Sport (Years Played): Boxing (1934-1951)
Numbers don't lie. From 1937 to 1949, Joe Louis held the heavyweight title for 140 consecutive months, the longest such streak in boxing history. Many people regarded him as the first black national hero. In the late '30s, at the height of pre-World War II tensions between Germany and the rest of the world, Louis fought two internationally publicized bouts with German Max Schmeling. Schmeling won the first, in 1936, and the writer Langston Hughes described seeing people weeping in the streets of New York. Louis won the rematch in 1938, however, and legendary sportswriter Jimmy Cannon once wrote that Louis was "a credit to his race - the human race." That kind of patronizing condescension sounds pretty dated today, so we'll give a Rick Ross grunt for emphasis instead.