A founding author of Sports Illustrated, my grandma has been
nominated to join the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Margery Miller Welles -my grandma- witnessed one of the
most important sporting events in American history in 1938 at age 15 when
her father took her to Yankee Stadium to watch Joe Louis fight Max Schmeling.
For her Wellesley College thesis she wrote a bio of Joe titled,
"Joe Louis: American" which was published before she graduated in 1945 and
reviewed by Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer and Eleanor Roosevelt.
An excerpt from her book (1945):
Celebrities from the political, stage, screen, and radio worlds gathered in Madison Square Garden one March night in 1942 to participate in a show for the benefit of the Navy Relief Society. They had in common the facility of speech necessary to their professions and a sincere desire to help their country win her great struggle against aggressor nations.
In the course of the evening, one after another of them was called upon to speak. The big crowd was appreciative of the things they said, for the speeches, ranging from the serious to the comic, were all good. They were, for the most part, concerned with the war, and what it meant to be an American. Joe Louis, world’s heavyweight champion, sat in the crowd that night and applauded with the rest. Although he boasted little education and his grammar was not of the best, he had been warned that he might be asked to speak. His secretary had inquired, “You want me to write out something for you, Joe?” But Joe answered, “No. If I get up there, I guess I’ll just naturally say what I feel.”
When the announcer said, “I present to you Joe Louis, world’s heavyweight boxing champion,” Joe made his way to the speakers platform. As he stood in front of the microphone, dressed in the uniform of a United States soldier, a hush fell over the audience. Joe raised his eyes and, looking directly at the great silent crowd in front of him, said, “We all got to do our part, and then we’ll win. ‘Cause we’re on God’s side.”
A newspaper reporter from one of New York’s dailies turned to a colleague in the press row. “Has anybody ever put it like that before?” he asked. “Not that I know of. They say, ‘God’s on our side, but that’s different.”The speeches of the other celebrities that evening have been forgotten. But Joe Louis’ two sentences sill live in a poem written about them by Carl Byoir and in the hearts of many who heard the champion speak them.
|Back Cover of Joe Louis: American|