The US Postal Service honored Joe Louis (1914-1981) with a 29-cent commemorative stamp issued on June 22, 1993, at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. This issuance marked the 55th anniversary of the 1938 Louis-Schmeling rematch, in which Louis knocked-out Germany's Max Schmeling in the first round. Fought under the shadow of Hitler's march into Europe, the fight took on the broader symbolic significance of democracy against fascism.
The stamp is based on a classic photograph of the chap: Louis, in a boxer's stance, has his fists held high, ready for action. This stamp was the first US postage stamp to commemorate the sport of boxing.
Joe Louis (1914-1981) was born Joseph Louis Barrow (also known as the Brown Bomber) in Lafayette, Alabama, on May 13, 1914. He began his boxing career in Detroit, winning forty-three of fifty-four amateur bouts by knockout. He became a professional boxer in 1934 in Chicago, when he knocked-out Jack Kracken in the first round. Louis won sixty-three of sixty-six professional contests, forty-nine by knockout, thirteen by decision on points, and one through disqualification of his opponent.
In 1993, Louis held three heavyweight boxing records including the longest heavyweight title holder (eleven years, 9 months), a twenty-five times title defender (more than the preceding eight heavyweight champions combined), and first round knockouts of five opponents. Some of Louis's most memorable fights were with Schmeling, Primo Carnera, Jack Sharkey, James Braddock, Max Baer, Jersey Joe Walcott, Billy Conn, and Two-Ton Tony Gelento.
Louis died in Las Vegas on April 12, 1981. He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
Designed by Thomas Blackshear of Novato, California, the stamps were printed in the offset/intaglio process by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and issued in sheets of fifty.
Postal Bulletin (June 10, 1993).