Sunday, December 10, 2006

Joe Louis Trivia

Get rid of that violin, boy!”
Joe Barrow was seven years old when his family moved from rural Alabama to bustling Detroit. He’d only received sporadic schooling back home, and so he was placed back a grade in his Michigan school. Discouraged, Joe dropped out in the seventh grade. He took a job at a local ice company, and spent his days heaving 50-lb. blocks of ice into delivery trucks. His mother fretted, and wanted her son to make something of himself. She decided that music was a respectable profession with good financial prospects in the future, so she took in laundry in order to pay for violin lessons for Joe.
One afternoon, a schoolmate was headed towards the Brewster Recreational Center to box, and asked Joe if he’d like to come and spar with him. Joe spent the 50 cents his mother had given him for his music lesson on a locker in which to stash his violin. The friend, Thurston McKinney, was a local Golden Gloves champ. So when Joe almost knocked him out, he exclaimed, “Get rid of that violin, boy! You belong in the ring!”
Joe, who’d already become weary of being called “sissy” by his classmates because he carried a violin, enjoyed the accoutrements of the gym – the punching bag, the pulleys, the exercise mat. He’d already built up some considerable arm strength by hauling all that ice, so he signed up for some amateur matches. He originally fought using his first and middle names, so that his mother wouldn’t find out what he was up to. But when she did eventually get wise, she gave her son – who was now known as Joe Louis – her blessing.