Fletcher Martin

American (1904–1979)

The Undefeated

1948

Oil on canvas

Museum purchase with funds donated by The Collectors Circle

2012.2

The Undefeated interprets an iconic moment from Joe Louis’ last championship fight. Unusually, Martin does not represent Louis, but his losing opponent “Jersey” Joe Walcott. The painting depicts the fight’s climax during the 11th round where Louis pummeled Walcott. As referee Frank Fullam declared Louis the winner, a dizzy but determined Walcott tried to stand up again, and was caught by Fullam. The fight was experienced by millions on television and radio and was front-page news the following day. Martin situates the viewer ringside for the fight’s dynamic conclusion. A violent, masculine sport that reached its height during this period, boxing was one of the first arenas of racial integration.

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