Yankee Stadium, New York,
Sept. 27 - Joe Louis, one of the
great champions of all time, came
to the dreary and shocking end
of his historic ring trail Wednes-
day night, lashed to a bloody pulp
by Ezzard charles in 15 rounds.
There was no vicious cry for
blood and more blood from the
little crowd that witnessed this
unanimous crowning of the 184-
pound Charles as heavyweight
champion of the world.
This, the crowd knew, was the
end of a great sports saga, and the
very symbol of it was Louis as
he wobbled unhappily to his cor-
ner at the end - bloody, blinking
and with one eye in total eclipse.
All but unnoticed in the fu-
neral wake of the fight, Jake
Mintz, manager of the 29-year-
old champion from Cincinnati,
turned somersaults in the
empty center of the ring.
But there was no levity else-
where, not even among those in
the crowd who had liked Charles'
chances and had taken advantage
of the odds that had made Louis
a 1-to-2 favorite.
Louis missed his one and only
chance to make the world forget a
hardy old ring bromide that goes
"they never came back." In the
10th round he summoned for one
fabulous space of seconds a meas-
ure of the killer instinct that had
made him an immortal ringman.
Wading through the light,
rapler-like punching of the even-
tual winner, the balding 36-year-
old Louis landed a hard right to
the head that spun the lighter
man away like a top. He followed
with a crushing side-arm to
Charles' kidney, and jabbed him
groggy with that old pile driving,
Louis was rolling and the
crowd, which had sensed the end
of his reign almost from the time
he came out of his corner at the
beginning weighing 218 pounds,
cried out madly for him to fin-
ish off his jet-black tormentor.
Charles neatly mustached
face now caught a short, shock-
ing right and - as if by some
quick-acting alchemy - it was
suddenly a hideous mask made
of a closed left eye, and of blood
that leaped from his nose to
paint his once-white mouthpiece
a flaming scarlet.
As Louis came at him, for the
kill, Charles blew a great red
spray at his face . . . and some-
how he held on, while Joe's flail-
ing arms picked up pound after
pound every time he lifted them.
The bell intervened, but it was
only the second intervention. Old
man time had caught up with Joe,
unseen, in the very middle of his
last great flurry of punches. He
slumped in a veritable agony of
exhaustion when he reached his
corner, and Manny Seamon, his
trainer, had to shout him back
to consciousness by howling into
his ear, "How are you?"
For Joe, the fight and his dream
of regaining a championship that
had eluded such predecessors as
Corbett, Jeffries, Fitzsimmons,
Dempsey and Sharkey, had ended.
The remaining five rounds were
for him only the sweaty epilogue
of what looked very much like
a tragedy to those who remem-
bered the Louis of old. The mas-
ter of the homely epigram wrote
his own epitaph in the dressing
room after the fight:
"I'm through. I'll never fight
again. I just didn't have it . . .
I'm all washed up."
Charles, who embraced Louis
like an idolatrous school boy after
beating him dizzy, said, "Now I
understand why Joe was cham-
pion as long as he was. I don't
care who I fight now. For I beat
About all that was left of Louis
the champion Wednesday night
was his champion's heart.
Heavy-legged from the start,
Joe often let the man who was
30 pounds lighter than himself
dance a jig around him as he
stood flat-footed in the center
of the ring and waited.
Charles surprised by varying
the jig with quick, hard charges
that confused Joe. He began
these tactics in the first minute
of the fight when without warn-
ing he rushed Joe, landed on
Joe's belt-line and looped a right
to Joe's head. Befuddled, Joe
missed the first of hundreds of
By the middle of the first
round. Joe's nose was a bright
cherry imbedded in his ginger-
bread face. Charles swarmed
around, giving ground as Joe
moved out from the center of the
ring and then barging in bravely
to beat Joe to punches.
Joe evened the fight briefly in
the second round by meeting the
inrushing charles with a jarring
left hook. Charles scouted around
Joe's edges, with respect, and
then ran into a hard Louis right
to the body at the end of the
round, winding him.
Louis went into his familiar
stalk in the third, but Charles
was hard to tag. Worse, while
trying to tag Charles, Joe was
running into a blizzard of light
jabs and an occasional loop to
the head or a hook in the head.
Charles' left eye had began to
swell a bit, but he was also be-
ginning to pile up his eventual
winning margin - and he knew it,
and it gave him fine heart.
Charles changed his tactics
briefly in the fourth catching Joe
with the first of many straight
rights - thrown like a fine archer.
He slipped several murderous
punches from Louis and took a
little edge in the round.
