As I was reading about Joe Lewis and his victorious title bout against heavyweight boxing champion Jersey Joe back on this day in sports history, I realized how valued athletes are to this country. They are so huge in our minds we don’t realize it most of the time.
Case in point; in 1935 when Benito Mussolini was the powerful dictator over Fascist Italy, Louis fought former heavyweight champion Primo Carnera who was viewed as Mussolini’s ambassador. In reality this fight had nothing to do with the USA battling Fascist Italy, but in the minds of boxing fans, and frankly even those who weren’t fans of boxing, this was US against them, it was about Joe Lewis, the American battling Carnera and his evil empire.
Once again in 1938 Lewis had the same effect on us when he fought a German named Max Schmeling who was viewed by many Americans as Hitler’s top Nazi. Of course Max was not a Nazi, only a great boxer, but in the mind of fans it was once more, us against them, Joe Lewis against Nazi Germany and once again the hero was Joe Lewis. I think Joe may have helped Americans sleep a little better at times.