History | Nov 25 2017

On This Day: Joe Gans, boxing’s first African American world champion, was born

George Zeleny recalls the incredible story of the 'Old Master' Joe Gans
joe gans
joe-gans

JOE GANS was known as “The Old Master” for good reason. He was a master boxer, upright and clever, with a stiff punch in both hands. He was able to make opponents miss by moving his head a fraction and employed pin-point accuracy with his own retaliatory punches.

Joe Gans was the first native-born black American to win a world title, but, because of the attitude towards black boxers in the years he boxed (from 1891 to 1909), he often had to “know his place”. This meant that he often had to refrain from knocking out white opponents, accept the short end of the purse and sometimes deliberately lose. However, Gans was able to transcend all this and become one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters when he won the world lightweight title by knocking out Frank Erne in the first round.

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