Max Schmeling

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Max Schmeling
Heavyweight boxing world champion
Max Schmeling
Birth Name Maximilian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling
Weight class Heavyweight
nationality GermanyGermany German
birthday September 28, 1905
place of birth Little Luckow
Date of death February 2, 2005
Place of death Wenzendorf
style Left delivery
size 1.85 m
Combat Statistics
Struggles 70
Victories 56
Knockout victories 40
Defeats 10
draw 4th
Profile in the BoxRec database

Maximilian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling (born September 28, 1905 in Klein Luckow ; † February 2, 2005 in Wenzendorf , Harburg district ) was a German heavyweight boxer and between 1930 and 1932 heavyweight boxing world champion . Despite his victory over Joe Louis in 1936, he failed to make a comeback as a champion in the decisive second fight of 1938. To this day he is considered one of the most popular athletes in Germany.

Max Schmeling 1983 in Kiel


On September 28, 1905, Max Schmeling was born in Klein Luckow near Strasburg in the Uckermark as the son of Max and Amanda (née Fuchs) Schmeling. He had an older brother (Rudolf, * 1902) and a younger sister (Edith, * 1913).

In 1906 the family moved to Hamburg because the father was employed as a helmsman for the Hamburg-America Line . At first they lived in the St. Georg district. From 1911 at the latest, they lived at Lindleystraße 75 in Rothenburgsort . Max started school in the Stresowstraße elementary school in Rothenburgsort. When Max Schmeling was 13 years old, the family moved to the Eilbek district (to a house at Hasselbrookstrasse 14). He went to the nearby Ritterstrasse boys' school and was confirmed in the Friedenskirche by Pastor Wilhelm Reme. At his own request and after the parents intervened with the school authorities, Max attended the Rothenburgsort elementary school again after a short time. At the age of 14 Schmeling began a commercial apprenticeship in an "advertisement forwarding company", the advertising agency Wilkens (today Draftfcb Germany ).

Career beginnings

His interest in boxing was first aroused in 1921 when he saw a boxing film. In order to learn boxing properly, Max Schmeling went to the Rhineland a year later , the center of boxing in Germany at the time. Schmeling was employed as a worker in a Düsseldorf well construction company. His employer transferred him to Cologne-Mülheim in 1923 , where Schmeling joined the amateur boxing club SC Colonia 06 .

Professional career

Schmeling with Joe Jacobs
Memorial plaque on the house at Brixplatz 9, in Berlin-Westend

On August 2, 1924 Schmeling began his professional boxing career with a fight against Hans Czapp in the Tonhalle in Düsseldorf , which led him to New York at an early stage and several times - the stronghold of professional boxing at the time. There he was represented by the local manager Joe Jacobs. On August 24, 1926 Schmeling became German light heavyweight champion by beating Max Diekmann .

In 1927 Max Schmeling won his first major title; in the fight against the Belgian Fernand Delarge in the Dortmund Westfalenhalle , he became European champion . From his purse he bought a Harley Davidson with a sidecar ; During a trip with his mother and sister in July, Schmeling had an accident in which his sister Edith died at the age of 14.

In 1928 he went to New York with his German manager Arthur Bülow, “to conquer the world”. But Bülow had no connections, and so Schmeling did not get a fight at first. That only changed when he turned to manager "Joe" (actually Yussel) Jacobs. Jacobs was the manager of Ted Moore, a British boxer who defeated the 17-year-old Schmeling in Hamburg in 1922 in an amateur fight. Joe Jacobs, son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary from the East Side of New York knew nothing about boxing, but knew a lot about publicity: "You have to be in the newspaper every day".

Joe gave Schmeling the battle name "The Black Ulan from the Rhine" and ordered him to charity events and sights. Since then, there has always been a photographer with us, no matter what Schmeling did: five fights later, on June 12, 1930, Max Schmeling fought Jack Sharkey for the vacant world heavyweight title. It was the second major sporting event to be broadcast live on the radio. After an illegal low blow to his opponent in the fourth round, Schmeling was unable to continue fighting, but was declared world champion because of Sharkey's disqualification . To this day Schmeling is the only world champion who received his title by disqualifying his opponent.

On July 3, 1931, he defended his title by technical knockout in the 15th round against the American Young Stribling . On June 21, 1932 there was a rematch against Sharkey in New York. After 15 rounds, the American was awarded victory on points and thus the world title.

