STATUS: Former World Heavyweight Champion June 12, 1930 – June 21, 1932. Born on Sept. 28, 1905 – passed away Feb. 2, 2005.
BIRTHPLACE: Klein Luckaw, Brandenburg, Germany.
CHILDHOOD HEROES: “Jack Dempsey, my idol. He combined excellent boxing skills with a tremendous punch. Like some fighter from another galaxy. Dempsey used a style of technique and tactics. While before the emphasis was on pure punching. Growing up in Hamburg, I was intrigued when one of the local movie theatres advertised a film about the World Heavyweight Championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier (age 15). The film impressed me so much. I saw it every evening for a week. I couldn’t restrain my enthusiasm at home. Dempsey scored his spectacular KO in the 4th round (1921). A few days later I bought my first boxing gloves at a second-hand store. I still remember bringing home the worn and patched gloves and how I hung them over my bed like a sacred relic.”
HOBBIES/INTERESTS: “Play cards each Wednesday afternoon with friends, read, watch TV, follow the careers of the Klitschko brothers.”
NICKNAME: The Black Uhlan.
CHILDHOOD DREAM: “For a while I thought I’d become the soccer goalkeeper for the championship Nuremberg team.”
PRE-FIGHT FEELING: “Everything became secondary to training. From the very start it was clear to me that achievement was built on discipline. No one reached their goals easily – inventor or businessman. Accomplishment in sports demands the commitment of one’s entire self – morally, intellectually, spiritually. Discipline over the body alone doesn’t make a great athlete. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, live life according to a strict diet. And not just with respect to food. A slight delay in reaction time, a let down in exact timing, a deficient punch or the famous glass jaw can cost one a career despite all the sacrifice. In the ring as elsewhere, it’s intelligence that is the decisive factor. With tactics and strategy, even a less physically gifted boxer can outmaneuver a giant.”
EARLY BOXING MEMORY: “My first pro fight, 1924. My opponent’s name was Hans Czapp, a local boy from Dusseldorf. I wasn’t boxing for sports glory – my very existence was being staked on whether I would win or lose. After six rounds I was awarded the victory by KO. The win brought me my first notoriety in local newspapers. I cut out the articles and sent them to my parents.”
FAVORITE MOVIES: “Charlie Chaplin films, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Gregory Peck and Douglas Fairbanks films.”
MUSICAL TASTES: “Leopold Stokowski, Michael Bohnen, Heinrich Schlusnus, Richard Tauber.”
GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: “Really no single event comes to mind when I think back. It was more the larger fight as an experience of putting one’s own existence on the line. Of making life an adventure. Of course, boxing was my world. I owe to it everything that I am. When I look back, it is less the individual fights that emerge before my inner eye. But rather the satisfaction that from early on, I was able to take my life into my own hands and make something of it.”
FUNNY MEMORY: “I tried to get into the spirit of the war of words. We had a lot of fun trying to come up with the most swaggering threats but I couldn’t get into the tearing down of the opponent, as part of the American pre-fight hype. One reporter was trying to provoke me into a more hostile tone before the Sharkey fight (1930). I finally laughed, What do you want me to say? Will you finally be satisfied if I say that I eat Sharkey every morning for breakfast, with or without kraut?”
TOUGHEST OPPONENT(S): “Joe Louis. He threw almost exclusively lefts. His left hand was the hardest and most versatile I had ever seen. Louis worked superbly. His movements were fast, cool, harmonious. When he landed with his full power, I felt the force of the punch down to my toes.”
HARDEST PUNCHER: “Max Diekmann. He caught me in the ear with one of his hooks. And it started to bleed immediately. My corner couldn’t stop the bleeding. They stopped the fight two rounds later.”