Boxing champion Joe Louis was born Joe Louis Barrow on May 13, 1914, in Lafayette, Ala. At age 10 he moved to Detroit with his family and developed his interest in boxing.
As a light heavyweight, Louis won the Golden Gloves novice division championship in 1933 and became a professional in 1934, knocking out Jack Kracken in the first round of his first professional match.
In 1937, Louis became the world heavyweight boxing champion by knocking out James J. Braddock in the eighth round of their match.
Louis joined the U.S. Army as a private in 1942, participating in exhibition matches and promoting enlistment.
He reigned as world heavyweight boxing champion from 1937 to 1949, successfully defending his title 25 times before retiring. He returned to the ring in 1950, retiring permanently the following year.
Louis died on April 12, 1981, and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal the following year. In 1990 he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Louis was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1982, in recognition of his "accomplishments which did so much to bolster the spirit of the American people during one of the most crucial times in American history and which have endured throughout the years as a symbol of strength for the Nation.”
The design of a 29¢ postage stamp honoring Joe Louis was unveiled Sept. 18, 1992, at the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y. The stamp, designed and illustrated by Thomas Blackshear, was issued June 22, 1993 (Scott 2766).