In all, Louis made 25 defenses of his Heavyweight title from 1937 to 1948, and was a world champion for 11 years and 10 months. Both are still records in the heavyweight division, the former in any division. His most remarkable record is that he knocked out 23 opponents in 27 title fights, including 5 world champions. In addition to his accomplishments inside the ring, Louis uttered two of boxing's most famous observations: "He can run, but he can't hide" and "Everyone has a plan until they've been hit."
Louis is also remembered in sports outside of boxing. An indoor sports venue is named after him in Detroit, the Joe Louis Arena, where the Detroit Red Wings play their NHL games. In 1936, a beat writer for the Winnipeg Tribune used Joe Louis's nickname to refer to the Winnipeg Football Club after a game. From that point, the team became known popularly as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
His recognition also transcends the sporting world. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Joe Louis on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans. On August 26, 1982, Louis was posthumously approved for the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given to civilians by the U.S. legislative branch. Congress stated that he "did so much to bolster the spirit of the American people during one of the most crucial times in American history and which have endured throughout the years as a symbol of strength for the nation." Following Louis' death, President Ronald Reagan said, "Joe Louis was more than a sports legend -- his career was an indictment of racial bigotry and a source of pride and inspiration to millions of white and black people around the world."
A memorial to Louis was dedicated in Detroit (at Jefferson Avenue & Woodward) on October 16, 1986. The sculpture, commissioned by Time, Inc. and executed by Robert Graham, is a 24-foot-long (7.3 m) arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high (7.3 m) pyramidal framework. It represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of his efforts to fight Jim Crow laws, the fist was symbolically aimed toward the south.
In an interview with Arsenio Hall in the late 1980s, Muhammad Ali, stated that his two biggest influences in boxing were Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis.
On February 27, 2010, an 8-foot (2.4 m) bronze statue of Louis was unveiled in his Alabama hometown. The statue sits on a base of red granite outside the Chambers County Courthouse.
In 1993, he became the first boxer to be honored on a postage stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
Various other facilities have been named after Joe Louis. A street near Madison Square Garden is named in his honor. The former Pipe O' Peace Golf Course in Riverdale, Illinois, (a Chicago suburb) was in 1986 renamed "Joe Louis The Champ Golf Course." American Legion Post 375 in Detroit is also named after Joe Louis.
In one of the most widely quoted tributes to Louis, New York Post sportswriter Jimmy Cannon was known for the following statement (interjecting to another person's characterization of Louis as "a credit to his race"); "Yes, Joe Louis is a credit to his race—the human race."
In 2009, the band Yeasayer came out with a song titled "Ambling Alp" which imagines what advice Joe Louis's father might have given him prior to becoming a prizefighter. The song references adversities and opponents, including Max Schmeling and Primo Carnera, Louis had to overcome in his career.
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