Sports fans had much to occupy themselves with during the memorable summer of ’41, including New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio's record-setting consecutive games hit streak and Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams' dogged pursuit of batting .400. No sports story, however, loomed larger that summer than Joe Louis versus Billy Conn, the hard-hitting heavyweight champion, Detroit’s "Brown Bomber," battling the stylish and cocky "Pittsburgh Kid.”
Considered one of the greatest matches in boxing history, the fight saw the underdog Conn well ahead on points until Louis knocked him out in the 13th round. Ed Gruver captures the high drama of that sultry night at the Polo Grounds, the brash confidence of the challenger from Pittsburgh, and the quiet dignity of the Black champion Louis, who personified “the memory of every injustice practiced upon his people and the memory of every triumph.”
Ed Gruver is the author of eight books, including Bringing the Monster to Its Knees: Ben Hogan, Oakland Hills, and the 1951 U.S. Open, From Baltimore to Broadway: Joe, the Jets and the Super Bowl III Guarantee, Nitschke, Koufax, The Ice Bowl: The Cold Truth About Football’s Most Unforgettable Game, and The American Football League: A Year-by-Year History, 1960-69. He also writes for Ringside Seat magazine.
“Few sporting events deserve to be remembered a week after they happen, let alone 80 years later. But the Louis-Conn fight of 1941 lived in the memories of everyone who watched it — or listened to it — forever. And thanks to Ed Gruver’s compelling and lyrical book, it is certain to stay that way for generations to come. Two timeless sporting heroes, one classic fight, and one remarkable author. Just a wonderful and engaging read.” — Mike Vaccaro, New York Post sports columnist and author of 1941: The Greatest Year in Sports
“For a captivating cast of characters, personal dramas, and a sporting nail-biter, it would be hard to beat the 1941 Louis-Conn fight. Joe was making his seventh title defense in as many months, Billy was spending more time battling his future father-in-law than anyone else, and almost no one thought the contest promised much. But it was gold, and Ed Gruver engagingly captures the action inside and outside the ring. It turned out to be the last great fight for both men.” — Randy Roberts, authorof Joe Louis: Hard Times Man
“In the midst of the last summer of American innocence, Joe Louis and Billy Conn met at the Polo Grounds for the heavyweight championship of the world. Even the most casual boxing fan knows the outcome. They know of Louis’ brilliant run as boxing’s greatest champion. They know of Conn’s youthful charm and Irish obstinacy. But this book is much more than a thirteen round narrative of an epic match. A soap opera was being played out during the buildup to the fight. In JoeLouis vs. Billy Conn, Ed Gruver brilliantly captures the delightful drama both inside and outside the ropes surrounding one of boxing’s most unforgettable fights.” — Andrew O’Toole, author of Sweet William: The Life of Billy Conn
“Gruver succeeds in bringing to life the contest’s charged atmosphere. This is a real-life Rocky story, but without a Hollywood ending.”
“Joe Louis vs. Billy Conn is an entertaining read. Gruver brings his subject to life. The fight itself is dramatically told over the course of five chapters. And Conn (who clearly has a place in Gruver’s heart) gets his due as a great fighter.” --The Hauser Report