Giant Boxing Arm of Joe Louis.

Giant Fist of Joe Louis

Field review by the editors.

Detroit, Michigan

Aimed menacingly toward Canada, the giant boxing arm of Joe Louis hangs from a pyramid of poles in the middle of a downtown Detroit intersection. Louis, who died in 1981, was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world (1937-1949) and a big hero in Detroit. The 24-foot-long arm weighs four tons, and gives off a medieval siege battering ram vibe. It was sculpted by Robert Graham, who would go on to create the Big Green Head of Charlie Parker in Kansas City.

Giant Boxing Arm of Joe Louis.

When the arm was unveiled on October 16, 1986, not everyone was pleased. People dismissed it as "The Fist." Some wondered why Joe Louis didn't merit a whole statue, like other famous people. Some muttered that the fist was too similar to a Black Power salute; some said it should at least have a boxing glove.

Engraved into the chopped-off part of the arm is its time-weathered dedication. The arm was "a gift from Sports Illustrated" and, surprisingly, was not sparked by the death of Joe Louis, but by the Detroit Institute of Art's 100th birthday.

Giant Fist of Joe Louis

Hart Plaza

E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI
Downtown, in Hart Plaza. One block from the river and across from Ford Auditorium. E. Jefferson at Woodward Ave.
RA Rates:
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Nearby Offbeat Places

The Spirit of DetroitThe Spirit of Detroit, Detroit, MI - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
Big Carrots, Ann Arbor, MI - 35 mi.

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