Canadian man donates boxing gloves worn by Joe Louis in famous fight to Smithsonian
The gloves, worn by Louis in his first fight with German Max Schmeling in 1936, have been in Milburn's family since then. And he wasn't going to sell them.
"The bottom line is, they're not for sale," Milburn told CBC Radio. "They could be worth two cents, they could be worth two million, who really cares?
"My aunt and uncle kept those gloves for at least 60 years. They didn't sell them," he says. "I don't believe the intent is I receive, or anyone receive, any monetary value for them. They are going where they belong."
They might have gone elsewhere.
In an interview with CBC.ca, Milburn says he phoned the International Boxing Hall of Fame three times to tell them about the gloves but "they didn't call back."
He also tried the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association, hoping they might be able to sell the gloves and use the money to help young fighters here, and they didn't call back either.
When Milburn contacted the Smithsonian they phoned right away. Once they had taken a look at them he received another call from the museum's Dr. Ellen Hughes.
"She said, 'Tell us what we can do or say to get the gloves,' " he says.
One expert on boxing memorabilia, Wally Boshyk of Toronto's Legends of the Game, estimates the gloves could bring up to $100,000 US as a base price out on the market. But if two collectors at an auction both wanted the piece, that number could go to $500,000 US.
Louis's gloves came into the family through Milburn's late uncle and aunt, Earle and Beulah Cuzzens.
Uncle Earle, who was at Yankee Stadium for the 1936 fight, was in the same business as both of Louis's managers, "known at the time as 'the numbers,' " Milburn said. "Now, the government runs the numbers [the lottery]. They call it Pick 3."
When Aunt Beulah died in 2003 at 96 years of age, she told her nephew to make sure the gloves, and some photos of Louis and her late husband, went to the right place.
comments powered by Disqus
- The Story Behind ‘Woman in Gold’: Nazi Art Thieves and One Painting’s Return
- Scott Walker, Allergic to Dogs, May Run Against Political History
- Russian History Receives a Makeover That Starts With Ivan the Terrible
- Parsing Ronald Reagan’s Words for Early Signs of Alzheimer’s
- Here's a look at history of 'religious freedom' laws
- Charlatan or Sage? Contested Legacy of the late Dr. Ben, a Father of African Studies
- Historians make it easy for visitors to DC to understand the history of the Mall
- History's Grandin Wins Bancroft Prize for "The Empire of Necessity"
- Nobel prize-winning scientist writes a history of science
- Ken Burns tackles history of cancer