The Joe Louis Fist serves as an iconic Detroit landmark near Hart Plaza on Jefferson Avenue, right across the street from the GMRENCEN. You’ve drove past it, taken photos in front of it and probably wondered about it. So here are some fun facts you may not know about the city staple.
- The statue was completed by sculptor Robert Graham in 1986, nine years after the opening party for the GM Renaissance Center.
- Graham also sculpted the statue of President Roosevelt at the Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.
- The statue pays tribute to famed boxer Joe Louis, who defeated German boxer Max Schmeling in 1938.
- Louis’ win was considered an American win during World War II.
- The Joe Louis Fist was a gift from Sports Illustrated Magazine, dedicated on Oct. 16, 1986.
- At the time, it cost $350,000 to create.
- Despite common belief, the monument was not brought to Detroit for Joe Louis’ death, but for the Detroit Institute of Art’s centennial anniversary.
- The initial arm was modeled in clay at 14 inches in length.
- Its structure is made of bronze and painted steel.
- The statue weighs 8,000 pounds (about four tons).
- It’s 24 feet long and can be seen from Canada.
- When the arm was unveiled, not everyone was pleased—there is still a controversy surrounding the statue.
- In response to the monument, sculptor Ed Hamilton created another statue of Joe Louis, which can be found in Cobo Center.
- To this day, we don’t know Graham’s exact intentions, as he worked in almost complete secrecy while creating the statue in California.
- What we do know is the Joe Louis Fist is abstract so that it may be seen as a symbol of the city. The exact symbol, however, is unknown, allowing people to draw their own conclusions.
What does the Detroit fist mean to you? Let us know in the comments.