Tag Archives: Jack Kracken

Top of the Food Chain, Joe Louis or Muhammad Ali?

 

These kind of discussions over the internet tend to favor moderns who are want to express opinions without context or factual basis as to why their hero is is #1.

Bert Sugar perhaps infamously chose Cleveland fullback Jim Brown for his all time greatest athlete. Never mind that teammate Marion Motley has a higher career rushing average and did it basketball hightops because no football cleats could be found then to fit his monstrous feet. Motley could also clear out the defense in support of his running back and quarterback, hard, gritty work that was beneath Brown, and Motley also pulled fulltime duty as linebacker, a two way, 60 minute player, something the coddled Brown was never good for. But of course Brown was also such a great lacrosse player, never mind that Wilt Chamberlain proved in two footraces that he was significantly faster than Brown and could turn him upside down to shake all his change loose at will not to mention being a collegiate, multi-event track and field star during his down time from basketball. Wilt a world class volleyball player in his retirement, the best in his day. Wilt didn’t even like basketball because of it’s stupid rules and the stupid media always pestering him, but it was the most lucrative option for him, so he made the best of it as a record setter both on offense and defense. Even did a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters before his NBA career, damned hard to top that.

Now modern media “experts” claim Michel Jordan is the best athlete ever, never mind he wasn’t even a mediocre division B minor league baseball player and only a modestly endowed golfer. Jim Thorpe, fresh off an Indian reservation, won both Pentathlon and Decathlon Olympic gold medals in Sweden, then played major league baseball for several years before co-founding and becoming the first ever star of the National Football League. It don’t get any better than that as an athlete, but moderns just shrug and say, Jim Who?

So, here we go, Bobby Mac’s Facts Update, just the facts ma’am, so:

What are the career records of Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali?

Joe 66-3, 52 KO vs Ali 56-5, 37 KO

OK, clearly Joe is vastly superior, but there are records and then there are RECORDS, so let’s delve deeper.

ProDebut:

Joe, age 20 yrs, 1 month, 22 days, coming off winning the United States National AAU tournament with a final record of 50-4, 43 KO, debuted @ 181 lbs against Jack Kracken, 27-7-3, in the “city of the big shoulders,” Chicago, July 4th, 1934, US Independence Day. Drops Kracken in the opening seconds and then blasts him through the ropes into the lap of the shocked Illinois commish to formally announce to the world the transformation from Joe Barrow to Joe Louis. Has there ever been a better boxing debut than that? Prior he was no more than a po’ sharecropper’s boy from Podunk, Alabama. The $59 depression purse went a long ways in those days, the most money he had ever earned in his life.

Ali, age 18 yrs, 9 months and 12 days, coming off Olympic Lightheavy Gold glory with a multitude of final ama record claims, debuts @ 192 lbs, October 29th, 1960, in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky against Tunney Hunsaker, 16-9-1, a Sunday School teacher and police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia. Ali touched up Hunsaker some with a bloody nose and cut eye for a 6 round unanimous decision and a healthy $2000 purse for the day. Solid hometown pro debut for such a young kid, but no comparison to the spectacular 4th of July fireworks set off by Joe.

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Da Preem vs Joe Louis

Longest Title reign and record:

Joe 11 years, 252 days, 26-0, 23 KOs vs Ali three combined title runs of 3 years, 63 days + 3 years, 108 days + 284 days = 7 years, 90 days, 22-2. OK, but Joe had three more title fights, 1 competitive decision loss to Charles in his comeback and a knockout of Lee Savold who held the BBBC version of the split title + the last white heavy belt for a final title record of 27-1 vs Ali’s humiliation KO loss to Holmes for a final title record of 22-3.

Now, if we extend out the Ali years up to the first Frazier fight, they’d be just short of Joe, but, remember, Ali also relinquished his Ring belt early so his good buddy Jimmy Ellis could fight for it. Ring never awarded the belt to Ellis yet kept Ali as Champion through 1969. Joe is still superior and lost just as many prime years as Ali did under dangerous flying conditions in the US Army.

