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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
November 5, 1941 Washington, D. C.
The Navy is very anxious to father a prize fight in New York on January 9th between Joe Louis and Max [Buddy] Baer. Mike Jacobs has guaranteed them $25,000 for such a fight, to be used for welfare activities in the isolated bases. Joe Louis and Max Baer are agreeable to the arrangement.1
The difficulty in the matter is that Joe Louis may be inducted between now and that date. This is a matter over which we have no control, and the Selective Service people are unwilling to arrange a deferment. Admiral Stark is very anxious to have the fight in order to get the money, and he wants to know if we would be willing to allow Louis to fight, and more particularly to train for the fight, if he happens to be inducted before that date.
An exception to be made in this case in the nature of permitting Louis a portion of each day for training and giving him probably ten days’ furlough just prior to the fight, might be made on the basis that it was being done specifically at the request of the Navy. Whether or not Louis would undertake such a fight with limitations on his training activities, I do not know, but in making the preliminary answer to Admiral Stark I would like your view as to whether or not you would frown on the arrangement just described.2
G. C. Marshall
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Max Baer, Buddy’s older brother, had been heavyweight boxing champion between June 14, 1934, and June 13, 1935. Joe Louis had been champion since June 22, 1937. Louis had defeated Buddy Baer on May 23, 1941. Mike Jacobs was the boxing promoter of the Twentieth Century Sporting Club.
2. At the bottom of this memorandum, Marshall wrote: “Secretary states `use your own judgement. The idea does not appeal to me’. GCM”
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 665.