Giant Boxing Arm of Joe Louis – Detroit, Michigan - Atlas Obscura

Giant Boxing Arm of Joe Louis

Controversial tribute to the heavyweight champion boxer who grew up in Detroit. 


As a tribute to Detroit-native heavyweight champion Joe Louis (AKA The Brown Bomber), a giant fist monument was installed there in 1987. Designed by sculptor Robert Graham, the 24-foot arm-and-fist is suspended 24 feet above the ground inside of a bronze pyramid.

The sculpture was a gift to the city of Detroit from Sports Illustrated, which paid $350,000 for its design and construction. It was placed at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward so that people would drive and walk around it, right in the center of the city.

The arm-and-fist, which weighs about 8,000 pounds, has been the subject of much controversy in the area since it was installed decades ago. Some locals immediately interpreted the sculpture as a symbol of black power and wanted to know why the fist was without a boxing glove. Others were concerned that the fist didn’t represent how important Joe Louis was to the city of Detroit.

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