The Brown Bomber

Since tomorrow is African American History Day at the Detroit Historical Museum, we are sharing some of the objects in our collection related to one of Detroit’s most famous sports heroes, boxer Joe Louis.

This circa 1940 electric clock was manufactured by United Clock Corp in Brooklyn, New York. Emblazoned with “Joe Louis World Champion”, it lionized the man who won his first World Heavy Weight title in 1937 and retained the position until announcing his retirement in 1949.

Joe Louis’s manager was issued this exchange requisition card (i.e. a ticket to get a ticket) for his client’s bout against Bob Pastor at Briggs Stadium (later Tiger Stadium) – a fight Louis won, in typical fashion, with a knockout. Louis fought seven professional matches in Detroit during his career, although the only venue still standing is the Broadhead Naval Armory.

Joe Louis, born Joseph Louis Barrow, moved to Detroit with his family when he was 12 years old. It was here that he trained as an amateur boxer before turning pro. Besides boxing, he also worked at the Ford Rouge plant and served in the Army during World War II. After passing in 1981, Louis was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, only the second time it had been given to a professional athlete. Today his name is conspicuously honored in Detroit by Joe Louis Arena, the large statue in the atrium of Cobo Center, and the monument near Hart Plaza.

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