Who? If you know boxing, then you know Max Schmeling. Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling (September 28, 1905 – February 2, 2005) was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in the late 1930s transcended boxing and became worldwide social events because of their national associations: Nazism vs Democracy; White vs Black.
Despite his supposed associations with Nazism it became known long after the Second World War that Schmeling had risked his own life to save the lives of two Jewish children in 1938.
During the '36 Olympics Max Schmeling exacted a promise from Hitler that all U.S. athletes would be protected. On several occasions Hitler tried to cajole the respected boxer into joining the Nazi Party, but Schmeling vigorously refused ever to join the Nazi party or to publicize the Nazi propaganda line. He refused to stop associating with German Jews or to fire his American Jewish manager, Joe Jacobs.
Max Schmeling died at the age of 99 at his home in Hollenstadt. Schmeling became one of Germany’s most revered sports figures, not only for his singular athletic accomplishments in the 1930s but for his humility, discipline and character. He was buried next to his wife, the Austro-Hungarian-born Czech film actress Anny Ondra (Anna Sophie Ondráková), to whom he was married for 54 years. They had no children. Find out more about the fascinating Max Schmeling at wikipedia, or watch him fight on youtube.
The above press photo was taken on January 27th, 1931. That's his manager with the cigar, and yes, on his lap is his "mascot," red smooth dachshund 'Cilly.'
A former New York boxing commissioner who had become a Coca-Cola executive offered Mr. Schmeling the postwar soft drink franchise in Germany, and he became a successful businessman and one of Germany's most respected philanthropists.
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