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   Celebrate the Centenary of Joe Gans' death-Aug. 2010

By 1910, the new sport of GLOVED boxing reigned supreme, made popular in America by John L. Sullivan. Men like Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jim Jeffries, and Joe Gans became super stars, icons of the ring, the theater stages, and Edison's new movies. Wilder than the western frontier, these early times were made sensational by men who risked death when they entered the ring to fight to the finish.

The early Black battlers, like Joe Gans of Baltimore, faced an even tougher battle in Jim Crow America, but the sport offered opportunities unequalled elsewhere. Gans boxed professionally from 1891 to 1909, becoming the first American-born Black world champion in any sport when he kayoed Frank Erne in the first round in Ft. Erie, Canada in 1902 to take the world lightweight championship.

Fighting his way out of poverty, Gans survived physical assaults, a stolen title, and numerous attempts to destroy his reputation. With his purse from the Greatest Fight of the Century promoted by Tex Rickard of Madison Square Garden fame (the 42-round fight remains the longest title fight in history and the longest ever filmed), he built the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore. This jazz club was a precursor to the Cotton Club and where Gans gave musician, Eubie Blake, his first big opportunity.

Gans made one last trip west to Prescott, Arizona in 1910 to recuperate from tuberculosis, but he died on Aug. 10th. Ten thousand mourners attended his funeral in Baltimore.

© 2009 Glory Days of Boxing. All Rights Reserved.
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