Joe Louis and the Magnificent Seven

By Clarence George on May 13, 2014
Joe Louis and the Magnificent Seven
Mexicans root for Mexicans, Irish root for the Irishman, Hungarians root for Laszlo Papp.

I don’t think any of the seven could’ve beaten the great Joe Louis. Not that he would have found it easy or pleasant. But would he have found it?

“Even white folks on the job that would say nigger 50 times a day, that would say boy this and boy that, would light up when they talked about Joe.”—Dick Gregory

John Henry Lewis, Jack Roper, Tony Galento, Bob Pastor, Arturo Godoy, Johnny Paychek, Al McCoy, Clarence Burman, Gus Dorazio, Abe Simon, Tony Musto, and Buddy Baer. What do these Dirty Dozen have in common? Why, they’re the toughies who made up Joe Louis’ Bum of the Month Club, the contenders the “Brown Bomber,” whose centenary we celebrate today, beat between January 1939 and May 1941. And there’s something else—except for Lewis, all the “bums” were white.

Most whites loved Louis (though they might have felt differently if they’d known of all the mush he got up to with Sonja Henie and Lana Turner). As Joe Louis Jr. said, “What my father did was enable white America to think of him as an American, not as a black. By winning, he became white America’s first black hero.” But that doesn’t mean white America wouldn’t have preferred one of their own as champ. Fair enough. Mexicans root for the Mexican, the Irish root for the Irishman, Hungarians root for, well, there was Laszlo Papp…boxing is nothing if not tribal.

Is that why Joe Louis, greatest heavyweight of them all, didn’t give title shots to some of the best black heavies of his day? Taking out the Great White Hope component left you with…what? Exchanging one black champ for another lacked oomph.

While I don’t condemn Louis for doing what’s best for business, a word or two is owed to those black heavies who would be better remembered today if they’d been among the Bomber’s so-called bums.

I’m thinking of Lem Franklin, Harry Bobo, Turkey Thompson, Lee Q. Murray, Elmer Ray, Curtis Sheppard, and Jack Trammell, who spent much of their careers in a pugilistic version of Six Degrees of Separation. Franklin, who fought from 1937 to 1944 (31-13-1, 28 KOs), beat Sheppard, as well as Lee Savold, Abe Simon, Willie Reddish, and Jimmy Bivins. Bobo, a pro from ‘39 to ‘44 (36-9, 24 KOs), took out Franklin, not to mention Wild Bill Boyd and Lee Savold. Thompson fought from ‘38 to ‘52 (54-15-2, 39 KOs), beating Ray and Murray, as well as Johnny “Bandit” Romero (knocking him out on three separate occasions), Teddy Yarosz, Pat Valentino, Gus Dorazio, Arturo Godoy, and Willie Bean. As for Murray, who also fought from ‘38 to ‘52 (59-17-3, 42 KOs), he took out Sheppard, Bobo, and Thompson, in addition to Ted Lowry and Jimmy Bivins. While Ray, a pro from ‘35 to ‘49 (85-17-5, 63 KOs), didn’t beat any of his six compadres, he did emerge victorious over Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles. And let’s not forget his nine bouts with the much-avoided and never-stopped, over 17 years and 101 fights, Obie Walker, winning four, losing three, and drawing two. Walker was the second-to-last World Colored Heavyweight Champion, a title rendered defunct by Joe Louis’ reign. Sheppard fought from ‘38 to ‘49 (52-33, 33 KOs), beating Murray, as well as Unknown Winston, Joey Maxim, Gus Dorazio, and Johnny Shkor. Trammell fought from ‘31 to ‘46 (50-12-2, 30 KOs). He, too, never got to face Louis, though his last wish, that Mike Tyson pay him a visit, was graciously granted.

I don’t think any of the seven could’ve beaten the great Joe Louis. Not that he would have found it easy or pleasant. But would he have found it? Oh yeah…he would have found it.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

This Day in Boxing History January 25, 1939 Louis KOs Lewis in 1



Joe Louis vs Jack Roper



Joe Louis -vs- Tony "Two Ton" Galento 1939 (16mm Film Transfer)



Joe Louis vs Bob Pastor II 1939 (Film Transfer)



Joe Louis vs Arturo Godoy, I



Joe Louis vs Johnny Paychek



Joe Louis vs Al McCoy



Boxing - Joe Louis v Red Burman



1941-03-21 Джо Луис--Эйб Саймон Joe Louis--Abe Simon



Joe Louis vs Buddy Baer, I



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  1. Clarence George 02:18am, 05/19/2014

    Thank you, Mike!  One can only assume that Richard Burton was in desperate need of money or attention…or to be surrounded by beautiful women.  But I always liked it, because one gets to see a lot of (wink wink) Joey.

