Mar 25, 2014

The Great White Hope

Seventy two years ago this Thursday evening, March 27, 1942, Abe Simon got his rematch with Joe Louis for The Heavyweight Championship of the World. In 1942 that was a big sporting event, on par with the World Series. Millions of people across the country would be listening to the fight on the radio. Jack Johnson was the first black man to hold the World Heavyweight Championship, in an era which did not celebrate such an accomplishment. A former champ, James Jefferies, was induced by $100,000 in 1910 to come out of retirement to challenge Johnson. Jefferies was called The Great White Hope. The story became a movie in 1970, starring James Earl Jones. By the time Joe Louis became champion three decades later, although the resentment was gone, he was still referred to as the Negro Champion and the Brown Bomber. A promo for Abe Simon's first Louis fight even refers to Simon as The White Heavyweight. Simon certainly was no bigot, his trainer for the fight was none other than the great Jack Johnson himself.
reprinted from July 2012


Hank said...

Thanks to your blog postings I just purchased "Two Ton: one night one fight" about Tony Galento and his epic match with Joe Louis. Galento is easily one of boxing's most colorful characters too bad him and Abe never matched up would have been an interesting bout.

michael molovinsky said...

they both fought often at the same place, Laurel Gardens in Newark. Galento had a much longer career and many more fights. Simon didn't start fighting till 1935, and the second Louis fight in 42 was his last. Simon was a gentle giant who had to go out of character to fight. galento was considered one of the most meanest fighters in the ring.