Monument to Joe Louis

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The sculpture in 2019

The Monument to Joe Louis, known also as The Fist,[1] is a memorial located at Detroit's Hart Plaza, dedicated to boxer Joe Louis.


Showing title of piece

Dedicated on October 16, 1986, the sculpture, commissioned by Sports Illustrated magazine[2] from the Mexican-American sculptor Robert Graham (1938–2008), and poured by the legendary bronze artist, Rolf Kriken, is a 24-foot-long (7.3 m) arm with a fisted hand suspended by a 24-foot-high (7.3 m) pyramidal framework.

It represents the power of his punch both inside and outside the ring. Because of Louis' efforts to fight Jim Crow laws, the fist was symbolically intended as a statement against racism.[3] Graham referred to the sculpture as a "battering ram".[4] It is claimed to be an historical metaphor, even down to its placement (pointing toward Canada).[5]

The sculpture was vandalized by two white men in 2004, who covered it in white paint and left a sign which read, "Courtesy of Fighting Whities".[4] Graham responded that the piece was "working" if it aroused passion.[4]


  1. ^ Colby, Joy Hakanson (10 July 2006). "Art 'hospitals' heal history: Conservators battle against time and abuse to fix and preserve precious artwork". Detroit News. p. E.1.
  2. ^ "Memorial to Joe Louis". Retrieved May 8, 2017.
  3. ^ "Fist of a Champion - Detroit's Monument to Joe Louis". Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Zaslow, Jeffrey (4 March 2004). "In Detroit, a Blow To 'The Fist' Touches A Sensitive Nerve; Controversial Sculpture Is Defaced With Paint; Vandals Deny Racism". Wall Street Journal. p. A.1.
  5. ^ Daily Detroit Staff (July 10, 2015). "The Real Story Behind Detroit's Giant Joe Louis Fist". Daily Detroit. Retrieved May 8, 2017. originally appeared in Detroit Unspun.

Coordinates: 42°19′43″N 83°02′40″W / 42.328694°N 83.044544°W / 42.328694; -83.044544