  2. Thresher 09:16pm, 05/18/2014

    Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen, Keith Gordon, and Dennis Franz. and a whole lot of angst

  3. Mike Silver 08:58pm, 05/18/2014

    Ah! Thresher and Clarence! You did not disappoint! Thresher receives a DVD of you know who in “Dressed To Kill”!!! And Clarence, one with our favorite minx in “Bluebeard”!

  4. Thresher 07:47pm, 05/18/2014

    I never received any of the largess but there was always hope back then thanks to that arm without a face

  5. Clarence George 07:41pm, 05/18/2014

    I’m not at liberty to say, Mike, but I won’t gainsay a visit from Michael Anthony.

  6. Mike Silver 07:32pm, 05/18/2014

    Clarence, I think I know who the wealthy patron is—John Beresford Tipton!
    (Bet only the Thresher knows that one!)

  7. Clarence George 07:30pm, 05/18/2014

    Well done.

  8. Thresher 06:42pm, 05/18/2014

    Peter Graves

  9. Clarence George 04:58pm, 05/18/2014

    And James Arness’ brother was…?

  10. Thresher 02:44pm, 05/18/2014

    The original “Thing” scared the holy hell out of me as a kid. James Arness played the giant bloodsucking carrot. I’ll never forget it. I had a box of popcorn and was eating it when they opened the door and the Thing appeared and wanted in. That popcorn hit the ceiling of the theater and I almost pissed in my pants. Didn’t sleep for a week.

  11. Clarence George 01:54pm, 05/18/2014

    The original “Thing” is a classic.  Ben Johnson lived in the same retirement home as his mother…and predeceased her!

  12. Thresher 01:39pm, 05/18/2014

    Actually, like “The Thing,” there were three “Getaways.” I like the one with Ben Johnson because he was truly evil when he wanted to be. Yep, Dodson was hapless.

  13. Clarence George 12:27pm, 05/18/2014

    Thresher:  Wasn’t even aware of the remake.  There’s only one Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), one Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller), one Perry Mason (Raymond Burr), one James Bond (Sean Connery)...and one “The Getaway” (1972), despite Ali MacGraw’s characteristically awful acting.  By the way, Jack Dodson, a boxing fan, was perfectly cast as hapless Harold.

  14. Thresher 11:43am, 05/18/2014

    A wounded Rudy manages to drive himself to a local clinic, where he holds veterinarian Harold (James Stephens) and his wife Fran (Jennifer Tilly) hostage, then forces them to treat his wounds and drive him to El Paso. An attraction develops between Rudy and Fran and they taunt her meek husband. At a motel, Rudy has sex with Fran after tying Harold to a chair. Hearing his wife’s moans and her laughter at him, a humiliated Harold commits suicide by hanging himself. Fran barely looks back as she accompanies Rudy to El Paso.

    Rudy might have been Michael Madsen=, another madman type

  15. Thresher 11:39am, 05/18/2014

    CG, You are making me do a lot of work, Check this out. It was the second “Get Away” with the noxious A Baldwin.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Getaway_(1994_film)

  16. Clarence George 09:52am, 05/18/2014

    Angie was at her most attractive, I think, in “Rio Bravo”—http://img2-2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2012/09/05/rio-bravo.jpg.  Who I found very sexy as she got older is Dyan Cannon.  I don’t think Jennifer Tilly was in “The Getaway.”  Anyway, she would have been a mere child at the time.  Are you thinking, perhaps, of Sally Struthers?  As for Gina…sorry, but I don’t find her at all attractive.  Anyway, I’m a big fan of Lettieri and Bronson.  Amazing how little appreciated is “Hard Times”; “Death Hunt” even less so.

  17. Eric 09:07am, 05/18/2014

    That was Bronson’s third best IMO. Hard Times is definitely numero uno with the first Death Wish at number two, and then Mr. Majestyk. I’d rank Death Hunt at numero four, Angie and Lee both were in that one with Charlie.

  18. Thresher 08:47am, 05/18/2014

    Angie was mighty “FINE” in that movie with Lee Marvin where he played Walker and did some serious damage in a low key sort of way. Oh she was a fine as it gets in that one—Point Blank I think it was and a great cult film.