Joe's weariness began to show
in the fifth. He lowered the shade
on Charles' eye a bit more in this
round, but he just wasn't win-
ning the fight. Charles was hit-
ting him oftener, and seldom
missing - as was Joe. Joe's legs
began to look like a brown flag,
in a calm.
The crowd of 22,357 (the gate
of $205,370 was Louis' lowest out-
door gate) knew as a man that
Joe was going fast in the sixth.
Charles much faster than the old
champ, zigged and zagged about
the ring, but never out of range
as Joe stumbled after him. Ezzard
hit Joe with blows to the body,
and a sharp right to the jaw. He
made Joe fumble and paw like a
blind man with one dazzling feint,
then clouted him on the left eye
and all but closed it.
It was then that Joe knew he
had to knock out his man to win.
Edging forward, with a face sud-
denly like a vast and cautious
Mongolian, Louis tried to meas-
ure him, but the yardstick was
missing. He ran into Charles
spouting jabs, and one good hard
right that shook him.
In the seventh Charles went
back to work on Joe's bad eye,
rubbing his brillo-like hair
against it in the clinches. Joe
blinking, was wild and hardly
landed a punch that counted.
It was the same in the eighth
and worse in the ninth. In that
latter round Charles, showing
surprising strength, flung the
heavier man out of a clinch. Joe
half-stumbled to the ropes and
Charles swarmed all over him.
Both men began bleeding profuse-
ly and waded into one another
in a classic brawl in which Char-
les simply out-thought and out-
fought the Bomber.
Then came Joe's 10th, a thing
of great rage and greater frustra-
tion. While Joe slumped on his
chair, after the great and futile
effort, Charles attendants worked
feverishly on him, damming the
flow of blood and talking to him.
And as if from the night air of
the two-thirds empty stadium,
Charles summoned the reserves
of his youth.
Charles was brisk and busi-
ness-like in the 11th. His
punches were faster than Joe's
and he seemed to have made up
his mind that Joe had shot his
bolt. He took several of Joe's
last remaining punches as if
they were nothing and fought
back craftily, closing Joe's eye
and making of Joe's face a bowl
of gore such as he had not
shown since the night, more
than 14 years ago, when he lost
the only other fight of his pro-
fessional career - to Max Schme-
Charles messed him and mauled
him in the 13th. Coming out for
the 14th Charles ignored the
shrieking command of his corner
to "move"! Instead, he moved to
Louis and bloodied Joe's freshly
Moreover, in this 14th round
Charles was close to confounding
his critics by knocking out Louis.
Even Charles firmest adherents
had dreamed only of a decision.
But now he rushed Joe, engaged
the winded and unhappy-looking
Bomber at close range and nailed
him with a right uppercut that
started from Charles knees and
did not stop until it had plunked
on Joe's button and scraped up
his face like a hoe.
Joe's legs turned to a fat
brown parenthesis and he stum-
bled backward like a drunk,
sick and filled with despair and
disbelief. He might have fallen
- and provided the only knock-
down of the fight if he had not
hit the ropes.
Charles assaulted him with the
medium ammunition of his hooks
and loopers. Joe moved sleepily
along the ropes, escaping the
worst of the assualt more by luck
than by cunning. As if in a night-
mare he wandered diagonally
across the ring, streaming blood
from his nose. He hugged the
charging Charles and their blood
mixed and ran down the other's
body. In the horrid embrace Joe
reached a sodden glove to his
nose and wiped a great smear of
gore from his face. Awakened a
bit by the sobering sight of the
blood on the back of his glove
he pushed Charles back to the
center of the ring, where Charles
missed his hardest punch of the
Too hurt and dazed, Joe did not
hear the bell that sounded out a
temporary reprieve. He hit Char-
les a bit after that bell sounded
and Charles, blazing with the only
visible anger of the fight, fought
back with a punch until referee
Mark Conn intervened.
The 15th was . . . well, the kind
of ending that Joe's friend's
warned him would come to him
if he ever returned to the ring.
He was a helpless mass, bleeding
and bewildered. Charles played
with him with no fear of a re-
tort. He flung Joe this way and
that and when Joe lunged at him
- driven on by his heart - it was
the pathetic charge of an unarmed
man fighting a man with blazing
For the crowd, it could not
end soon enough. The verdict
was routing: Referee Conn gave
Charles 10 rounds and Louis
five; Judge Joe Angello saw it
as 12 for Charles and three for
Louis; Judge Frank Forbes call-
ed it 13 and 2.
It took Joe's remaining strength
to walk out of the ring and the
crowd that walked out with him
felt for him and knew, too, for
the first time, that Charles is not
the bum they thought he was.