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The world heavyweight boxing champion from June 22, 1937, until March 1, 1949, Joe Louis held the title longer than anyone else in history.
Joe Louis - Musical Fighter (1:15)
Watch a short video about boxer Joe Luis and how he went from violin practice to being a champion boxer.
Opened in 1913, the Hotel Theresa was considered the "Waldorf Astoria of Harlem" welcoming famous African-Americans, such as Joe Louis and Lena Horne, who were turned away from "whites only" hotels.
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The years after his retirement from the ring proved uneven for Louis. He was still a revered American figure,
but money was a constant issue for him. In an effort to find some footing he tried out a number of careers. He wrestled and partnered with a rival in setting up a chain of interracial food shops.
In 1970 his wife Martha committed Louis to a psychiatric hospital in Colorado because of his cocaine addiction and paranoia. He was later confined to a wheelchair following surgery to correct an aortic aneurism.
When he passed away from a heart attack on April 12, 1981, Louis, who married four times in his life and had two children, was working as an "official greeter" at Caesars Palace.
Louis was inducted to the Ring Magazine Boxing Hall of Fame in 1954 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1982 he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
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