Max Schmeling

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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. He was ranked 55 on Ring Magazine's list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

While Schmeling cooperated with the German government's efforts to play down the increasingly negative international world view of its domestic policies during the 1930s he was not a member of the Nazi party. However, 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.[1]

During World War II Schmeling served with the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) as an elite paratrooper (Fallschirmjäger).[2]



In the USA, he was routinely cast by promoters as the cold-hearted, villainous invader, a puppet of Hitler and a hater of Jews. In Germany, Nazi propagandists portrayed him as a heroic symbol of German destiny and Aryan supremacy. In no way was Max Schmeling any of these things. He was a quality prizefighter with respectable boxing technique, a solid right hand punch, and a keen intellect. The clash of politics, ideals, and countries that often symbolically accompanied his biggest fights only took place within the perceptions of the audience; they had nothing to do with what happened in the ring. Instead of being respected for his multiple accomplishments in the ring, he spent much of his life derided in the USA as a Nazi and dismissed in Germany as a disappointment. It was only in his later life that his status as a fighter, apart from his cultural symbolism, could be clearly analyzed.

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