Schmeling, Max (Maximilian Schmeling), 1905–2005, German boxer. He debuted as a professional fighter in 1924 and came to the United States in 1928. Two years later the methodical slugger beat heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey (by a foul) to become Europe's first world champ. He lost the title to James J. Braddock in 1932. In his greatest upset, a 1936 bout, Schmeling knocked out Joe Louis, then an unbeaten 22-year-old contender, and was lauded in Hitler's Germany as an Aryan idol, though he was neither political nor a racist. When they met again in a hugely hyped 1938 match, Louis, by then world's champion, was hailed as America's conquering hero. Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round after 124 seconds. Schmeling had a career total of 70 fights, 56 of which he won, 40 by knockout. He returned to Germany, where after World War II he became a successful businessman and philanthropist.
See his autobiography (1977, tr. 1998); L. A. Erenberg, The Greatest Fight of Our Generation: Louis vs. Schmeling (2005); D. Margolick, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink (2005).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.