(1914-1981) One of the world’s best-known athletes, Louis’s enduring popularity was partly due to his sheer dominance: Of his 25 successful title defenses, nearly all came by knockout. But in winning, Louis also showed himself to be a gracious, even generous victor. He also drew praise for his support of the country’s war effort, as he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942 and donated prize money to military relief funds.
After reigning as heavyweight champion for 11 years and eight months, a record, Louis retired on March 1, 1949.
We honor you, Joe Louis.