    Now then CG, what do you have against Gina playing lesbian roles. Tilly did as well. Are you an unequal opportunity type here? As for the luscious Tilly, I believe she was done in by Al Lettieri in The Getaway after her husband off himself.

    As for the late Al, here is one of the best left hooks you will ever see:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esjt1eJA328

  19. Eric 08:02am, 05/18/2014

    haha. That looks like a young Angie’s face, but I’m not sure who the body belongs to? Angie was at her hottest IMO, in the Seventies. Don’t know how old she was back then, but she peaked probably in her forties. To be honest I feel she really wasn’t all that when she was really young, but slightly before, during, and after “Police Woman,” sexy as hell.

  20. Clarence George 02:48am, 05/18/2014

    Eric and Thresher:  There’s always—and I mean always—a boxing connection:  http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2013/282/1/1/angie_dickinson_by_koqueen1-d6psso1.jpg.  Thresher, I expect to see this posted on your Facebook Page with all dispatch.  As for Gina Gershon…when has she not played a lesbian?

  21. Thresher 05:26pm, 05/17/2014

    The idea of Angie Dickinson bound gives me, well, a quiver.

    But I think its Gina Gershon I refer to.

  22. Clarence George 08:55am, 05/17/2014

    No, no, I was referring to the movie, “Bound,” which Thresher mentioned.

  23. Eric 08:50am, 05/17/2014

    Oops. Sorry, I thought you were referring to Angie Dickinson.

  24. Clarence George 08:25am, 05/17/2014

    I myself have not heard that about Dickinson.  As for Coetzee, I never saw him as anything more than, at best, mediocre.

  25. Eric 08:06am, 05/17/2014

    I’ve heard that about Angie Dickinson? Is that true? Still, no problem sharing. teehee. Remember she looked so sexy in the movie, “Pretty Maids All In Row.” She had the hots for Rock Hudson, and Hudson was quite the ladies man in that movie, I guess that’s why they call it acting. Have to respectfully disagree with you on Gerrie Coetzee. He was a pretty decent heavyweight and beat some decent fighters. He beat Kallie Knoetzee, Leon Spinks, Michael Dokes, and in reality beat Renaldo Snipes, in one of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen. His fight with Pinklon Thomas was ruled a draw and this was a time when Thomas was a helluva fighter. Beat a solid fighter named Stan Ward. He did look pretty bad against Tate, but he appeared to being doing alright against Weaver until it looked like the big guy just gassed out.

  26. Clarence George 03:07am, 05/17/2014

    Nicolas:  Alive, yes, but not particularly well.  I think you’re right, that there was (and is) a nostalgic yearning for another Rocky Marciano.  But that’s because he’d been such a great champion at a time when boxing in general and the heavyweight division in particular were still in their glory.  But I don’t think he was much seen as a Great White Hope, despite his taking the title from Jersey Joe Walcott.  Further, I don’t think there was a great deal of racial angst when Floyd Patterson became champ, or that Ingemar Johansson was particularly considered a GWH.  There was some resurgence of this attitude when Muhammad Ali came along, even though the times were very much changing, because he could be so deliberately provocative and even objectionable.  Hence, the GWH mantle about Jerry Quarry’s shoulders.  But Gerry Cooney vis-à-vis Larry Holmes?  Yes, but I don’t think it amounted to much more than a snake writhing after its head had been cut off.

    Completely agree with you, as I said previously, that guys like Gerrie Coetzee, with their little piece of the pie, can hardly be considered world champs in any legitimate sense.  Besides, I couldn’t stand him as a boxer, never mind as a “champion.”

  27. nicolas 09:14pm, 05/16/2014

    Clarence, I also would not consider Coetzee a heavyweight champ, as I would not even consider Page or Dokes. I am just trying to point out that the Great White Hope label was alive. I would suggest that Gerry Cooney had he been a black fighter would not have had the financial success that he did have. I remember the front cover of time magazine which featured on the front cover Stallone and Cooney, and always felt underneath the Rocky character was a wish for a great white hope like Rocky Marciano.  While Coetzee was not regarded so greatly by the American public, I just wanted to point out that it was alive and well with that persons comments when he did beat Dokes.

