Born May 12, 1914, in LaFayette, Alabama, Joseph Louis Barrow - who became known as the "Brown Bomber" - was America's first true crossover athlete. As the first black sports star worshipped by both black and white fans, he was respected not only for his boxing talents, but also for showing the world what a person of color could do if given the opportunity. When he fought, the world stood still.
The film underscores his importance during a critical time in America's history. From the Great Depression through World War II and into the 1950s, Joe Louis was the poster boy for the American way of life. In 1938, when Louis defeated Germany's Max Schmeling, his victory was interpreted as democracy's defeat of Nazism, boosting public morale and transforming him into a true American hero.