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  1. #1
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    Post Family tree of ISU's Schmeling has familiar ring (updated)

    DesMoinesRegister.com

    Ames, Ia. — Necessity led Tom Schmeling onto the gridiron.

    Iowa State's 6-foot-3, 293-pound offensive lineman once dabbled in boxing, after learning of a family link to Max Schmeling, a world heavyweight champion of the 1930s. Tom also dreamed of playing basketball, and was invited to throw the discus for Syracuse.

    He was instead lured to Ames, where his quarterback buddy, Bret Meyer, needed a roommate during the Cyclones' summer high school football camp.

    "I'm probably at Iowa State because of Bret," said Schmeling, who will be the starting right guard for Saturday's game at Toledo. "He didn't want to room with somebody he didn't know. Finally, after three or four days of harping on me ..."

    Schmeling and Meyer share a bond that comes from spending their teenage years in Atlantic. Schmeling's athletic odyssey, however, began with a grade-school project.

    He was tracing his roots when Schmeling's mother, Leann, revealed a kinship with a prize-fighting luminary.

    Max Schmeling held the heavyweight title from 1930-32, but is best remembered for two historic fights with Joe Louis.

    "Our teacher asked the next day if anyone was related to someone famous," Tom recalled. "So I raised my hand. It was kind of a cool experience."

    Details are sketchy, but the family tree stretches from Max's homeland in Germany to the American heartland.

    Tom's great-grandfather was Max's uncle.

    John Schmeling came to the United States just before World War II, and eventually settled in Iowa.

    His son, Gilbert, adopted a boy, Gene. Gene is Tom's father.

    "It means a lot," Tom said. "It's not only self-pride for me, it's understanding and knowing there are people who have done good things with your name.

    "So you have to keep it up."

    Tom was inspired to enter the ring. At his mother's urging, he retired while in the fifth grade.

    "I'm not so good at it," Schmeling said. "For some reason, I like to drop my hands and run at people. So boxing didn't last too long."

    He moved to the hardwood.

    Meyer describes Schmeling as a force in the paint, but ...

    "He was a guy who was always back at halfcourt because he was too tired to go all the way down," Meyer said with a grin.

    "Sometimes, he'd get the ball around the 3-point line and think he could shoot it. I don't know if he ever made one, but he threw up a couple."

    Schmeling found a niche in track and field, winning state discus titles twice.

    "It was nip and tuck there for a while," Gene Schmeling said. "I thought maybe we were going to have a track star in the family, instead of a football player."

    Meyer was establishing himself as a passer.

    He planned to attend Iowa State's camp. Schmeling was expecting to attend a basketball camp, but Meyer coaxed him into switching sports.

    Schmeling impressed Iowa State coaches, and was offered a scholarship.

    "It's all been history since then," Gene said. "Tommy acts like a fighter, but I think he's really a lover at heart."


    Last edited by ISUFan22; 09-21-2007 at 08:37 AM.

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    Thumbs up Re: Family tree of ISU's Schmeling has familiar ring

    Max Schmeling was by most all reports, a great man. I saw a History or Biography channel show on him once that indicated Hitler & Himmler pressured him mercilessly to join the Nazi Party for propoganda purposes, yet he refused. Even so, he chose to continue living in Germany; they had him drafted into the German Army. He was relatively old following WWII, yet still made some money fighting due to his celebrity and was able to buy the German Coca-Cola franchise. He became quite rich, bank-rolled a nearly destitute Joe Louis and even paid for his funeral. Cool story!


    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. - Mark Twain

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    Re: Family tree of ISU's Schmeling has familiar ring

    Thanks for the further insight! The DMR updated the article, I've updated the original post to include the full article.



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