Joe Gans

A Biography of the First African American World Boxing Champion


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About the Book

Joe Gans captured the world lightweight title in 1902, becoming the first black American world title holder in any sport. Gans was a master strategist and tactician, and one of the earliest practitioners of “scientific” boxing. As a black champion reigning during the Jim Crow era, he endured physical assaults, a stolen title, bankruptcy, and numerous attempts to destroy his reputation. Four short years after successfully defending his title in the 42-round “Greatest Fight of the Century,” Joe Gans was dead of tuberculosis. This biography features original round-by-round ringside telegraph reports of his most famous and controversial fights, a complete fight history, photographs, and early newspaper drawings and cartoons.

About the Author(s)

Colleen Aycock, co-editor for the International Boxing Research Organization, was named to the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame and is the author, co-author or co-editor of five books on boxing. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Mark Scott, a novelist and former Golden Gloves boxer, lives in Austin, Texas. He is a contributor to other publications on the history of boxing.

Bibliographic Details

Colleen Aycock and Mark Scott

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 294
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3994-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9336-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      v
Preface      1
1. A Marvel of the Ring      5
2. Battle Royal      11
3. Boxing in 1900 Baltimore      20
4. Ghosts in the House      30
5. Straight Hitting      35
6. Saving an Eye, Losing a Title      53
7. Fixed Fight in Chicago      63
8. Long Road Back      82
9. Bringing Home the Bacon      89
10. Defending the Championship: A Gentleman and a Gladiator      97
11. Stolen Title      109
12. Boxing Moves West      125
13. Forays at Welterweight      141
14. Epic Battle in the Nevada Desert      152
15. The White Plague      180
16. A Dream Deferred, a Dream Realized      193
17. Good Night, Sweet Prince: Fighting in the Shadow of Death      202
18. The Old Master’s Legacy      227
19. In the Words of Peers and Scholars      233
20. Final Rounds      243
Epilogue: Boxing’s Continued Popularity      250
Appendix: Ring Record      257
Chapter Notes      265
Works Cited      277
Index      281

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Wonderful…expertly crafted…it is quite simply one of the most engrossing boxing books I have ever read…highly recommend[ed]”—BoxingTalk
  • “Compelling and informative…a first-rate account of the life and times of Gans…a wonderful book, which rightly gives Joe Gans the respect and admiration he so richly deserves”—
  • “Colleen Aycock and Mark Scott, and McFarland, deserve our warm thanks in spotlighting the short, but singular, career of one of America’s least well-known athletes, a lightweight boxer named Joe Gans…[who] became the first black American world-title holder in any sport.”—Journal of Sport History
  • “Finally! Someone has written a book about boxing’s first African American world champion…marvelous…well written…very enjoyable and educational…highly recommend”—International Boxing Research Organization
  • “The most thorough and meticulously researched volume on this fighter to date…a must-have…interesting and informative…very detailed”—Cyber Boxing Zone
  • “Probably nobody knows more about Joe Gans than Aycock”—Albuquerque Journal and Mas New Mexico.