Likewise, by the end of the 1950’s he owed over $1 million in tax to the Internal Revenue Service.

Nevertheless, he agreed with the IRS to limit their collections on his current income. Hence, this helped him to live a comfortable life.

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Joe Louis: Trivia

Joe Louis, besides boxing, Joe Louis became the first Black Golfer to play a PGA-sponsored tournament. Louis began playing golf in 1935.

The Fist is a monument located in Detroit’s Hart Plaza which is dedicated to the legendary boxer Joe Louis.

Louis has been an inspiration to many for decades which gives importance to every word he has spoken. A few of his most popular quotes are;

“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die”

“Every man’s got to figure to get beat sometime”

“i don’t like money, actually, but it quites my nerves”

Joe Louis: Social Media Presence

It is quite obvious that the heavyweight fighter was born in a technically challenged era. Hence, he is not present on any social media platforms that we use today.

Nevertheless, he has many fan accounts on Instagram that still keep his memory and accomplishments alive.


Did Louis ever fight Muhammad Ali?

No, Louis and Muhammad Ali never fought in a match because Ali started his professional career nine years after Louis had retired.

Nonetheless, Louis praised Ali’s fighting ability and met him on numerous occasions.

Was Louis the first black boxer?

No, the brown bomber is not the first black boxer. However, he was the second black heavyweight champion of the world after John Arthur Johnson.

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