Former world heavyweight boxing champion Max Schmeling has died in his native Germany at the age of 99.

Schmeling was heavyweight champion for three years beginning in 1930, but his most memorable fight came six years later, in a non-title bout against American Joe Louis. Schmeling's sensational knockout of Louis, who was known as "the Brown Bomber", made him a lifelong sports hero in Germany.

Louis and Schmeling fought again two years later in 1938, and again a knockout decided the match. This time it was Louis who retained his world title, by demolishing Schmeling in the first round.

Dictator Adolf Hitler tried to capitalize on Schmeling's fame during the 1930s, but the fighter refused to join the Nazi party or subscribe to its theories of Aryan racial superiority. After the war, it became known that Schmeling had risked his life by sheltering two Jewish children from Nazi violence in Berlin.

Schmeling died Wednesday and was buried today in his hometown Hollenstedt, near Berlin.

Some information provided by AP.