Joe Gans was a legend in the profession of boxing. After 11 years of fighting, he won the world lightweight title by knocking out Frank Erne in one round at Fort Erie, Ontario.
Gans was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and was the first African-American World Boxing Champion of the 20th century. Very little is known about his childhood. He started boxing professionally around 1891 in Baltimore, shocking the world with his “scientific” approach to the profession. He was known to find his opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and use them to his advantage by developing a plan.
Gans was a slim man, weighing around 135 pounds; however, he frequently fought against opponents who were a lot heavier. Due to an eye injury in the twelfth round of his first World Lightweight Title against reigning lightweight champion Frank Erne, the fight ended in a TKO. In their rematch two years later, Gans knocked Erne out in one round to convincingly take the World Lightweight Title.
He fought against Oscar “Battling” Nelson for the World Lightweight Title on July 4 and September 9, 1908. Gans lost by a knockout, ending his long and impressive reign. He continued to fight until 1909.
Shortly after his last fight, Gans died of tuberculosis in 1910. Gans had a final professional record of 145 wins with 100 knockouts 10 losses. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. A bronze statue of Joe Gans is in the lobby of Madison Square Garden.