This Day in Black History: Sept. 24, 1935

Boxer Joe Louis became the first Black boxer to draw a $1 million purse.

Posted: 09/24/2013 12:15 AM EDT

Joe Louis is one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. His nickname was the Brown Bomber and he became the first African-American to draw a $1 million purse in the field of boxing on Sept. 24, 1935.

Louis, who was born in 1914, achieved that financial status in a celebrated fight against Max Baer, the former heavyweight champion, at Yankee Stadium in New York. Although Baer had been knocked down only once before in his professional career, that time by Frankie Campbell, Louis dominated the former champion, knocking him out in fourth round.

Beyond that, Louis had a tremendous cultural impact on the country beyond the world of boxing. He was widely considered the first African-American figure to achieve hero status. He was also a focal point of anti-Nazi sentiment in the years leading up to World War II and during the war. He was also a key figure in integrating professional golf. He broke the color barrier in golf in the United States by appearing under an exemption in a PGA event in 1952.

Louis died in 1981 at the age of 66 of cardiac arrest near Las Vegas. President Ronald Reagan waived the eligibility rules for Arlington National Cemetery and Louis was buried there with full military honors.

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 (Photo: Keystone/Getty Images)

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