JOE LOUIS: My Life by


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I danced, I paid the piper, and left him a big fat tip.""--that about sums up Joe Louis' life in the ring and out. Unlike many of his fans, Louis doesn't think he was taken advantage of--not by his managers, not by his three wives, not even by the taxman. The rise to the top--he became World Heavyweight Champ in 1937 after a K.O. over Jimmy Braddock in the 8th--was smooth sailing for Louis, whose only bad moment came when he lost to Max Schmeling, a ten-to-one underdog. (""I was sitting on the dressing table and crying like I don't think I ever did before."") Open-hearted and generous, Louis loved money--to spend on Momma, his sisters, his Brown Bomber softball team, his wives and children. Unabashed, he also admits to loving the ladies who turned up in droves--including Lena Horne and Sonja Henie. The declining years when he wrestled with huge IRS bills, business deals that went sour, drugs, booze, and even a mental breakdown were tougher--but Louis writes about it all with the same dignity and equanimity. He denies ever being modest (""I was just as vain as Muhammad Ali"") but fans who remember when will dispute that.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1978
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich