Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Joe Louis' Decision to Turn Pro - Margery Miller Welles

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 Joe Louis: American

          One of the reasons Joe Louis decided to become a professional pugilist when he did was a colored girl named Marva Trotter, whom he had met in Chicago.
          While training for one of his amateur bouts at Graftson's Gymnasium on Randolph Street in 1933, Joe was approached by a friend, Gerard Hughes, a rabid sports fan. Accompanying Gerry was a young golden-colored lady. "Joe," Gerry said, "I finally persuaded this girl to come in here and meet you. Her name is Marva Trotter. Marva, meet Joe Louis, the next world's heavyweight boxing champion."
          Marva was a beautiful girl, and Joe did not easily forget her. He took her to the movies fairly often. But one thing about their relationship bothered him-Marva seemed far above him in many ways. The Trotters were high up in Chicago negro society. Marva had graduated from Inglewood High School and then from the Gregg Business School. Her grammar was perfect, her manners above criticism. She even had a brother who was a minister. She had known advantages which were denied to Joe, and her every word and action showed it. Certainly she was not the type of girl to be won by a laborer in a Ford plant who made only five dollars a day, could not express himself well, and saw very little hope for a bright future, unless… Suppose Gerry Hughes had been right, and Joe could become world's champion? That vision caused Louis to do a good deal of thinking. Coupled with his family's need for more money, it determined him to resign his job at the Ford plant and become a professional boxer.

Margery Miller Welles' senior thesis from Wellesley College (1945)

Back Cover of Joe Louis: American 

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