The bridal couple Max Schmeling and Anny Ondra

In 1930 Max Schmeling met the German- Czech film actress Anny Ondra . Ondra founded the Ondra Lamac film company in Germany in 1930 with her friend Karel Lamač . On July 6, 1933, Schmeling and Ondra married in Bad Saarow , where in the same year he had acquired the summer house of the expressionist painter Bruno Krauskopf, who had fled into exile from the Nazis . After her wedding, the silent film diva made only a few films.

On August 26, 1934 Schmeling defeated Walter Neusel (1907–1964) in Hamburg. The fight was attended by 100,000 people, which is still the largest crowd at a boxing event in Europe. Boxing promoter Walter Rothenburg organized this fight . The next spring he had the Hanseatenhalle in Hamburg-Rothenburgsort set up in 42 days for a fight by Schmeling against the American Steve Hamas . It was the largest sports hall, it offered 25,000 people, the Madison Square Garden only 20,000. Schmeling's victory over Hamas enabled Schmeling to gain a foothold in America as a boxer and face Joe Louis .

The Nazis called Schmeling on in 1935, to part with his Czech wife, and his Jewish manager Joe Jacobs in America and to distance himself from his Jewish friends. He rejected the demands. Because of the Nuremberg Laws and the anti-Semitism prevailing in Germany , the American Olympic Committee considered boycotting the Olympic Games in Berlin . As the most internationally known German athlete, Schmeling was part of the campaign organized by the Propaganda Ministry to convince Americans to participate. Schmeling later described this advocacy as "limitless naivete ".

Schmeling's most famous fight, however, was not about a world championship. On June 19, 1936, he fought in New York against the "brown bomber" Joe Louis , who was considered unbeatable at the time, but was not yet world champion (27 fights, 27 wins). Schmeling analyzed his opponent's films and found a weak point: Louis dropped his left hand after the blow, which provided space for a counterattack. When asked about his chances in an interview, he said “ I have seen something. ”(German:“ I saw something. ”) - a sentence that has become a popular phrase in US boxing. In the fight, which was also broadcast directly to Germany on the radio, Schmeling surprised the boxing world by being able to hit Louis hard early on and then knocking him out in the 12th round. From a German point of view, this result was the biggest surprise in boxing up to then, even without a world championship title, and was politically abused by Nazi propaganda as “proof of the superiority of the Aryan race”. On Hitler's instructions, the fight was shown in the cinemas under the title “Max Schmeling's Victory - a German Victory”.

Max Schmeling 1930

By defeating Joe Louis, Max Schmeling had become the challenger to the reigning world champion Jim Braddock . Since Braddock was considered a rather weak "chance world champion", Schmeling's chances were good to be the first boxer to break the "unwritten law" ("They never come back"), according to which a beaten heavyweight world champion could never win back his title. The title fight was scheduled for July 1937. However, Jimmy Braddock did not show up for the weigh-in, which is why the New York Boxing Commission fined him $ 1,000. The real background to the absence was revealed a little later. Braddock had long since signed a contract for a title fight with Joe Louis. A secret additional clause secured him a commission of ten percent from all income from his opponent for a period of ten years. As expected, Joe Louis defeated Braddock and then defended his title 25 times.

In June 1938 Schmeling got - again in New York - the second chance to become world champion, as Joe Louis sought a rematch against the only man who had beaten him. Schmeling was seen by both the German and the international side as a representative of the now increasingly established Nazi regime . Schmeling himself, at least according to his own statement, always kept his distance from Nazi ideology. During the November pogroms of 1938 he had also given shelter to two Jews in his hotel room and through his connections saved the heavyweight boxer Heinz Lazek from arrest for so-called “ racial disgrace ”, which gave the fight an extremely explosive political dimension. This time Louis no longer made the mistake of the deep-set left hand, struck long straights to Schmeling's head, and drove him back at the beginning of the round. After about a minute, Louis landed a hit on Schmeling's left kidney, shortly afterwards another decisive head hit. Schmeling went down several times, but got up again and again before the fight was finally broken off by the intervention of Schmeling's trainer Max Machon . Louis won confidently in the first round. This was Schmeling's last boxing match in the USA.