  28. Clarence George 06:32pm, 05/16/2014

    Three observations, if I may.  First, to each his own, but I don’t find women with lesbian tendencies at all attractive.  Second, I refuse to acknowledge Coetzee as heavyweight champ.  Godawful “talent.”  Third, I still kinda consider Quarry, rather than Cooney, the last Great White Hope.  By the time Cooney became prominent, it was a watered-down concept.  People still tried to milk it (if you’ll forgive me for mixing my liquids), but I don’t think it resonated much anymore.  Even Quarry could hardly be considered a GWH in the same sense James J. Jeffries was.

  29. Eric 03:39pm, 05/16/2014

    @nicolas…To be honest with you I don’t ever remember people really putting the “White Hope” label on Gerrie Coetzee. I would say that Gerry Cooney was the last true “White Hope,” Tommy Morrison, was tagged with it to a much lesser degree. A prime Cooney vs. a prime Morrison would’ve been an interesting match, two of the best left hooks of all time. When Coetzee won a partial title over Dokes, it was no biggie, everyone still recognized a fading Larry Holmes as the true champ. Even when Coetzee leveled Leon Spinks in one round in 1979, he never received the fanfare that Cooney would receive beating up an aging trio of veterans in Young, Lyle, and Norton. Coetzee vs. Cooney was a match that should’ve been made back in the day.

  30. nicolas 02:47pm, 05/16/2014

    two black fighters before some of the fighters mentioned, I have always felt would have been world champ had they not had the color barrier, George Godfrey who beat Larry Gains on numerous occasions, and of course Gains who had knocked out Max Schmeling early in the German’s career, and defeated Primo Carnera. Many of Godfrey’s bouts were fixed when he lost, and probably fouled Carnera instead of losing in a fixed fight an other way. Like Johnson, I think that Godfrey also did not like Joe Louis. Think about this also, when Sonny Liston became heavyweight champion, he was the sixth African American to do so, but only the 10th African American to get a shot at the heavyweight title and two of the four others, Archie Moore, and John Henry Lewis had or held the light heavyweight championship.

  31. Thresher 02:42pm, 05/16/2014

    Mike. black vs. white = green

  32. Thresher 02:40pm, 05/16/2014

    No It was the one who seduced Tilly!!!!!!!!! I believe she did some plumbing -pun intended

  33. nicolas 02:20pm, 05/16/2014

    MIKE: I don’t know why you want to call Gerry Cooney a dumbbell. When Gerrie Coetzee knocked out Michael Dokes for the WBA heavyweight championship in October of 83, a South African fan was heard afterwards saying “it’s a great day for white people everywhere”. tommy Morison when he knocked out the fading Pinklon Thomas, thomas was heard saying to Morrison “your the next great white hope”. Finally, when Vitali Klitschko nearly defeated Lennox Lewis, some African Americans on some show I remember said, if Klitschko had beaten Lewis, Al Sharpton probably would have given a sermon ‘what has happened to the black man’.

  34. Eric 08:52am, 05/16/2014

    @Thresher…. Angie Dickinson was so damn SEXY. She wasn’t a classical beauty but she just oozed SEX. She was one of the few women who looked better in her forties than she did in her twenties.

  35. Clarence George 02:40am, 05/16/2014

    Well done, Mike!  I was commissioned by a wealthy patron of Boxing.com, who wishes to remain anonymous, to see if your knowledge of the Sweet Science was as encyclopedic as ever.  I undertook the task by the deliberate inclusion of subtle mistakes.  The purpose?  Why, to see if you would catch them.  You passed with flying crullers…again, well done!

  36. Mike Silver 11:03pm, 05/15/2014

    Clarence, I wouldn’t despair. We still have ‘ol Daniel Mendoza, best heavyweight in England for a time even though he never went over 160.
    Speaking of “White Hopes” it was Gerry Cooney who was the last dumbbell to be anointed with that dubious label in his title fight with Holmes.

  37. Clarence George 05:47pm, 05/15/2014

    I think you mean Jennifer Tilly.  She’s indeed very sexy, especially her voice.  Reminds me a bit of my former fiancée.  There’s a girl in my building who looks like Anna Zielinski, which I find rather discomfiting.

    Big fan of Jersey Joe, but I always had the feeling that he was older than, well, pretty much everyone.

  38. nicolas 03:51pm, 05/15/2014

    while some would say that Louis was past his best years when he faced Walcott, many I am sure are not aware that Wacott and Louis were about the same age, with Walcott being two months older. Many of the fighters at the time, be it black or white, probably had to fight at almost a moments notice, which can account I think for some of these black fighters losses. I understand that was Walcott’s early career. I think a fighter like Louis, on his rise up to the heavyweight championship was basically planned, just like many today’s fighters. Even on the way up, unlike Jack Johnson, Louis I don’t think fought many black fighters.

