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German boxing legend Schmeling dead at 99

Associated Press

BERLIN -- German heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling, whose bouts against American Joe Louis set off a propaganda war between the Nazi regime and the United States on the eve of World War II, has died at age 99.

The former world champion, one of Germany's biggest sports idols, died Wednesday at his home in Hollenstedt, according to his foundation in Hamburg. No cause of death was given.

Schmeling was buried today in a ceremony attended by a small circle of friends, the foundation said. It did not say where the funeral took place.

Schmeling's extraordinary career will be remembered for his two fights with Louis, which produced a lasting bond between the two boxers despite the politically charged atmosphere surrounding the bouts.

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Born Sept. 28, 1905, of humble origins in a small town in the state of Brandenburg, Schmeling first got interested in boxing after seeing a boxing film.

Over the years, Schmeling treasured his friendship with Louis and quietly gave the down-and-out American gifts of money. He also paid for Louis' funeral in 1981.

"I had a happy marriage and a nice wife. I accomplished everything you can. What more can you want?" Schmeling said in 1985.

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