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The Longest Fight; In the Ring with Joe Gans, Boxing's First African American Champion

The Longest Fight; In the Ring with Joe Gans, Boxing's First African American Champion

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The dramatic, little-known story of a fascinating early African-American sports hero     Joe Gans was the welterweight champion of the world—smart, trim, handsome, with a revered right hook. He was the first black man in Baltimore to own a car, and the saloon he owned was the first place in the city where blacks and whites mingled socially. And yet Gans—as interesting a sports hero as America has produced—is largely unknown today. The Longest Fight will change that.      The book centers on an epic boxing match held in September 1906 in Goldfield, Nevada: Gans versus the racist fighter Oscar “Battling” Nelson, who was known to bite opponents. The promoter, the young Tex Rickard, played up the fight as a race war. A new rail line brought tens of thousands of spectators from San Francisco. Dozens of reporters came to file blow-by-blow accounts to their home cities. And a pair of entrepreneurs filmed the fight to show in theaters, closed-circuit style.       William Gildea uses Gans’s achievements to give us a deeply affecting account of what it was like to be an African-American sports champion in the early twentieth century. And through it all Gans was a man of wit, style, and courage—an unforgettable precursor to Satchel Paige, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.
The dramatic, little-known story of a fascinating early African-American sports hero     Joe Gans was the welterweight champion of the world—smart, trim, handsome, with a revered right hook. He was the first black man in Baltimore to own a car, and the saloon he owned was the first place in the city where blacks and whites mingled socially. And yet Gans—as interesting a sports hero as America has produced—is largely unknown today. The Longest Fight will change that.      The book centers on an epic boxing match held in September 1906 in Goldfield, Nevada: Gans versus the racist fighter Oscar “Battling” Nelson, who was known to bite opponents. The promoter, the young Tex Rickard, played up the fight as a race war. A new rail line brought tens of thousands of spectators from San Francisco. Dozens of reporters came to file blow-by-blow accounts to their home cities. And a pair of entrepreneurs filmed the fight to show in theaters, closed-circuit style.       William Gildea uses Gans’s achievements to give us a deeply affecting account of what it was like to be an African-American sports champion in the early twentieth century. And through it all Gans was a man of wit, style, and courage—an unforgettable precursor to Satchel Paige, Jim Thorpe, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson.

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Publish date: Jun 19, 2012
Added to Scribd: May 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux18 West 18th Street, New York 10011Copyright © 2012 by William GildeaAll rights reservedDistributed in Canada by D&M Publishers, Inc.Printed in the United States o AmericaFirst edition, 2012Grateul acknowledgment is made or permission to reprint the ollowing previously  published material:Quotations rom the writings o H. L. Mencken, published by permission o theEnoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, in accordance with the terms o Mr. Mencken’s will and his bequest to the Library.Passage by David Halberstam rom the book
ESPN SportsCentury
, edited by Mi-chael MacCambridge, oreword by Chris Berman, and introduction by David Halber-stam. Copyright © 1999 by ESPN, Inc. Reprinted by permission o Hyperion. All rightsreserved.Lines rom “The Time o Ruby Robert” by Edgar Lee Masters, published in
Esquire
, February, 1940. Reprinted by permission o Hilary Masters.Excerpt rom
Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison. Copyright 1947, 1948, 1952 by Ralph Ellison. Copyright renewed © 1975, 1976, 1980 by Ralph Ellison. Used by per-mission o Random House, Inc.Lyrics rom “George Jones,” rom
Songs o Yale
. Composed by Marshall Bar-tholomew. Copyright © 1934 (Renewed) by G. Schirmer, Inc. (ASCAP). InternationalCopyright Secured. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.Library o Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataGildea, William.The longest fght : in the ring with Joe Gans, boxing’s frst AricanAmerican champion / William Gildea. — 1st ed.p. cm.Includes bibliographical reerences and index.ISBN 978-0-374-28097-0 (alk. paper)1. Gans, Joe. 2. Boxers (Sports)—United States—Biography.3. Arican American boxers—Biography. I. Title.GV1132.G33G55 2012796.83092—dc23[B]2011040170Designed by Jonathan D. Lippincott  www.sgbooks.com 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Frontispiece: Joe Gans in August 1906, in Goldfeld, Nevada, beore his fght with Battling Nelson
(The Gary Schultz Collection)
 
H
e had an unmarked ace except or a modest scar above theouter corner o each eye and a small amount o pufness belowthe let—remarkable or someone approaching, at minimum, his187th proessional prizefght. He was trim, with broad, slopingshoulders, but stood just 5 eet 6
1
 ⁄ 
2
inches and weighed about140 pounds. A photograph o him taken in 1906 shows him shirt-less, arms olded across his midsection, his upper body spectacu-larly muscled.One August evening that year, Joe Gans rode a train deepinto the Nevada desert. The newly built rail line extended southor twenty-six miles, the brie last leg o a trip that had taken himrom San Francisco’s East Bay up the mountains to Reno, thento a seemingly endless journey to Tonopah, Nevada, and on to- ward a mining boomtown called Goldfeld. A group o settlershad named it three years earlier ater prospectors had come upon yellowed rocks that held the promise o a great gold strike.In thirteen years as a proessional boxer, Gans had crossedthe country several times by train. On dierent occasions he hadtraveled rom the East Coast to fght in Oregon, San Francisco,Los Angeles, and Seattle. He had seen the desert. But it hadnever been his destination. And it never would have been exceptthat he, like the prospectors aboard the train, was being luredacross a wilderness o sand and sagebrush by a quest or wealth.They went or the gold. He went or the payday that came with
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