  39. thresher 03:18pm, 05/15/2014

    Angie Dickinson and Kim Novak (when she was young) did it for me BIG time. You could almost smell them on the screen. A mixture of vanilla, lemon cream, eggnog, and a touch of kiwi and maybe just a passing scent of body heat.

    Also the one who played the heavy in Bound can turn things up a beat.

  40. Clarence George 09:08am, 05/15/2014

    Eric:  I, too, prefer the old to the new, but of the three you mentioned, the only one who’d be in my top 10 is Joey.

  41. Eric 08:34am, 05/15/2014

    I’m biased when it comes to old school vs new school “hotties.” Maybe because back then my testostrone levels were much higher. Those old school hotties like Heatherton, Angie Dickinson, Sophia Loren, etc., momma mia!!  Those three would definitely be in my top 10 all time rankings.

  42. Clarence George 07:50am, 05/15/2014

    Eric:  Joey Heatherton is one of my absolute favorites.  Hard to believe (not to mention depressing) that she’s now around 70.  Of the current crop, give me (please!) the little-known, but sexy and chic, Anna Zielinski:

    http://puregoldpg.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Anna-Zielinski.jpg

  43. Eric 07:39am, 05/15/2014

    Joey Heatherton! She was a hottie.Always had a thing for her and Angie Dickinson.

  44. Clarence George 04:47am, 05/15/2014

    Outstanding post, ch.

  45. ch. 04:32am, 05/15/2014

    Clarence, thanks for this thought provoking article. In most cases the black contenders blew fights before they could really establish a strong case for a chance at Joe Louis, giving his management and Mike Jacobs a chance to by-pass them, for bouts against whites, that Jacobs thought would be more lucrative at the box office.
    LEROY HAYNES was the 1st black threat to Louis but he just couldn’t get by the crowding, all-action milling of Al Ettore (3x) and the savage brutality of Tony Galento.
    BUDDY WALKER was another who was publicized as a possible threat but multable losses to Tony Shucco and a loss to Dorazio slowed him down. JACK TRAMMELL’s losses to Eddie Blunt, Tiger Jack Fox and Patsy Perroni knocked him out of contention.
    HARRY BOBO dropped two to Dorazio and another loss to Bettina and eye problems really removed him as a threat.
    CURTIS SHEPPARD’s many losses eliminated him from being acceptable as a Louis rival. And every time LEE Q. MURRAY made headway he would blow fights to the likes of Al Hart, Sheppard, Johnny Flynn and when he finally got his showcase bout at Madison Square Garden he and opponent TURKEY THOMPSON put on one of the worst matches in MSG history. He dropped 3 out of 5 to Bivins and was destroyed by Sid Peaks.
    All of this being said most deserved their shot at Louis more than did Al McCoy, Johnny Paychek, Harry Thomas, Buddy Baer and Tami Mauriello etc.
    ELMER VIOLENT RAY definitely was ducked and would have provided Louis with some real danger but Joe’s brain trust figured Elmer’s age would finally catch up to him if they waited long enough and Charles + Walcott finally eliminated him but not before Elmer Ray had defeated them both in their initial encounters. And JIMMY BIVINS might have proved troublesome to Louis with his long reach, smothering offense and all around ability but I just can’t see him winning because he didn’t have Walcott and Ezz’s punch to keep Louis at bay for 15 rounds.

  46. Clarence George 03:15am, 05/15/2014

    Mike:  Jeez, Jews just can’t get a break when it comes to the heavyweight division.  First Max Baer and now Bob Pastor.

    Completely agree, as you know, with your respect for Joe Louis’ “bums” and your disdain for the current crop.

    I envy you having known Eddie Blunt.  He fought out of New York and had a great ring moniker—“The Dark Spoiler.”

    Thanks for reminding me of Louis’ wonderful quote, which accomplished the virtual miracle of shutting Ali up for a couple of seconds.  I looked it up in my notes, and this is how I have it:

    Ali:  “Joe, you really think you coulda whipped me?”
    Louis:  “When I had the title, I went on what they called a Bum of the Month tour.”
    Ali:  “You mean I’m a bum?!”
    Louis:  “You woulda been on the tour.”

    Hard to forgive Ali for having once referred to Louis as an Uncle Tom, but if I can forgive Larry Holmes for having said that Marciano couldn’t carry his jockstrap (not that he explained why he would want to)...

