"there is good reason to believe that Schmeling was not in New York at all but in Poland, having been drafted into the Wehrmacht and sent to the front as punishment for his defeat by Joe Louis in 1938 "
Max Schmeling
Public DomainMax Schmeling - Credit: Wm. C. Greene

Max Schmeling was a world champion boxer.  His defeat of African American boxer Joe Louis in 1936 made him a national hero in Germany, and was touted by Nazi officials as proof of Aryan superiority. 

Joe Louis
Public DomainJoe Louis - Credit: Carl Van Vechten

The rematch between Louis and Schmeling in 1938 was one of the most famous boxing matches of all time.  A few weeks before the bout, Louis visited the White House, where President Roosevelt told him, "Joe, we need muscles like yours to beat Germany."  When Schmeling arrived in New York in June 1938 for the rematch, he was accompanied by a Nazi publicist who declared that a black man could not defeat Schmeling and that Schmeling’s prize money would be used to build tanks in Germany.

The fight took place at Yankee Stadium on 22 June 1938, before a crowd of over 70,000. It lasted two minutes and four seconds.  Schmeling was knocked down three times, only managing to throw two punches. On the third knockdown, Schmeling's trainer threw in the towel.