First and last Ring Top 10 ratings:

Joe #1 in his first year of eligibility, age 20 vs Ali #9 in his first year of eligibility, age 19.

Joe #5 when he challenged Champion Charles in 1950, age 36, and #6 against #2 Marciano in 1951, age 37. Ali was last ranked as Champion in 1978, age 36.

Joe clearly superior though Ali managed to slide into Ring ratings a year earlier than Joe because of his earlier debut.

HOF fights:

Joe 13 such fights, 10-3 9 KO vs Ali 14 such fights, 11-3, 8 KO. Joe with 2 KO losses vs Ali with 1 KO loss.

Joe earliest HOFer and win @ age 21 yr, 4 month, 11 days over Baer vs Ali earliest HOFer and win @ age 20 yr, 9 months, 28 days over Moore.

Joe last HOF win @ age 37 yr, 3 month and a day over Blivins vs Ali last HOF win @ age 34 yr, 8 months, 11 days over Ken Norton, a hotly disputed decision.

Ali with tiny edge in total HOF fight, Joe with KOs, and Ali with one less KO loss. Joe a few months older for first HOF fight vs Ali a bit younger, but Joe considerably older for last HOF win than Ali. They both lost their last HOF fights by KO, but Joe in his 8th fight over 10 months in his 37th year gave Marciano all he could handle for 8 rounds vs Ali out of retirement carried mercifully by Holmes trying to get the fight stopped with no damage to Ali. Joe definitely finished the stronger fighter overall.

Controversial fights:

Joe only had two, the first Buddy Baer and JJWalcott fights which he quickly avenged with savage KOs in the rematches vs far too many controversial fights for Ali, really too embarrassing to mention that he always benefited from every controversy. Big advantage Joe who consistently took care of business in a more professional way than did Ali who needed a lot of help from the suits.

Unified America behind him:

Joe

Split up America over him:

Ali

Won a Supreme Court Decision:

Ali, of course, major props and maybe the highlight of his life.

Young Cassius

Young Cassius “The Greatest” Clay

Summoned to the White House by the President for consultation on impending military desegregation policy:

Joe, the one and only.

Inspiration for the two most prominent black civil rights spokesmen in history:

Both Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela count Joe Louis as providing the inspiration for a higher dignity and purpose of what their people might achieve if allowed their civil rights.

Who loses to Leon?

Ali, of course. Joe on his worst day in shackles and blindfolded could never lose to Leon.

Now, lest this take on a wholly one sided analysis, in general most fans would agree that Joe Frazier and George Foreman are better than the best Joe took on, but Ali never really showed he was better than Frazier. Most can finally admit Joe whooped the holy jinn out of him the first fight, and did it in spite of referee Mercante near poking out his only good eye midway through the fight. The second fight was competitive and close, and the third a happenstance of incredible good fortune when Frazier’s scout couldn’t make it from Ali’s corner to Frazier’s corner to tell them Ali was quitting. Joe was on his feet bouncing around like a rubber ball waiting to be unleashed when Eddie Futch pulled the plug as Ali stood up and collapsed. Nor could the terribly grievous conditions in Zaire that all favored Ali ever be replicated, thus no rematch with George who only spent 9 seconds on the canvas in his first career knockdown, yet was counted out. Compare to Ali who collapsed seconds later for a 30 count that took his legions to elevate him over to his corner.

Yeah, and maybe Sonny Liston was better than Joe’s best too, but Joe could easily beat a fighter who quit on his stool and take a dive as well as the next guy, so let’s keep it real…over and out.

 

 

Joe Louis—Born on the 4th of July

Dateline-4TH of JULY, 1934:

Mighty Young Joe

Mighty Young Joe

Alabama sharecropper’s son, Joe Louis was birthed as a professional boxer at Bacon’s Arena, Chicago, Illinois, forever altering the history of the known world.

