Given his association with Joe Jeannette, one of the greatest heavyweights of his time who never got a shot at the title, it’s only fitting that Braddock lost the championship to Joe Louis, one of the greatest boxers of all time, and only second. African American heavyweight champion.
Braddock’s first and only title defense came two years after he defeated Baer; he and Louis met on June 22, 1937 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox. According to Schaap’s biography, there was almost no fight (via New York Post) because the Illinois Athletic Commission objected to it on racial grounds; The two men had to appeal to the court to force the commission into action and allow the fight to continue. After knocking down Braddock in the first round, Louis pulled himself together and delivered a brutal knockout in the eighth round. For the first time in nearly three decades, a black man has won the sport’s greatest title.
If that’s all Louis has ever achieved, it would be enough to secure a place in the history books. But brown b*mber held that title for 12 years and more than two dozen title defenses, more than any other fighter in history. Because of Louis — and, in a sense, because of Braddock — there will never be another era where black fighters are excluded from championship consideration. “[Braddock] broke the color barrier,” said notorious promoter Don King, who worked as a consultant on Howard’s film. “That’s what gave us the Brown Bomber.”
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