On July 2, 1939 Schmeling won the European heavyweight championship against Adolf Heuser . This boxing match was Schmeling's last for the time being. In the same year he bought the Ponickel manor near Rummelsburg in Pomerania. Schmeling invested the proceeds of his struggles in the small estate, and it became a real home for him and his wife.

In the independent, eternal computer world rankings BoxRec , he is listed as No. 23 of the best boxers of all time in the heavyweight division.

Military service

Schmeling as a paratrooper in a Ju 52
Schmeling after his injury in the hospital in Athens

In 1940 Schmeling was drafted into the Wehrmacht and used as a paratrooper . He was on May 20, 1941 in the first attack on the Mediterranean island of Crete, which was defended by Great Britain ( airborne battle for Crete ), and was injured on landing. He was treated in the military hospital in Athens and then written "nicht-kv" (not fit for military service). In an interview with an American newspaper Schmeling said there had been no British or Greek violations of martial law in Crete. He wanted the war to end soon. That brought him into contradiction with the Wehrmacht leadership.

Because of his injury, Schmeling was released from the Wehrmacht on Easter 1943 and was used as a guard in prisoner-of-war camps until the end of the war . In 1945 he is said to have tried to persuade Anglo-American soldiers to support a joint fight against the Soviet Union in a camp.


In 1945 Max Schmeling fled Pomerania with his wife and lived in Hamburg from 1946. He was imprisoned for three months because of false information, but was considered unencumbered after the denazification process. On January 22, 1947, the US military government in Germany gave him boxing permission for the American zone of occupation . Financial hardship forced him to get back into the ring on September 28, 1947 after eight years. On October 31, 1948, Max Schmeling played his last fight in Berlin against Richard Vogt from Hamburg , which he lost on points. Schmeling's combat statistics are 56 wins in 70 professional fights (40 of them by knockout), 10 defeats and 4 draws. As a referee, he initially remained connected to boxing.

After the career

Max Schmeling postage stamp, 2005

With his great rival Joe Louis , he had a casual friendship until his death in 1981. He supported the financially distressed Louis when he had to pay back taxes because the tax investigators objected to his "political" donations during his time in the army. Finally Schmeling contributed to his funeral expenses in a gesture of human bond.

Can still be seen today: Coca-Cola advertisement with Max Schmeling on a building in Montevideo

After his boxing career, Schmeling and his wife Anny Ondra settled in Wenzendorf near Hamburg and ran the general agency for Coca-Cola products in Hamburg-Bramfeld and in Gomaringen , Tübingen district . In 1965 Schmeling resigned from the church in protest against the " Ostdenkschrift " of the Evangelical Church, which warned to question the German claim to the areas beyond the Oder-Neisse border. Max Schmeling got involved in the team of the Augsburg benefit football team Datschiburger Kickers , which is committed to fundraising for charitable purposes.

Schmeling memorial in Benneckenstein
Schmeling monument by sculptor Carsten Eggers in Hollenstedt
Bronze bust (2006) by the sculptor Falko Steimer from Torgelow for his birthplace and memorial in Klein Luckow

In addition, he also made some generous donations to his place of residence Hollenstedt (to which the municipality of Wenzendorf - in which he lived - belongs) - e.g. For example, he paid for a 70 m long and 7 m high water slide for the Hollenstedt open-air swimming pool and financially supported the local sports clubs (e.g. through a larger sum to build another sports hall). In 1971 Max Schmeling was awarded the Great Federal Cross of Merit, and in 1977 his autobiography “Memories” was published. He suffered a severe blow of fate when his wife died on February 28, 1987.

In 1991 the charitable Max Schmeling Foundation was set up. In the same year, Schmeling was the first and so far only German to be inducted into the " International Boxing Hall of Fame ", the boxing sport's hall of fame. In his honor, a multi-purpose hall in Berlin, which was originally designed as a boxing hall for the 2000 Olympics, was named Max-Schmeling-Halle (opening with Schmeling on December 14, 1996). On the occasion of his 99th birthday in 2004, the Austrian Post issued a stamp with Schmeling's portrait valued at 0.55 euros. His approximately eight hectare property was to be transferred to his home community Wenzendorf (member community of the joint community of Hollenstedt) after his death. The couple enjoyed the country life and ran a chicken farm and mink breeding in addition to the national beverage bottling .

