Joe Louis, A Hero To Many

“He inspired so many people, everybody, the entire boxing world. You know, in the city of Detroit, in the Golden Gloves tournament in one year they had 5,000 entries. Now if they get 150 they are tickled. But he inspired everybody. All the men and these boys, wanted to box.”

– Ken Offet

“I was in Tennessee, in the country, and we used to listen to the radio….everybody was crazy about him. Everybody talked about him. That’s all they knowed, Joe Louis. I think Joe’s the most highly thought of fighter ever was in the world. You got so many popping up now, you know, it’s getting common. But then it was something precious to people that they’ll never forget. I’ll never forget Joe. Never will forget him.”

– Jeremiah McClain, retired Detroit Chrysler plant worker

“Televisions were at a premium. I was very fortunate to have one of the first ones in our area. I had one of the RCAs with the bubble on the outside. And people would come at 6 o’clock in the evening. I would come in – I was working for the government … as a contracting offices representative – when I would come in from work that night, I couldn’t get in the house. It was like a theater. People were dragging their chairs … from down the street, neighbors that I knew and some that I didn’t know. But it was a lot of fun. My wife was fixing sandwiches, and it was like a theater. Really. Yeah. She was fixing sandwiches, and they were drinking beer, you know, and enjoying the fight. In my house.”

– Rev. Nathan Caldwell

“I was one of the kids that was idolizing Joe Louis. I was one of the Brewster Center kids. After listening to the fights on the radio, we would all head toward Hastings Street. And I shall never forget: there was a stable on Hastings and Alexandrine, a horse stable. The horses would be in the stable, but they would park the wagons outside overnight. And we would get one of those wagons, and about 25 of us would get between the tongs pulling it, and the wagon would be loaded with youngsters. And down Hastings street we would go: ‘Joe Louis won the fight! Joe Louis won the fight!’ That would go on to the wee hours of the morning. You couldn’t get through Hasting Street, because it would be jampacked with people, honking their horns, and kids running up and down the street. Ten or 15 minutes after the fight (we would) hear the boys say, ‘Extra! Extra!’ And you don’t hear that anymore, but immediately after the fight, you would have always wait to get the extra. And people would raise their windows – ‘Hey, boy, bring me a paper! Bring me a paper!’ There has never been another fighter that has created the kind of atmosphere as Joe.”

– Rev. Nathan Caldwell

Special thanks to Roy Bennett and Buddy Gibbs

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