Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Max Schmeling: The Black Uhlan of the Rhine

By Peter Silkov

Max “The Black Uhlan” Schmeling was one of the outstanding heavyweights of the 1930s, and one of the best heavyweights ever to come out of Europe. Born in Klein Luckow Meckleburg-Vorpommen, Germany, on September 28, 1905, Schmeling turned professional in 1924, at age 19, and developed into a good technical boxer, with a knockout punch. During his career, Schmeling would face top heavyweights such as Johnny Risko, Paulino Uzcudun, Jack Sharkey, Young Stribling, Mickey Walker, Max Baer, Steve Hamas, Ben foord, Walter Neusel, and Joe Louis.

Schmeling was a thinking fighter who would work our his training and fight tactics meticulously, and in many ways, he was ahead of his time training wise. Schmeling did not believe in road work, and instead opted to do most of his training on the golf course, and build his endurance up that way. On June 12, 1930, Schmeling won the World heavyweight title when he was awarded a victory via a disqualification in the 4th round after Jack Sharkey had hit him low. Although he was now world champion Schmeling cried in his dressing room afterwards, saying that this was not the way he wanted to win the title.

Schmeling held the world title for two years, making two defences, and on June 21, 1932, in his second defence, Schmeling lost his title to old foe Jack Sharkey on points.

After losing his world title, Schmeling continued to fight top contenders in an effort to gain another shot at the world title. On June 19, 1936. Schmeling scored one of the most spectacular upsets in heavyweight history when he defeated Joe Louis, knocking out “The Brown Bomber” in the 12th round. Although the victory over Louis should have gained him a shot at his old world title, which was now held by Jimmy Braddock, instead, Schmeling was frozen out, and had to wait until 1938 before he finally got a chance to regain the world title. By this time, Joe Louis was world champion, and he gained a terrible revenge for his earlier defeat to Schmeling by annihilating the German in the 1st round, with one of the most ruthless and clinical assaults ever seen.

The defeat to Louis, along with the outbreak of WW2, really signaled the end of Schmeling’s career as a top flight fighter. The war put Schmeling in a very difficult position, as he was never able to totally denounce Hitler due to his fears for the safety of his family.

After the end of the War, Schmeling made a brief comeback to the ring before retiring in 1948 at age 43. In his post boxing life he became a wealthy businessman, and one of his closest friends was Joe Louis.

Max Schmeling died on February 2, 2005, at 99 years of age. Schmeling’s final record was 56(40koes)-10-4.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to www.theboxingglove.com and www.theboxingtribune.com

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