Need I remind anyone the miserable state of affairs in the world in 1934, particularly gruesome in Asia, Britain and Europe?

The storied Joe Louis  left hook made it’s debut, knocking down Jack Kracken, 10-6, to open the first round. One good punch shortly thereafter and the world was officially put  on alert when Louis knocked Kracken OUT of the ring into the lap of the startled Illinois Athletic Commissioner overseeing the bout. The ruckus stirred up so much havoc that the poor timekeep never got out of the gate to record the time of the first round KO.

Nobody needed to wave the Red, White, and Blue or strike up the Brass Band. The fireworks he staged in the ring were impressive enough to be remembered forever.

Joe earned $52 for his efforts, a pittance by inflated modern standards, but nothing for a sharecropper’s boy to sneer at in those morbid Depression era years, yet so much greater riches and acclaim awaited in the wings than he could ever imagine in his wildest dreams.

Some 20 years prior, Joseph Louis Barrow made a more typical entry as a bouncing baby boy in Lafayette, Alabama, May 13th, 1914 from the union of Munroe Barrow and Lillie (Reese) Barrow, the seventh of eight children. He weighed 11 pounds at birth, already a heavyweight. The champion, Jack Johnson was in his last year as an exile in France. The next year he would lose his title in Cuba to big Jesse Willard, leaving the door ajar for Louis to slam shut some 22 years later.

The purpose of this article is not a blow by blow account of Joe’s rise to the top of the heap. You can peruse his chronological record here, read the fight reports, and click on his bio: Joe Louis

No sir, I bring up that hot 4th of July introduction of Joe Louis to cheer your countenance and warm your cockles on these frigid winter days and lend perspective why he is usually considered the greatest pure heavyweight in history.

The entire fate of the Free World, indeed, the entire world of high and mighty down to common folk and other sharecropper’s sons and daughters resided in the dynamite of his fists not even 4 yrs later, June 22, 1938.

Joe & Max

Joe & Max

70 million folks in every imaginable time zone and of every imaginable nationality, race, religion, and class across the world listened to THE FIGHT, the first ever truly international broadcast of a championship fight.

By Jove, can JOE LOUIS GET ANY BIGGER THAN THE UNIVERSAL TRUTH without the Sun exploding in OUTRAGEOUS RIGHTEOUSNESS? 

Creation

Creation

Some intriguing Joe Louis ring essentials defy all logic:

~~Louis finished his debut year in the Ring rankings.

~~First full year of boxing and Louis finishes as Ring #1 with James Braddock being the new champ.

~~Third full year of boxing and Louis, barely a month after turning 23, wins the title, already sporting a record of 4-1, 4 KOs against future HOFers.

~~Joe was still in his prime when he volunteered for the US Army at the start of World War II resulting in 3+ yrs of professional boxing inactivity, yet remained invincible in his return to the ring with a 4-0, 3 KO title defense record, 3 of those wins being against future HOFers.

~~Fourteenth year of boxing and Joe Louis retires as unbeaten, untied, universally beloved champion, still holding the current never to be broken record of 25 defenses and near 12 yrs as champ. His record was an incredible 58-1, 50 KO. He had just turned 34 and beaten all of his competition out of sight for the immediate future.

Of all the championship modern heavies passing through the gates of time since, only Wladimir Klitschko has come close to that record, currently age 34 and 55-3, 49 KO. Take almost 4 years out of his career to match Louis, and he wouldn’t even be close.

~~Louis makes comeback after two years retirement at age 36, taking on The Great Champion of the day without a tuneup, Ezzard Charles, and dropping a hard fought decision. Joe soldiers on, winning 8 straight against era contenders in becoming Ring #1, beating yet another future HOFer, Jimmy Bivins, before succumbing an all time legend, Rocky Marciano, putting up a tough fight before going out on his shield.

