29¢ Joe Louis
Issue Date: June 22, 1993
City: Detroit, MI
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Considered a brutal sport, boxing was illegal in the United States until the early 1900’s. In 1920, New York passed the Walker Law, permitting public prizefighting. As other states began legalizing boxing, it quickly grew to become one of the most popular spectator sports of the day. It was during this golden age that one of the most famous boxers emerged.
Born Joe Louis Barrow, he shortened his name to Joe Louis after he began fighting. In 1934 he won the National Amateur Association Light Heavyweight Championship and later that year turned to professional boxing. He won his first 23 bouts before being defeated by former heavyweight champion Max Schmeling in 1936. The following year he regained his title, which he successfully defended 25 times until his retirement in 1949. His reign as heavyweight champion, which lasted 12 years, was the longest in the history of the heavyweight division.
In 1950, the “Brown Bomber”, as Louis came to be known, returned to challenge his successor, Ezzard Charles. Although he was defeated, Louis went on to win several other fights before losing his final fight to Rocky Marciano. From 1934 to 1949, Joe Louis had 71 bouts, 68 of which he won.