(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Through this biography of Louis, Jakoubek creates a poignant human-interest story, vividly depicts the boxing world and its characters, admonishes against racial injustices and prejudices, and establishes Louis as an American hero.

Jakoubek appeals to readers’ sympathy as he depicts the abject poverty that surrounds Louis’ early life. First there is rural poverty, with little educational or cultural opportunity but food to eat, a pond for fishing and swimming, and woods to explore. Later there is urban, ghetto poverty, with more contact with the outside world but not enough food to eat; there is also trouble to avoid. The reader may marvel at the character of Louis’ mother, a woman left with eight children and no money who works excruciatingly hard to rear her family. Later, she marries a man who also has eight children, and the two of them, with their sixteen children, move to Detroit. In the South of the 1920’s, they had been known as “good niggers”; in Detroit, they are unknowns and are without work during the Depression. Louis is described as hating school, partly because of a slight speech impediment, a stammer or stutter that made him nervous enough that the other children laughed at him. He dropped out while in the sixth grade.

Accounts of deterrents to Louis’ boxing success and his struggle to the championship allow the reader to identify with the trials of others and to realize that setbacks sometimes can be overcome through...

(The entire section is 604 words.)