Sport: The Man Who Wasn't Afraid

Only two minutes had gone by in the first round. There was a sharp exchange of blows, and Joe Louis, the world champion, fell backwards and landed on the seat of his purple pants. The crowd caught its breath, and then yelled. At the count of two, Big Joe got up again. But the 18,194 cash customers in Madison Square Garden had seen a rare sight—Joe Louis floored in the first round.

Some of the thousands had paid $30 for seats euphemistically marked "ringside." They didn't really expect to see a fight. They had come...

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