“Don’t cry for me…I have no alibi; I was awfully tired…Guess I’m too old,” said Louis, then 37, after he was defeated by Rocky Marciano. “Other fighters, newspapermen and members of Joe’s retinue were visibly showing their sorrow, through tears and saddened faces…This was the end of a great champion.”
Louis worked at the end of his life as a greeter in Las Vegas. He died penniless at age 66 on April 12, 1981. Schmeling, who became his close friend after the second fight, reportedly helped pay for his funeral.
Camphor said he plans to travel to New York on June 22 to see a fight to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the famous fight and to pay homage to Louis.
“When Schmeling beat him the first time, Hitler declared supremacy,” the former educator said. “When Louis beat Scheling in the second fight, he defeated Nazism. He beat Hitler’s best man. He was a hero. He will always be a hero for doing that.”
Reprinted from the Afro-American. Avis Thomas Lester is AFRO Executive Editor
James “Winky” Camphor. (AFRO Photo/Avis Thomas-Lester)