German boxing legend Max Schmeling dies

4th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

4 February 2005, HAMBURG -German sports icon Max Schmeling, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, died on Wednesday and was buried on Friday, the Max Schmeling foundation announced. He was 99. The foundation said that Schmeling died in his house in Hollenstedt in northern Germany and that a memorial service in Hamburg's St. Michaelis church was being prepared. Schmeling, who was born September 28, 1905 in the village of Klein-Luckow and raised in Hamburg, is the only world heavyweight boxing champion


4 February 2005

HAMBURG -German sports icon Max Schmeling, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, died on Wednesday and was buried on Friday, the Max Schmeling foundation announced. He was 99.

The foundation said that Schmeling died in his house in Hollenstedt in northern Germany and that a memorial service in Hamburg's St. Michaelis church was being prepared.

Schmeling, who was born September 28, 1905 in the village of Klein-Luckow and raised in Hamburg, is the only world heavyweight boxing champion from Germany. He held the title 1930-1932 and then famously knocked out Joe Louis in 1936.

"He was the most popular German athlete of all times. His fame never dropped because he was so unique and so normal at the same time," said Hamburg major Ole von Beust.

German Olympic Committee president Klaus Steinbach said: "In Schmeling we lose one of the biggest, if not the biggest sports leader as far as role models are concerned. He was one of very few German heroes of a century."

The Bild daily said on its website, www.bild.de, that Schmeling died of a cold he caught around Christmas. Bild said that he was in a coma for three days and died on Wednesday afternoon.

Bild said he was buried next to his wife on a cemetary in Hollenstedt and that the memorial service with German President Horst Koehler will take place around 22 February.

Schmeling won the title in 1930 when American opponent Jack Sharkey was disqualified for hitting low, defended it in 1931 against William Young Stribling before losing it in 1932 on points against Sharkey.

But Schmeling gained the most fame in a non-title bout in 1936 when he knocked out Joe Louis in the 12th round in front of a 42,088-strong crowd in New York's Yankee stadium. Louis got his revenge two years later when he floored Schmeling in the first round.

Schmeling fought 70 times, winning 56, drawing four and losing 10 in his professional career 1924-1948.

He was worshipped as a hero in Germany throughout his life but was also misused as a propaganda tool by the Nazi regime, something he regretted later, saying he had been naive.

But he resisted Nazi demands to divorce his wife, Czech actress Anny Ondran, hid two Jewish children during the 1938 pogrom night and later helped Jews and Nazi opponents escape deportation.

In his later days he was rarely seen in public after his wife died in 1987.

Schmeling presided over a soft drink company in Hamburg he founded in 1957. In 1991, he founded the charitable Max Schmeling foundation which supports a number of projects.

Back in 1987 the German sports media voted him the country's "all-time greatest sportsman". Schmeling is the only German featured in the boxing Hall of Fame en entered in 1992. 

DPA

Subject: German news

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