~~Included in the above post retirement streak was Lee Savold who was the BBB of C recognized Heavyweight Champion of the World, making Louis the first to regain a portion of his heavyweight title. Regrettably, the BBB of C decided to “strip” Joe by recognizing Ezzard Charles the very next day. Savold was also the last known holder of the “white heavyweight title,” a title Joe never claimed nor wanted, but was entitled to by merit.

Final record of 66-3, 52 KO.

G I JOE

G I JOE

While in the US Army, Joe Louis not only ran interference for the Robinson twins, Jackie and Sugar Ray, but he mentored them much as Joe had been mentored by Jack Blackburn and John Roxborough. Without Joe Louis both fiery competitors would have likely ended up in the brig and the sports world deprived of their matured greatness when they emerged from the US Army with honorable discharges.

Joe Louis was awarded the Legion of Merit medal in 1945 for meritorious service during dangerous war conditions endured on both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters after logging more than 21,000 miles and staging 96 boxing exhibitions before two million servicemen, a defacto free pass out of the service. I became acquainted with one of those elderly grizzled service fighters in my youth, a still in fighting trim ex-Navy heavyweight champ, Mr. King, who swelled in obvious pride when he recounted his exhibition with Joe.

The boost in morale Joe Louis gave to the troops was incalculable. He reputedly fought an exhibition at Cheesefoot Head, a very large natural amphitheatre in the Hampshire countryside just outside Winchester, England in front of tens of thousands of gathered Allied troops just days before the massive D-Day invasion of Normandy.

So, when President Harry Truman was turning over the intractable issue of military integration in 1949, Joe Louis was one of the few men whose counsel he solicited, and you better believe that the naturally reticent Joe gave Mr. President the full measure his Army experiences and opinions.

If ever a man was the embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy of walking softly and carrying a big stick, Joe Louis would be that man.

Nelson Mandela cites Ghandi and Joe Louis as his greatest influences growing into his own manhood as does Martin Luther King.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0451527534/ref=sib_rdr_dp/104-3205997-1576710

As the pellet dropped into the container, and the gas curled upward, through the microphone came these words: “Save me, Joe Louis. Save me, Joe Louis. Save me, Joe Louis.”

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5337959

“Every time I hear the name Joe Louis my nose starts to bleed.”- Tommy Farr

Joe Louis by his nature had a very compact, relaxed style both in and out of the ring, never prone to great flashy shows of extemporaneous physical prowess or braggadocio, yet his simple observations are as timeless as his abbreviated knockout punches:

“He can run, but he can’t hide.”

“Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.”

“Everyone wants to go the heaven, but nobody wants to die.”

When mocked for his Bum of the Month record by the new champ, Muhammad Ali, Joe kept it simple and on target…

“I’d make you one of my bums too.”

And with my personal favorite, Joe knocked simplicity on it’s noggin when queried by a brusque reporter who noted that Joe didn’t like getting hit to the body…

”Who do?”

When Joe Louis finally passed away a month before his 67th birthday, then President Ronald Reagan ran interference and secured him an esteemed burial plot just below the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery where he was buried with full military honors.

Obituary: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/joelouis.htm

Posthumously he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Of course, in Detroit, he has an arena named after him with a massive sculpture of his arm and fist, and this year a, 8’ tall bronze statue of Joe was erected at the county courthouse of his birthplace.

There are so many more complexities to the story of Joe Louis from his tragic battles with the IRS and shaky accountants, to the long list of his wives, women, and his friends that layered themselves into the fabric of his greatness, it becomes like trying to bottle lightning whilst reading The Iliad and The Odyssey Through The Looking Glass.

His magnificent boxing records and influence outside the ring may dim in the glittering here today, forgotten tomorrow bling of modern public consciousness, but Joe Louis can never be eclipsed in history.

…………………1 9 3 7 ~ 1 9 4 9 ………………

1937 ~ 1949

1937 ~ 1949