Joseph Louis Barrow (May 13, 1914 – April 12, 1981), known professionally as Joe Louis, was an American professional boxer who competed from 1934 to 1951. He reigned as the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949, and is considered to be one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time.
Nicknamed the Brown Bomber, Louis’ championship reign lasted 140 consecutive months, during which he participated in 26 championship fights. The 27th fight, against Ezzard Charles in 1950, was a challenge for Charles’ heavyweight title and so is not included in Louis’ reign. He was victorious in 25 consecutive title defenses.[nb 1]
In 2005, Louis was ranked as the best heavyweight of all time by the International Boxing Research Organization, and was ranked number one on The Ring magazine’s list of the “100 greatest punchers of all time”. Louis had the longest single reign as champion of any heavyweight boxer in history.
Louis’ cultural impact was felt well outside the ring. He is widely regarded as the first person of African-American descent to achieve the status of a nationwide hero within the United States, and was also a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment leading up to and during World War II.