Goldfield Color

Goldfield was the site on September 2nd, 1906 of a lightweight championship fight that lasted 42 rounds. It featured Joe Gans and Oscar “Battling” Nelson.

The fight started about three that afternoon, and temperatures in the boomtown soared past 100 degrees. The two battled long and hard, but, finally, in the 42nd round, Nelson was disqualified for a low blow to Gans, who was declared the winner.

It’s interesting to note that no matter whom won, Gans, who was black, was to earn $11,000 while Nelson, who was white, was to receive $22,500, even though Gans was favored two to one. When the pair fought again two years later Gans lost by a knockout.

“I was born in the city of Baltimore in the year 1874, and it might be well to state at this time that my right name is Joseph Gant, not Gans,” he told reporters. “However, when I became an object of newspaper publicity, some reporter made a mistake and my name appeared as Joe Gans, and as Joe Gans it remained ever since.”

Gans started boxing professionally about 1891 in Baltimore and quit in 1900 with an eye cut in the twelfth round of the world lightweight title bout against champion Frank Erne. In their rematch two years later, Gans knocked Erne out in one round to recapture the lightweight title.

He died in August 1910, of tuberculosis and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Baltimore. His monument is maintained by the International Boxing Commission and sits jus’ to the left of the main entrance of the cemetery.

Ernest Hemingway would later used Joe Gans’ character in his 1916 short story “A Matter of Color.” This early story set the stage for Hemingway’s famous 1927 parable “The Killers.”

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