- Michael L. Krenn
boxer. Joe Gans was born Joseph Gaines in Baltimore, Maryland. As with so many African American boxers of that time, relatively little is known about his early life, his schooling, or the names and occupations of his parents.
Gans was discovered by the Baltimore boxing manager Al Herford while participating in what was known as a “battle royal” at a local theater. This cruel form of sport involved throwing several young black men into a boxing ring to fight it out until only one was left standing. In 1891 Gans entered the ranks of professional boxing as a lightweight. During the 1890s Gans was virtually unbeatable, suffering just three defeats in more than seventy fights. In 1900 he got his first shot at the lightweight title against the white champion Frank Erne At Gans s request the fight was stopped in the twelfth round after Gans suffered severe ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.