Maya Angelou (b. 1928), African American poet, autobiographer, and performer. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, ch. 19 (1970).
Remembering a world heavyweight championship fight of African American boxer Joe Louis (1914-1981), the defending champion, against Primo Carnera (1906-1967), a white Italian challenger and former heavyweight champion. Angelou's grandmother ran a store in the small, strictly segregated, brutally racist town of Stamps, Arkansas. Her family and neighbors crowded the store to listen to the fight on radio. At this point, Carnera had Louis on the ropes and was pummelling him. But Louis would fight back and prevail. Louis, who had won the championship in 1937 by defeating James J. Braddock, held it until his first retirement in 1949; he had defended the title successfully twenty-five times, scoring twenty-one knockouts. He returned to fighting in 1950 and retired permanently the following year, ironically after being knocked out by a white Italian-American: Rocky Marciano (1924-1969). It was only his third defeat in seventy-one professional fights.