BORN 28 Sep 1905, Klein-Luckow, Brandenburg - DIED 2 Feb 2005, Hollenstedt-Wenzenburg, Niedersachsen|
BIRTH NAME Schmeling, Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried
GRAVE LOCATION Hollenstedt, Niedersachsen: St. Andreas Friedhof, Max Schmelingstrasse
Max Schmeling was educated for a commercial profession but became interested in boxing after he saw a boxing movie in 1921. He started his professional boxing career in 1924. In 1930 he won the vacant world heavyweight championship after his opponent Jack Sharkey was disqualified for knocking Schmeling down with a low blow. Schmeling inherited the title from Gene Tunney who had retired. In 1932 he lost his title to Max Baer. He met Hitler and Goebbels but he didn't join the nazi party. On 6 Jul 1933 he married the popular Czech actress Anny Ondra. In 1935 the nazis urged him to divorce her and break with his Jewish manager Joe Jacobs but he refused both. Schmeling carried out the order of his government to convince the Americans that they shouldn't boycot the Olympic Games of 1936 and later stated that he had been naive.
In 1936 he scored a KO victory against Joe Louis and in nazi Germany this was explained as a victory for the Arian race. But Louis instead of Schmeling was allowed to challenge then champion Jim Braddock and won. In 1938 Schmeling challenged Louis but he was knocked out in the first round. Joseph Goebbels sent him a consoling note, but alltough Schmeling won the European Championship in 1939 the nazis weren't interested in him anymore. During the war he served as a paratrooper. He was wounded in Greece in 1941 and after his recovery he retired from active service. After the war he needed money and resumed his boxing career. He won three of his five fights until he quit boxing forever in 1948.
He settled with Anny in Wenzendorf near Hamburg and in the 1950s he worked for Coca Cola in Germany and he owned his own bottling plant. He remained on friendly terms with his former opponent Louis, supported him financially in later years and even helped to pay for his funeral in 1981. In 1987 his wife died and Schmeling, now a wealthy man, lived on until 2005. The Max-Schmeling Halle in Berlin is named after him.
Wife: Ondra, Anny (1933-1987, Bad Saarow)