  47. Clarence George 02:48am, 05/15/2014

    Nicolas:  Thanks very much indeed, and good to have you back.  You say you’ve been sans computer, but I assume that’s a euphemism for being pleasurably busy with a girl the spitting image of Joey Heatherton when she took off her jacket in the courtroom in “Twilight of Honor.”  Anyway, excellent post.  What you say about Ali’s persona is correct, of course, but what happened was inevitable, as the times were undergoing dramatic change.  The concept and practice of a World Colored Heavyweight Champion ended long before, in the 1930s, with the reign of Joe Louis.  The last such champ was Larry Gains, an outstanding boxer who refused to take a dive.  “Sorry, I don’t even swim,” he would say.  Add to that the huge influx of blacks into the heavyweight division and the greatly reduced number of whites.  Long gone the days when most of the guys were Italian or Irish.  In fact, I think Jerry Quarry was the last heavy referred to as a Great White Hope.  It just no longer applied.  Kinda amazing when you think about it, but Klitschko is the first white heavyweight champ since Johansson, and there hasn’t been an American one since Marciano!  Not the only change, of course.  Tell a casual fan, for instance, how Jews once dominated the sport, and they literally don’t believe you.

  48. Mike Silver 11:31pm, 05/14/2014

    Re: Bob Pastor. I spoke with his daughter in law a few years back. She told me Bob Pastor’s father was Jewish, his mother was not. Pastor was raised Lutheran.
    Most of the fighters on Louis’s bum of the month tour were competent and experienced heavyweights and far better than the mediocre slugs who inhabit today’s pathetic heavyweight division.
    Also like to give a shout out to my friend Eddie Blunt, a contemporary of the great black contenders mentioned by Clarence. Eddie, who defeated the likes of Trammel, Reddish, Simon and Savold, was better than his record would indicate and one of the finest individuals I have ever met.
        Joe Louis could always be counted on for a great quote. I don’t remember it exactly but the interviewer had Ali and Louis on the same show. He was talking about Louis’s “bum of the month campaign” and then asked him how Muhammad Ali would have done against him. Without skipping a beat Louis deadpanned “He would have been on the tour”.

  49. nicolas 10:56pm, 05/14/2014

    Great article Clarence. I have not had a computer for a while, just got one. When Louis fought Walcott, I believe that there was some fear that people would not turn out. Not only was Louis a heavy favorite, but it would be only the third time that two black men fought for the heavyweight title, if you include Johnson’s fight with Jim Johnson, and I think there is some debate if that was only an exhibition. Marciano would defend his title against three different black fighters, all former or in the case of Moore, a light heavy weight champ. Afterwards though, Patterson would only have one successful defense against a black fighter, and fought one other one named Sonny Liston. Frazier would really only defend his title two times against black fighters, Foster and Ali, and of douse lose to Foreman. He had more defenses against non black fighters, with the last two against Terry Daniels and Ron Stander. I have written it once and I will write it again, Louis made it possible for the black man to be a champion, but Ali really allowed it for the black man to be a challenger. He probably would have had more defenses against black fighters had he not been forced to go on the European tour and fight Cooper, Mildenberger, and Brian London, with of course George Chuvalo included. I know Clarence you have I guess can be said to have derided Ali’s behavior, though not his talent. But had he not had that behavior, I don’t know if promoters would have been looking for that man who could ‘shut up the Louisville Lip’. Sonny Liston though, might have also been that fighter as well, as it was not considered a good thing at the time that he was champion.

  50. Clarence George 03:46am, 05/14/2014

    Very kind, Bikermike.  Glad you enjoyed it.

  51. bikermike 03:38am, 05/14/2014

    as ever Clarence George gives us yet another great read !!

  52. Clarence George 06:32pm, 05/13/2014

    If you haven’t already, C.H., I urge you to write a double-barreled article on Dorazio/Pastor.

    You’re quite right, Irish—Pastor was Jewish.

  53. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:02pm, 05/13/2014

    Clarence George-I’m thinking Bob Pastor born Pasternak was a Jew….am I wrong here….either way he was the real deal.

  54. c.h. 04:44pm, 05/13/2014

    Eric - Bob Pastor was one of the slowest starters I have ever known in boxing history. He should have started all his fights in round two because the 1st round was truly a nightmare for him (but he always survived). In the second Louis fight he was down 4 times in the first, 6 X vs Thompson (1st), 2 X in bout two, Bivins dropped Bob twice in the 1st in both of their bouts, Franklin also had Pastor down in the first.

