Simon, Abe : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Simon, Abe

Nicknamed "the Ape," Simon was a 250-pound heavyweight who fought Joe Louis twice in the early 1940s when Louis was the heavyweight champion of the world. He later had a small role in the film On the Waterfront.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1913 - d. October 24, 1969

Career Highlights:
Simon began his professional career in 1935 and won his first 14 fights, 12 by knockout (10 of which were in the first three rounds). A 6'4", 250-pound giant, Simon faced his first real challenge in August 1937 when he met Buddy Baer, brother of the former heavyweight champ Max Baer (the brothers had one only Jewish grandparent, but each of them wore a Magen David on his trunks as a marketing tool to gain Jewish support). Baer knocked Simon out in the third-round. After going 8-3 in his next 11 fights, Simon faced Jersey Joe Walcott in February 1940. In the sixth-round of the fight, Simon knocked out the future heavyweight champion (Walcott won the title in 1949) and became a top contender for the crown held by Joe Louis.

In March 1941, Simon finally got a chance at the title after winning 8 of his previous 10 fights. The first bout against Louis took place in Detroit, Louis' hometown, and few gave the challenger any real chance. With over 18,000 fans watching, Simon was knocked down in the first round (the first time he had been knocked down in his career), but he also got some shots in, closing Louis' left eye in the later rounds. After being knocked down again in the third round (Simon grinned while sitting on the canvas until the count of nine, then rose to continue the fight), he came back again and staggered Louis towards the end of the seventh round. The bout was scheduled for 20-rounds; by the 13th, the champion was gathering strength and momentum, while Simon seemed to be losing steam. After Simon was knocked down twice in the 13th-round -- and was staggering after another blow -- the referee stopped the fight at 1:20 of the round, and Louis retained his title.

One year later, in March 1942, Simon got another shot at the world champ, who was considered almost unbeatable by this time. Simon employed the same strategy that he had in the first fight: he used his size as an advantage by being aggressive and bearing in on the smaller Louis (who weighed 207 pounds). This time, however, the fight would not last very long, as Louis landed good punches in round one and then knocked Simon down in the second -- the bell sounded at the count of two to save the challenger. Although to some ringside observers, Simon seemed dazed after round two, he came out strong in the third. He then won the fourth round with his barrage of punches from inside. In the next round, the champion knocked Simon down again, although he was again saved by the bell. In round 6, Simon was felled for a third time only seconds into the round, and was counted out by the referee. Although he argued that he had risen before the count of ten, it was apparent that the fight was over. It was Simon's final professional bout and he finished with a professional record of 38 wins in 49 career decisions.

New York City

Physical description:
6'4", 250-267 pounds

Career Statistics:
Professional record:
Wins: 38 (27 by knockout)
Losses: 10
Draws: 1

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