Monday, February 15, 2010

Detroit's other tribute to boxing great Joe Louis

On one side of Cobo Hall stands Joe Louis Arena, at least for now. A few blocks the other way, there's the widely known and often controversial Fist of a Champion sculpture. Both are Detroit's way of saluting homegrown boxing hero Joe Louis.

But in between, a lesser-known tribute to the Brown Bomber stands in the Cobo Hall concourse, an unfortunately low-traffic area unless you really like new cars, and even then you likely only set foot in the place once a year. It's a cool sculpture, and it stands just inside Cobo's main entrance.

In researching the statue a little bit, I stumbled upon some interesting facts about Joe Louis. As a child, he grew up in a section of Detroit known as "Black Bottom", an all-black neighborhood in what is now an area near the current-day ballparks. It was called "Black Bottom" not because of its all-black residents, but because of the very dark soil there. "Black Bottom" was a nationally famous area, and featured jazz clubs where people like Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie played. All of that has nothing to do with a statue in Cobo Hall, I realize. But it's pretty interesting.