- Luckett V. Davis
Louis, Joe (13 May 1914–12 April 1981), boxer, was born Joseph Louis Barrow near Lafayette, in Chambers County, Alabama, the son of Munroe Barrow, a farmer, and Lillie Reese. His father was committed to a mental institution in 1916, and his mother later married again to Pat Brooks. The family, which included eight children, moved to Detroit, Michigan, when Louis was ten years old, and he attended school there until dropping out at age seventeen. As a boy he worked in a food market and delivered ice and coal. A friend, Thurston McKinney, introduced him to boxing, and he had his first amateur fight in 1932. Discouraged after a bad beating, he worked briefly at the Ford Motor Company but soon returned to boxing and became a highly successful amateur. He won fifty of fifty-four amateur fights and, in April 1934, became the American Athletic Union national light heavyweight champion. He dropped the name “Barrow” by accident, by incorrectly filling out an amateur application card, and was always known thereafter in boxing as simply “Joe Louis.”...