    Clarence George - At a time when prospective Louis opponents were fainting at the thought of facing him, Dorazio actually thought he could beat Louis and challenged him at every opportunity. As you know he confidently carried the battle to Joe and got caught by one of the greatest punchers ever. Gus was only flattened twice, the other by tremendous puncher Turkey Thompson. He was stopped on cuts by Conn, the ref stopped the Toles battering, He should have been DQ’d in the Reddish fight when ref Joe McGuigan said “Gus wasn’t trying,” a fight that many in Philly thought was a fix. The 3 stoppages at the end of Gus’ career were because his scar tissue got so bad that his cuts would hemorrhage and could no longer be clotted….and there was more to the story about the homicide than is commonly known.

  55. Thresher 01:55pm, 05/13/2014

    You don’t go into the ring with Joe Louis unless you’re tough.—Bob Pastor

  56. Thresher 01:51pm, 05/13/2014

    “I resent that because if a kid’s a fighter, he can’t be a bum. You’ve gotta be a special individual to be a fighter. I blow my stack when I hear that because it’s one on one; anything can happen. Any bum can get lucky. There’s no bum of the month.” - Angelo Dundee

  57. Clarence George 01:34pm, 05/13/2014

    Excellent post, C.H.  I don’t know a whole lot about Dorazio, but I recall what the politically incorrect (Hurray!) Billy Conn said to him before their bout, when Dorazio was complaining about the color of the trunks he’d been given:  “Listen, dago, all you’re going to need is a catcher’s mitt and a chest protector.”  True enough—“The Pittsburgh Kid” stopped him by eighth-round TKO.  I also know that Dorazio served time for murder, having been overzealous in his role as enforcer for a brewery.  As for Pastor…able and very tough, he once faced a guy who ran from the ring rather than continue the fight.

  58. Eric 01:12pm, 05/13/2014

    @C.H….. Didn’t know that much about Bob Pastor, had heard of him, but that’s about it. Looking at his record, Pastor did have an impressive list of victories. In one of those fights with Thompson that you mentioned, Pastor was floored six times in the first round and came back to get a 10 round decision. Helluva comeback.

  59. Matt McGrain 12:48pm, 05/13/2014

    The only one of those dudes that made #1 was Ray.  He was only there for a few weeks.

  60. C.H. 12:00pm, 05/13/2014

    GUS DORAZIO was the top spoiler of the heavyweight division during the late 30’s and early 40’s and was probably the toughest of all of Louis’ “Bums.” He scored upsets over Bob Pastor, Harry Bobo (2), Buddy Walker, Joe Baksi, Al Hart, Lem Franklin.  Harry Keck, dean of Pittsburgh boxing writers, reported of the Dorazio - Curtis Sheppard fight. “I almost fell off my chair when the decision was announced , and when Announcer Joe Tucker told us in the working press that it was unanimous, I just about passed out. I thought Dorazio was the boss from the start and never lost control of the fight…“it was a fight in which the Hatchet was almost always on the retreat, hitting going away, and his opponent was chasing him and forcing the fight, barging in with resounding hooks to the body and head and when he did get hit in return , moving right back in to take the play away from the Hatchet.”  From Jimmy Miller (Pitts. Sun-Telegraph)  “The aggressor throughout, Dorazio, on my score sheet, won seven of the ten rounds, with the Hatchet winning only two and one being even….Dorazio piled up a big lead with his forcing tactics and incessant punching with both fists in close , his work more than offsetting Sheppard’s lpng jabs and choppy rights.”  Dorazio’s loss to Baksi at Wash. DC. was so bad that an investigation of District boxing was brought in the aftermath of that incident.
    BOB PASTOR was Joe Louis’ policeman. He burst the bubble of most of the black heavyweights who were streaking and considered prospective challengers that Mike Jacobs wanted eliminated. Some of the black threats that Pastor removed included : Roscoe Toles, Canadian Tiger Warrington, Turkey Thompson (twice), Booker Beckwith, Lem Franklin, Jimmy Bivins. Pastor gave Louis a frustrating evening in their 1st match and gave Joe a very tough battle , the second time around, after surviving a savage 1st round beating - finally succumbing in the 11th.

  61. Clarence George 10:20am, 05/13/2014

    Irish:  Important to note that Ray beat, but was also beaten by, Charles and Walcott.  Still, Louis would indeed have found him a “formidable foe.”

