Maximillian “Max” Schmeling was born in Klein Luckow, Germany on September 28, 1905. He began his professional career in 1924. Following his 1926 German light heavyweight title and 1928 German heavyweight title, Schmeling sought more challenging opponents in the United States. Talented fighters such as Paolino Uzcudun and Johnny Risko were no match for Schmeling. In 1930, Schmneling defeated Jack Sharkey to become the first European to earn the world heavyweight title.
After studying footage of Joe Louis, Schmeling defeated Louis in 12 rounds in 1936. The subsequent rematch between the two boxers came to be a symbolic, politically-charged event—with both Franklin Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler meeting with their corresponding boxers. Schmeling, who did not agree with Nazi ideology, lost to Louis. Despite the defeat, the two boxers developed a strong friendship. After brief service in the German Army in World War II, Schmeling boxed until 1948, ending his career with 55 wins in 70 fights. He passed away in his native Germany in 2005.