Tag Archive for max schmeling

Fightin’ Words: Quote of the Week

In light of the excessive amount of political commentary making headlines these days, this week’s quote was chosen for its apt relevance with regards to the state of contemporary political discourse.

Responding to allegations that he was a Nazi sympathizer after having dined with Adolph Hitler, former German heavyweight champion Max Schmeling replied,

“I once went to dinner with Franklin Roosevelt; that did not make me a Democrat.”

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Hard to Believe: Joe Gould and the Hard Sell

Hard to Believe: Joe Gould and the Hard Sell

By Aaron Lloyd

Ever since the first parcel of land was sectioned off for the purposes of staging a prizefight, the sport of boxing, in its various forms, has been a constant source of gratification for generations of fight fans.  More than just the exploits inside the ring however, boxing, with the help from its eccentric cast of characters, has provided numerous anecdotes of interest outside the ring as well, which have equally contributed to the historical significance and uniqueness of the sport. One such anecdote, as told by Budd Schulberg in his book Ringside: A Treasury of Boxing Reportage, concerns an unlikely conversion that took place between Joe Gould, the manager of heavyweight champion Jim Braddock, and Joseph Goebbels, the German propagandist for the Nazi Party, concerning a prospective matchup between the American champion and Deutschland’s favorite son, Max Schmeling.

After defeating Joe Louis in June of 1936, Max Schmeling returned home to Germany to a hero’s welcome, replete with patriotic songs, a ride on the Hindenburg, and a rousing endorsement from the Fuhrer himself, Adolf Hitler. Wanting to see the German get a return shot at the title, Hitler had his number one henchman and supreme toady, Joseph Goebbels, contact Joe Gould and “make him an offer he could not refuse,” regarding the staging of a bout in Berlin between Braddock and Schmeling. Gould, who was originally intrigued by the insistency of the German, played along and demanded $500,000 in cash up front, eight first class plane tickets, reimbursement for all training expenses, and complimentary lodging at Berlin’s finest, the Hotel Adlon. Without flinching or hesitation, Goebbels agreed to the terms set forth by Gould (even acquiescing to the appointment of an American referee), and for a time it looked as if the championship would be contested in Germany according to plan. However, just as the negotiations seemed to be progressing on a positive note, Gould casually insisted that he had one last “make or break” term to discuss. Goebbels listened intently as Gould stated plainly and in an unwavering tone, “I also want you to let all the Jews out of the concentration camps.” Now, according to Budd Schulberg, who had spoken to Gould firsthand about the conversion, the line immediately went dead, and hopes for a fight in Germany were extinguished accordingly. In fact, hopes of a Schmeling-Braddock bout, regardless of venue, were likely dashed that night because of Gould’s unyielding position on the matter.

As many boxing pundits know, Jim Braddock went on to defend his heavyweight title against Joe Louis in the summer of 1937, instead of Max Schmeling, and despite losing by knockout, the “Cinderella Man” made $250,000 for his eight rounds of work, forever freeing himself from the need to accept government assistance ever again. As for the crafty Joe Gould, not only did he succeed at thumbing his nose at Nazi idealism, but he also negotiated a deal that would entitle him to 10% of Joe Louis’ future earnings over the next ten years. Given the fact that Louis’ reign as champion would last more than eleven years, and account for more than $4million in earnings, Gould and Braddock both made out exceedingly well in the deal.

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