    Thresher:  I found this:

    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-pKm_RC2IiF8/UGLLFOIAuzI/AAAAAAAAA0c/xXJpVOVPo3o/s1600/402477_2968001873736_1072367935_32836890_858283414_n.jpg

  62. thesher 09:59am, 05/13/2014

    From Google

      “:The Joe Lewis Milk Company was established in 1954 in at 10842 S. Michigan Ave, (below) not to far from where I was born. The neighborhood is officially called Roseland but because of it’s high crime ratio, it’s commonly referred to as “The Wild Hundreds”. Jewel’s Food’s carried Joe Lewis’s milk until 1977, at which point the company ceased operation.

    “Occasionally I use to drink this milk as a child. I remember it around the house at times, but no one explained the importance of it or who Joe Lewis was and I never asked.

    ” I don’t think I knew who Joe Lewis was until after college. But when I saw this milk cartoon on the internet, I became nostalgic.”

  63. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:40am, 05/13/2014

    Clarence George-Your articles and especially the research involved, much like Ted Sares’ articles always give me food for thought….so….let’s see now….Elmer Ray defeats Jersey Joe and the great Ezzard Charles….which leads me to believe he could have beaten most of the same fighters that Joe did in his career….which further leads me to believe that he would have indeed been a formidable foe for Joe, at least more so than Gus Dorazio of whom Joe said: “At least he tried.”

  64. Clarence George 07:46am, 05/13/2014

    I agree, Eric.  I particularly like Bobo’s alliterative “Peabody Paralyzer.”

    Irish:  The IRS behaved disgracefully toward Louis, especially given his sacrifices for the war effort.  The same is true of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

  65. Clarence George 07:38am, 05/13/2014

    Thanks very much indeed, Thresher, and well done on writing about Paychek, another in a long line of sadly neglected boxers.

    Perhaps anecdotal, but I heard that Marciano cried like a baby after defeating Louis, who was his idol.

    I didn’t know Louis had a milk company, though I have heard of Joe Louis Punch, a soda.

  66. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:23am, 05/13/2014

    Clarence George-Finally….I thought for a moment you had joined Ted Sares…..which reminds me….back in the days of de facto segregation “up North” I caddied in a black golf tournament at the South Park golf course on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. I literally ran into Joe on my way to the snack bar to get my customary post round double decker chocolate ripple ice cream cone. He was sporting a mustache and was at least 25 lbs above his fighting weight….the impression I got as a dopey kid at the time was that he was truly in his element on the golf course and in a good place at that point in his life (must have been before all the tax issues that damn near destroyed him).

  67. Eric 07:18am, 05/13/2014

    Gotta love the fighters nicknames back then, Elmer “Violent” Ray, Curtis “Hatchet Man” Sheppard.

  68. Thresher 07:03am, 05/13/2014

    One more point—I drank Joe Louis milk as well.

  69. Thresher 07:03am, 05/13/2014

    When I was a kid, Joe Louis was everyone’s hero. When he lost to Rocky Marciano, many wept, for Joe had transcended the sport and was viewed as America’s fighter. Fact is, Joe Louis was neither brown nor white; he simply was the most beloved champion in boxing history.


    “I was privileged and will always be grateful to have had Joe Louis as my friend. The son of an Alabama sharecropper, Joe Louis fought his way to the top of professional boxing and into the hearts of millions of Americans. Out of the ring, he was a considerate and soft-spoken man; inside the ring, his courage, strength, and consummate skill wrote a unique and unforgettable chapter in sports history. But Joe Louis was more than a sports legend – his career was an indictment of racial bigotry and a source of pride and inspiration to millions of white and black people around the world.”—President Ronald Reagan (April 13, 1981)

     

  70. Thresher 06:40am, 05/13/2014

    Outstanding effort Clarence.  I once did a piece on Johnny Paycheck but I’ll be danged if I can locate it. Elmer Ray was a real bomber. Nice attention to detail.

    I only have one point of dispute (for now) and that is Joe would not be 100 today because I aw him fight while in my late 30’s.

  71. travis roste 06:23am, 05/13/2014

    today, May 13, 2014, the 100th anniversary of joe louis birth, he would have been 100 today!

  72. Clarence George 04:50am, 05/13/2014

    My pleasure, Joe.

    My favorite is Turkey Thompson, but it’s well worth making the acquaintance of all these boyos.

  73. Joe 04:37am, 05/13/2014

    Thanks for the history lesson; I’ll have to do a bit of research on these cats.  Much appreciated.

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