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  • Published: 11/01/2010
   After 42 years with boxing in Detroit, he has landed a large number of awards, such as the Sports Illustrated Joe Louis Award in 1993, and induction in the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. But his latest award—the Brown Bomber Jacket by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, has left him awed. “I’m thrilled, because this is such a unique award,” says Stuart Kirschenbaum, ’65, a podiatrist in Detroit who was a former Golden Gloves champion, a boxing referee and Michigan’s boxing commissioner from 1981-92.  “Look at the history of the person for whom the award is named, the legacy it supports, and the list of people who have received it.”  Previous winners read like a “Who’s Who” of Detroit—Berry Gordy, Barry Sanders, Smokey Robinson, Coleman Young, Dennis Archer, John Conyers and the Hon. Damon Keith. Even more important to Kirschenbaum is that the award was named after the great Joe Louis—the legendary fighter he first saw at age eight while watching television in his Brooklyn, NY, apartment. “Joe Louis was trying to make his comeback against Rocky Marciano,” recalls Stu, not realizing that he’d have a lifelong relationship with both boxing and the Louis family.  In 1981 Stu met Louis for the first time at the dedication of Joe Louis Arena.  “His hand was paralyzed,” recalls Stu.  “I had an awesome feeling shaking his hand.  This hand made history.” A few years later, Stu was instrumental in raising money to take care of Louis’ widow, Martha Louis, then in a nursing home in Detroit, and in reuniting the Louis family, who had scattered geographically. He became Martha’s caretaker, and after her passing, arranged to have her buried near Joe in Arlington National Cemetery.  “The whole experience was surreal,” he says. “Here was someone that had been forgotten by everyone.”

By Robert Bao, Editor, MSU Alumni Magazine

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