Boxing History: June 19, 1936 Max Schmeling KO 12 Joe Louis, NYC.
Huge upset. Louis suffers his first defeat against 27-victories, 23 by knockout.
Schmeling was clearly the betting underdog, considered a name opponent for Louis to roll over on his route to the title. Nevertheless he was number two contender for the title behind Louis. Prior to the match, Schmeling carefully studied films of Louis’s prior fights, dissecting apparent flaws in the Detroit fighter’s technique. Among the weaknesses he noticed was the fact that Louis lowered his left hand after throwing a left jab. In the ring, Schmeling exploited this subtle flaw to his own advantage, countering nearly every Louis jab with his best punch, the right cross. The fight proved to be a competitive, hard-hitting affair for the first three rounds, but, in the fourth, a counter right from the German dropped Louis for the first time in his career. Though Louis rose, he was badly dazed for the remainder of the fight and Schmeling subsequently delivered the finest performance of his career. For a further eight rounds he battered Louis, often standing toe-to-toe with the vaunted puncher and landing that same right hand to the jaw repeatedly. In the twelfth he sent the American tumbling to the floor once more, and this time Louis could not recover. He was counted out on the floor and Schmeling had scored the most talked-about sports upset of the year.
Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried “Max” Schmeling (September 28, 1905 – February 2, 2005) was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in 1936 and 1938 were worldwide social events because of their national associations.
During World War II, Schmeling served with the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) as an elite paratrooper (Fallschirmjäger). After the war, Schmeling mounted a comeback, but retired permanently in 1948.
After retiring from boxing, Schmeling worked for The Coca-Cola Company. Schmeling became friends with Louis, and their friendship lasted until the latter’s death in 1981. Schmeling died in 2005 aged 99, a sporting icon in his native Germany. Long after WWII, some evidence arose that Schmeling had risked his own life to save the lives of two Jewish children in 1938.
In 2003, Schmeling was ranked 55 on The Ring magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.
Max Schmeling traveled all the way to New York from Germany to take on the undefeated Louis — a journey that has been credited for helping to make the sport an international spectacle. In claiming he had uncovered a flaw in Louis’ style (the American frequently dropped his guard after punching) Schmeling went on to knock out Louis in the 12th round.