Germans say goodbye to Max Schmeling

1st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2005, HAMBURG - Over a thousand people, including many prominent figures from the world of sport, business and politics gathered at the church of St. Michaelis in Hamburg on Tuesday for a memorial mass for boxing legend Max Schmeling. Schmeling, the only undisputed professional boxing champion in Germany's history, died on 2 February in Hollenstedt near Hamburg at the age of 99. Schmeling, who was born 28 September 1905 in the village of Klein-Luckow and raised in Hamburg held the world heavyweight

1 March 2005

HAMBURG - Over a thousand people, including many prominent figures from the world of sport, business and politics gathered at the church of St. Michaelis in Hamburg on Tuesday for a memorial mass for boxing legend Max Schmeling.

Schmeling, the only undisputed professional boxing champion in Germany's history, died on 2 February in Hollenstedt near Hamburg at the age of 99.

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

"The undisputed champion was also a champion of fair play," said Interior Minister Otto Schily in his speech to the congregation. "A true gentleman has left us."

Among the guests at the 75-minute service, were German footballing heroes Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler, former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko and ex-tennis star Michael Stich.

Schily also remembered the hard times in Schmeling's career when the Nazi regime tried to use his sporting success for propaganda purposes while church minister Stephan Reimers also reflected on the situation in which Schmeling found himself in during his career.

"The lost war, the reparations because of Versailles and inflation had depressed the people and made them deeply insecure," he said.

"Perhaps one can say that the unstoppable career of boxer Max Schmeling in the time of (the) Weimar (Republic) gave a similar lifting feeling as the football miracle of Bern 1954 (when West Germany won the World Cup). Both were a healer for the soul of a disoriented nation."

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

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

DPA

Subject: German news

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