I am an avid reader of World War II era history. This guy was a large part of the politics in sports in the early years. I just found out he died. Wow!
One of the boxing world's most famous champions, and one of Germany's most cherished sports legends, Max Schmeling, died this week at the age of 99.Anyone who reads about the war has had to touch upon the subject of the 36 Berlin Olympics to understand the pre-war period better. Well a major player from back then died this week.
Dominating in the ring, quiet and generous outside of it, Max Schmeling won one of the most storied bouts in boxing history and praise for his quiet resistance against Hitler and the Nazis.
"Looking back I'm almost happy I lost that fight," Schmeling said in 1975, according to the Associated Press. "Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal."
When the Nazis terrorized Germany's Jewish population during Kristallnacht in 1938, Schmeling hid the sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin in his hotel room. His refusal to join the Nazi party annoyed Hitler who drafted him into a Paratroopers unit and sent him on dangerous missions.
Though he fought a few bouts after the war, he was never able to repeat his success and retired in 1948 with a record of 56-10-4, with 39 knockouts. He bought the Coca-Cola franchise the same year and settled down with his wife, a Czech actress he had married in 1932. Anny Ondra died in 1987.
He became one of Germany's most generous philanthropists and even supported Joe Louis, who had fallen on tough times. When Louis died in 1981, Schmeling reportedly paid for the funeral.
"I had a happy marriage and a nice wife," said Schmeling in 1985. "I accomplished everything you can. What more can you want?"