Maximilian Adolph Otto Sigfried Schmeling (1905-2005) was a German heavyweight boxer. He became Heavyweight Champion of the World following the retirement of Gene Tunney in 1930. He lost the title to Jack Sharkey in 1932. Schmeling was perceived as being past his prime until 1936, when he knocked out the heavily favored Joe Louis. Schmeling fought a rematch against Louis in 1938, and arrived in New York City accompanied by a publiciste Reichsministry of Propaganda, who guaranteed Schmeling's victory, based not on Schmeling's individual merits but on the inherent superiorty of Aryans to black people. This Nazi boasting led Americans of every race to rally around Louis. For Schmeling's part, he considered himself a German patriot and allowed a Ministry of Propaganda publicist to accompany him to New York because he felt obliged to cooperate in what he saw as an attempt to improve the increasingly negative international perception of Germany's domestic policies. However, he was neither a member of the Nazi Party nor a proponent of their racial theories; in fact, it was eventually learned that he helped two Jewish children escape the Holocaust.
Shortly after losing to Louis, Schmeling joined the Luftwaffe when World War II broke out and served in an elite unit of fallschimjager (paratroopers). He was badly wounded at the Battle of Crete and was honorably discharged from the service.
After the war ended, Schmeling made a brief attempt to resurrect his boxing career. He retired permanently in 1948, and went to work for the Coca-Cola Company. He befriended his old rival Louis and the two became quite close, with Schmeling footing the bill for Louis's funeral service in 1981. Schmeling himself died in 2005 at the age of 99.
Pete McGill reflected that the United States Navy's attempts to offer battle to its Japanese counterpart did not resemble the epic bout between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. (The Navy's commanders had expected a massive engagement resembling the Battle of Jutland, but were forced into retreat by enemy aircraft without even making contact with the main Japanese naval formation.)