Winter is upon us, that means it’s time for a new installment of our quarterly pocket notebook release. This edition rings (no pun intended) especially close to our family. Joe Gans, perhaps one of the most historically relevant Baltimoreans to have lived. Not only did Joe grace the boxing world with his scientific approach to pugilism, but opened the door to Baltimoreans of all races and creeds to enjoy his vibrant establishment, The Goldfield. For many of you reading this, his name is unfamiliar, we hope to change that!
Joe Gans, boxing’s Old Master, was born in Baltimore in 1874. Gans was the first
African-American to hold a world boxing title, which he held from 1902-1908. On Labor Day in 1906, he defended his title against Oscar “Battling” Nelson at Goldfield, Nevada in what was billed as the Fight of the Century. Gans knocked out his opponent after forty-two grueling rounds in the desert and took one third of the $11,000 purse home to Baltimore. In Monument City, he opened the Goldfield Hotel at Lexington and Colvin (present site of the main post office) downtown.
The bar in the Goldfield regularly featured ragtime great Eubie Blake and was a favorite stop of Jack Johnson when was in town. While 7,000 souls turned out for The Old Master’s funeral in 1910, Gans has been largely forgotten, especially in his hometown. There are those of us who remember what he meant to boxing and to Baltimore, and we seek to change that.
This has been the most enjoyable edition to make thus far, and we hope you enjoy it not only for it’s beauty, but for the historical relevance equally.
Yours in writing,