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The year Detroit became "the City of Champions"

Apr 6, 2015

Joe Louis was the guest of honor at the "Champions Day" celebration of 1936.
Credit Boston Public Library / flickr.com

Seventy-nine years ago this month, Detroit sports teams and athletes celebrated a winning streak that's never been replicated since.

That year, Detroit athletes earned titles that kept piling up: the Tigers won their first World Series, the Lions won their first national championship, the Red Wings took home their first Stanley Cup. Not to mention Joe Louis and a myriad of others that came out victorious. 

On April 18, 1936, two dozen Detroit teams and individual athletes met at the Masonic Temple in Detroit to throw themselves a party. That day, by signed proclamation of Michigan Governor Frank Fitzgerald, became known as "Champions Day" for the city of Detroit and state of Michigan. 

We spoke with writer Jeff Waraniak. His piece "It Was a Very Good Year", which appears in the April issue of Hour Detroit magazine, highlights the current effort being made to bring Champions Day back into public consciousness. 

We also sat down with Charles Avison, who is spearheading efforts to refresh our collective memory of the day when the President of the United States and all 48 governors saluted Detroit as "the City of Champions." 

Listen to our conversation with Waraniak and Avison as they discuss the inspiration and legacy of the 1935-1936 Detroit sports season and its relevance to shaping Detroit's current identity.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom