Champion Of The World By Maya Angelou: A Victory Bigger Than The Ropes

“Champion of the World,” an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the cage bird sings is here. It is a story about a boxing match and describes the life of an African American in early 1900’s America. Maya Angelou’s I Know Why Caged Birds Sings chapter nine begins in Arkansas in the 1930’s. To keep up with the latest boxing matches via radio, the African American community is packed together and huddled in a small store owned by the author’s grandmother. Joe Louis, who is currently the heavyweight champion of America, will be facing off against a White contender.

Joe Louis, also known for his nickname “Brown Bomber”, was an “hero to all people of color” at a time when prejudice was very common. Louis’ win and the maintenance of his heavyweight title would have been a proud and empowering moment. Maya Angelou’s chapter, “Champion of the World”, describes a brief story about listening as a boxer beat a white opponent. She uses dialogues and quotes to describe the fight and the reactions of everyone around her. Many comments are made about Joe Louis’ victory, as everyone settles in before the fight starts. “I’m not worried about the fight. Joe’s gonna whip up that cracker as if it’s open-season,” someone states. They are shocked when Louis responds with a quick jab to his head. Louis attempts to “fight his own way out”, but his opponent is pushed away. After some backand forth, Louis finds himself in a corner again. His opponent “keeps raining down on Louis,” despite the fact that the referee tried to stop him.

Angelou is a great help when Louis seems to be losing. Angelou uses relatable examples to show her emotions towards the match and she anxiously explains the situation. Louis’ condition is addressed to her by Angelou. It was our country falling.” She then goes on to list the atrocities that black men fear. It is a way of describing how Louis losing means something more: lynching, rape, and “whipped and maimed” by white people. As everyone sees Joe Louis lose the heavyweight title, it makes the room feel heavy. Angelou heavyheartedly likens Joe Louis’ loss to the end-of-the world and being back under slavery. She describes how black individuals are characterized “…lower by racism.

Only a tiny bit higher than the apes. We were ugly, stupid, lazy, dirty, and unlucky . A white man winning the victory over a black person was another way for white people to be dominant and strong over black people. The fight heats up. Louis reacts fast and fights back to win! “Champion in the world. A young African American male. A son of a Black mother. He was the most powerful man in the entire world. The victory is celebrated in and around a store with drinking and eating. People living far away chose not to travel because they were afraid of being “lost on the country road” on a night Joe Louis had shown us that we are the strongest people in this world.