LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - Joe Louis,
"the Brown Bomber" whose 12-year
reign as world heavyweight champion
placed him among history's greatest
fighters and made him a symbol for gen-
erations, died Sunday of cardiac arrest.
He was 66.
"He was in a cardiac arrest state
he arrived," said nursing supervisor
Shirley Brown at Desert Springs Hospi-
tal. "They did everything they could to
revive him." She said Louis died at 10:05
a.m., PST, less than 12 hours after he
had sat at ringside at the Caesar Palace
Sports Pavilion to watch Larry Holmes
retain his heavyweight crown.
"He had been ill for quite some
He had been hospitalized before. He had
had a stroke and different things," said
Brown, adding that Louis' wife, Martha,
and some immediate family members
were with him when he died.
He lost only three of 71 fights, the
to Max Schmeling of Germany in 1936.
Schmeling was an unwilling pawn of
Adolph Hitler, held aloft as a symbol of
so-called Aryan supremacy. When they
fought again two years later - Louis
was the champion by then - it was more
than two men in the ring. It was America
vs. Germany, Democracy vs. Nazism.
Louis won on a murderous first-round
On Sunday, when the tributes began
pouring in, one of them came from
Schmeling, now 75 and living in Ham-
burg, West Germany.
"Joe was a boxing genius," he
"In his time he was a symbol for the
black American people."
Jersey Joe Walcott, who lost two
fights to Louis, tearfully called him "a
great American. He was a great cham-
pion in every walk of life. The man has
been a great inspiration in so many ways
to so many people."
Called the Brown Bomber for his
punch and string of knockout victories,
Louis was just 23 when he won the title
by knocking out 31-year-old James J.
Braddock in the eighth round at Chicago
He had a 35-1 record, including
knockouts at the time he first won the
In 17 years as a boxer - almost
years of that time was spent in the army
during World War II - he earned nearly
$5 million. He had little to show for it
when he was through and was in con-
stant difficulty with the government on
When he retired for the first time,
March 1, 1949, he told reporters: "I'm
glad to retire. It takes a load off my
mind. I could see that I couldn't fight
any more and rather than lose the title
in the ring, I decided to quit."
But 27 months later he came out
retirement with a pressing need for
money, an urge to fight again and confi-
dence that he could beat reigning cham-
pion Ezzard Charles.
He met Charles on Sept. 27, 1950,
was soundly beaten in a 15-round bout.
"I'll never fight again," he said
through swollen lips.
But just two months later he was
in action with a string of victories.
His career in the ring finally
to an end when he met Rocky Marciano
in Oct. 26, 1951, at the age of 37. Mar-
ciano 28, knocked him out in the eighth
In 71 fights as a professional after
graduated from the Golden Gloves in
Detroit, the Brown Bomber scored 54
knockouts in posting a 68-3 record.
Louis confined to a wheelchair
heart surgery in 1977, attended the Larry
Holmes-Trevor Berbick heavyweight
title fight Saturday night at Ceasars Pa-
lace. On April 6 he had been feted by
some 1,500 people at a salute in his honor
attended by former boxing greats.
Louis defended his title a record
times before retiring.
But he was a legend long before
His deadly punching combinations and
ability to finish off an opponent who was
in trouble made him one of the great
Louis remained extremely popular
even after he left the ring following an
unseccessful comeback in 1950-51.
Money and psychiatric problems failed
to dim the glory he achieved as a fighter.
Not even a fling at being a proessional
wrestler could detract from his accom-
plishments. He was always the champ,
and a man of pride.
When asked why he turned to the
nival world of professional wrestling - a
move dictated by massive tax indebted-
ness - Louis remarked: "It's an honest
living and it's better than stealing."
Louis fought a record 26
bouts, 25 of them defenses, without a
loss and many of those fights will be dis-
cussed as long as people talk about box-
ing, especially his rematch with Max
Schmeling and his first fight with Billy
Louis was born Joseph Louis
May 13, 1914, in Lafayette, Ala. He was
raised in a Detroit ghetto and became a
professional fighter in 1934. His career
was spectacular from the start.
He won his first 28 fights before
knocked out by Schmeling, a former
world heavyweight champion from Ger-
many, in the 12th round June 19, 1936,
but he didn't forget the loss to Schmeling.
After knocking out Braddock in Chicago
in 1937, Louis said: "I won't be champion
until I get that Schmeling."
On June 22, 1938, in Yankee
Louis got him.
"He tried a right to my head but
went around me," Louis said, recalling
the fight many years later. "I left-jabbed
him mean and brought his guard low.
I drove a right to the jaw with all I had.
I put my body into it. It threw him on
the ropes and his knees buckled. I caught
him coming off the ropes and ripped
one into his belly. He screamed like a
Schmeling crashed to the floor
times before referee Arthur Donovan
stopped it at 2:04 of the first round. The
United States rejoiced. Adolf Hitler was
in power at the time.
"Billy Conn was the best man I
fought," Louis once said.
His first fight with the
Irishman, the formwer light heavyweight
champion, took place in New York's
Polo Grounds June 18, 1941. It has be-