It was only two minutes and four seconds
‘Fore Schmeling was down on his knees
He looked like he was praying to the good Lord
To ‘Have mercy on me, please.’
Bill Gaither, 1938
June 22, 1938 and over 70,000 fans crammed into Yankee Stadium to see the ‘Brown Bomber’ Jou Louis face off against German boxer Max Schmeling for the second time in two years. Their interest was matched by the 64% of radio-owning Americans who tuned in that night to hear the fight’s broadcast. In 1936 Schmeling had beaten Louis in the very same venue after exploiting a weakness Louis’s boxing style. It was a defeat that sent the black community in America reeling. Joe was the first black boxer to gain acceptance by the American boxing federation since the controversial Jack Johnson and his defeat was met with utter devastation in black communities. At a time when the Ku Klux Klan was enjoying a revival, Joe had been a symbol of hope that blacks could integrate in white society. His loss was about more than sport.