Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Marciano vs. Louis In The Mess Hall

A few days ago I saw two restaurant workers shadow boxing in Downtown Houston. This reminded me of a story my father once told me about his time in the army.

My father was in one of the early desegregated army units. President Harry Truman desegregated the army in 1948. What my father related took place around 1950.

My father said he used to shadow box with a black solider in the mess hall. Dad, an Italian, would pretend he was Rocky Marciano and the other guy would imagine himself as Joe Louis. 

( The photo is of Louis in the army. It comes from the National Archives. Louis got a raw deal from the army. He was forced to pay taxes on money he had donated to the troops from some of his fights.)

My father had seen Marciano fight in Providence, Rhode Island in the 1940’s.  

My father said the other soldiers did not know what to make of the play-fighting. He said they were sometimes concerned that the fighting was real. I guess I can infer that not much mixing between the races took place at the time. 

Recent stories have discussed a decline in black enlistment in the army since the Iraq War. Black Americans don’t want to die for nothing in George Bush’s war in Iraq.

I’m not sure what blacks had to fight for in Korea back in 1950—Though at least Harry Truman had done something for them. To this day my father does not know why he was in Korea. 

Louis and Marciano fought each other once. In 1951, Marciano knocked out Louis. This would be the last fight for Louis.   


August 24, 2007 - Posted by | Best Posts July-Dec. 2007, Books, History

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