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Remembering Joe Louis By Promoting Tourism

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Joe Louis Barrow, the legendary "Brown Bomber," was born in LaFayette in 1914. He's considered by many the greatest heavyweight champ of all-time, with a 68-3 record and winning with 54 knockouts.

"He'd stand flat-footed and box. He didn't run around. He knocked people out. That's what he did," said Arthur Shealey, Louis' third cousin.

It was here at age nine, just before he moved to Detroit, when Louis' family first noticed he had a gift. He was trying to milk a cow when it suddenly kicked him off his stool.

"He jumped up and hit the cow in the side with his fists and broke three of the cow's ribs. That's when they kind of knew he was unusual for the strength," Shealey said.

In an effort to keep his memory alive, Shealey is working to turn Louis' birthplace into a historical landmark.

"He was a great fighter, and I would just like to see Chambers County honor him and give him the recognition he deserves," said Shealey.

County leaders hope to begin that process by placing a larger-than-life statue of Louis on the courthouse grounds.

"The spot I'm standing on has been set aside in the entry plaza for the statue of Joe Louis, and now we're in the fund raising stage," said Calvin Milford, Chambers County district judge.

April 12, 2006, marks the 25th anniversary of Louis' death. He died from a heart attack in Las Vegas in 1981. The statue will cost $50,000, and donations are being accepted.

If you'd like to donate, you can send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Public Building Authority of LaFayette
P.O. Box 378
LaFayette, AL 36862

--Written by: Brock Parker

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