On February 2, 2005, Max Schmeling died at the age of 99 from a severe cold in his home town of Hollenstedt. The official memorial service took place on March 1st, 2005 in Hamburg's "Michel" (St. Michaelis Church). Among the mourners were the boxers Henry Maske and Wladimir Klitschko , Uwe Seeler , Michael Stich , Franz Beckenbauer , Friede Springer , Ole von Beust and Otto Schily . He found his final resting place in the Hollenstedt cemetery next to his wife Anny Ondra. On the occasion of his death, on March 1st, the day of the funeral service for the boxing legend, Österreichische Post AG issued a special stamp with the Schmeling portrait of George Grosz worth 1 euro.

Main fights

date place opponent Result competition
August 2, 1924 Düsseldorf, Tonhalle Johann Czapp (Düsseldorf) Victory, 6th round tko
February 20, 1925 Cologne Jack Dempsey (USA) no decision, 2 rounds. Exhibition fight
August 24, 1926 Berlin, Lunapark Max Dieckmann (Berlin) Victory, 1st round knockout DM light heavyweight
June 19, 1927 Dortmund, Westfalenhalle Fernand Delarge (BEL) Victory, 14th round tko EM light heavyweight
November 8, 1927 Leipzig, Achilleion Hein Domgörgen (Cologne) Victory, 7th round knockout EM and DM light heavyweight
January 6, 1928 Berlin, Sports Palace Michele Bonaglia (ITA) Victory, 1st round knockout EM light heavyweight
April 4, 1928 Berlin, Sports Palace Franz Diener (Berlin) Victory, 15 rounds after pt. DM heavyweight
November 24, 1928 New York City, Madison Square Garden Joe Monte (USA) Victory, 8th round knockout
January 4, 1929 New York City, Madison Square Garden Joe Sekyra (USA) Victory, 10 rounds after pt.
January 22, 1929 Newark , Armory Hall Pietro Corri (USA) Victory, 1st round knockout
February 1, 1929 New York City, Madison Square Garden Johnny Risko (USA) Victory, 9th round tko
June 27, 1929 New York City, Yankee Stadium Paolino Uzcudun (ESP) Victory, 15 rounds after pt. World Cup elimination match
June 12, 1930 New York City, Yankee Stadium Jack Sharkey (USA) Victory, 4th lap. Dsq. World Championship heavyweight
July 3, 1931 Cleveland , Municipal Stadium Young Stribling (USA) Victory, 15th round tko World Championship heavyweight
June 21, 1932 Long Island , Madison Square Garden Bowl Jack Sharkey (USA) Defeat, 15 rounds after pt. World Championship heavyweight
September 26, 1932 Long Island, Madison Square Garden Bowl Mickey Walker (USA) Victory, 8th round tko World Cup elimination match
June 8, 1933 New York City, Yankee Stadium Max Baer (USA) Defeat, 10th round tko World Cup elimination match
February 13, 1934 Philadelphia , Convention Hall Steve Hamas (USA) Defeat, 12 rounds after pt.
June 13, 1934 Barcelona, Estadi Olímpic de Montjuïc Paulino Uzcudun (ESP) unent., 12 rounds
August 26, 1934 Hamburg , dirt track train Walter Neusel (Bochum) Victory, 9th round tko
March 10, 1935 Hamburg, Hanseatenhalle Steve Hamas (USA) Victory, 9th round tko
July 7, 1935 Berlin, Poststadion Paolino Uzcudun (ESP) Victory, 12 rounds after pt.
June 19, 1936 New York City, Yankee Stadium Joe Louis (USA) Victory, 12th round knockout World Cup elimination match
December 13, 1937 New York City, Madison Square Garden Harry Thomas (USA) Victory, 8th round knockout
January 30, 1938 Hamburg, Hanseatenhalle Ben Foord (RSA) Victory, 12 rounds after pt.
April 16, 1938 Hamburg, Hanseatenhalle Steve Dudas (USA) Victory, 6th round knockout
June 22, 1938 New York City, Yankee Stadium Joe Louis (USA) Defeat, 1st round tko World Championship heavyweight
July 2, 1939 Stuttgart, Adolf-Hitler-Kampfbahn Adolf Heuser (Bonn) Victory, 1st round knockout EM heavyweight



From 1932 Max Schmeling was the model for the sculptor Josef Thorak , his neighbor in Bad Saarow-Pieskow . This resulted in the 3.75 m high bronze sculpture "Pugilist", which was erected in the spring of 1936 on the Reichssportfeld (today Olympic Park Berlin) in the so-called Anger.

In 2006 a bronze bust was made by the sculptor Falko Steimer from Torgelow for his birthplace and memorial in Klein Luckow.



  • My life - my struggles. Grethlein, Leipzig, Zurich 1930.
  • 8-9-off . Ullstein, Berlin 1957.
  • I punched my way through life. Franckh, Stuttgart 1967.
  • Memories. Ullstein, Berlin 1982, ISBN 3-550-07473-5 .
  • Memories. Audio book. Screen Media 2008.


See also

Literature & media



  • The fight of the century - Max Schmeling versus Joe Louis. A boxing musical by Paul Graham Brown (music) and James Edward Lyons (book).

Cinematic reception

Over the years Schmeling has been portrayed by numerous actors in film and television. He was portrayed, among other things, in 1953 in The Brown Bomber (The Joe Louis Story) by William Thourlby . While he was played by Stephen Macht in the 1978 television film Ring of Passion , other actors have taken over the role of the former international boxing star in recent years. He was portrayed by Mark Simmons in the television film Rocky Marciano (1999), and Til Schweiger took on the role in Joe & Max (2002) . This was followed by the use of Henry Maske in the film Max Schmeling (2010).

Web links

Commons : Max Schmeling  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Max Schmeling  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


Radio recordings

Individual evidence

  1. Background The life stations of Max Schmeling: Max Schmeling's life and work at a glance. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine . February 4, 2005, accessed February 12, 2014 .
  2. Hamburg address book 1911. Herrmanns Erben, Hamburg 1911, p. IV / 442 ( Accessed June 28, 2019).
  3. a b Walk to school with the teacher. In: Hamburger Abendblatt , August 17, 1977, accessed on June 28, 2019.
  4. ^ History of SC Colonia 06 ( Memento from February 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), club website, accessed on September 29, 2012
  5. Max Schmeling: It was the time of the heavy motorcycles, and everyone dreamed of the heavy Harley-Davidsons . (Max Schmeling, 1927). In: memories . 1977 ( online [accessed November 30, 2015]). It was the era of heavy motorcycles, and everyone dreamed of heavy Harley-Davidsons ( Memento from August 11, 2014 on the Internet Archive )
  6. Ted Moore on BoxRec Wiki
  7. ^ Arnd Krüger : The Olympic Games 1936 and the world opinion. Its importance in foreign policy, with particular reference to the USA. Sports science work, Vol. 7 Berlin: Bartels & Wernitz 1972
  8. Holger Schück: "The heart of a boxer" - On the death of the German boxing legend Max Schmeling, DeutschlandRadio Berlin; Sunday, February 6, 2005 - 30'00 airtime
  9. eastsideboxing
  10. Interview with one of the two rescued: "Max is very deep in our hearts." In Welt am Sonntag of December 5, 2004. (On November 9, 1938, the father of Henri J. and Werner Lewin (15 and 16 years old) David Lewin asked Max Schmeling, who is his friend, for help for his sons. Schmeling called She went to his suite in the Hotel Excelsior for three days and then took her back to her father in his car in the middle of the night past uniformed men. Four days later the family was able to emigrate to Shanghai. The article also contains a report from the 1989 thanksgiving ceremony in Las Vegas - Text: Jessica Almond; accessed Feb. 2, 2015.)
  11. ^ Krauss, Martin: Schmeling obituary: Boxer, Legende, Menschenfreund , Spiegel Online on February 4, 2005, accessed on March 21, 2013.
  12. Ranking list of heavyweight boxers , accessed on May 13, 2018
  13. The Boxidol and the Multipurpose Hall - Official opening of the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Berlin. Retrieved August 11, 2016 .
  14. AP: Funeral service for Max Schmeling: Farewell to an idol . March 1, 2005 ( [accessed June 10, 2019]).
  15. ^ Boxing legend Max Schmeling is quietly buried. In: February 4, 2005, accessed May 23, 2017.
  16. Review: Beyond Glory by Joyce Carol Oates , New York Times , October 2, 2005
  17. ^ The fight of the century on, accessed on November 25, 2015
  18. all film information according to the Max Schmeling character profile in the IMDb