Desperate for a payday despite his champion status, Baltimore-born Lightweight legend Joe Gans endured archaic conditions in boxing’s most brutal era, at times doing battle with no scheduled end. These (5) vintage photographs were captured at Gans’ epic bouts with Battling Nelson. Each sepia-toned photo measures 8-1/4 x 6-3/8” and is mounted to a thick cardboard backing. Taken at Colma, California’s Mission Street Arena, the photos show boxing action (including knockdowns of Gans). More on our website.
Regarding the Gans vs. Nelson series, Gans (the first-ever black champion) traveled by train to Goldfield, Nevada for the first of their head-to-head fights on September 3, 1906. Virtually penniless, Gans agreed to the $11,000 payday (as opposed to the $34,000 that went to Nelson). In the 42nd round, Nelson was disqualified because of a series of low blows. In 1908, the two met twice more. It was at those fights that at least (4) of these (5) photographs were captured. Includes:
1.) July 4, 1908 World Lightweight Title Fight; Gans and Nelson are pictured shaking hands in the ring (likely before the fight, as both appear fresh and the crowd appears to be at capacity). Printed text (as it appeared on the original negative) reads: “Nelson Gans Contest, S.F. July 4, ’08 Won by Nelson, 17 rounds, K.O. Dana Photo, S.F.”
2.) September 9, 1908 World Lightweight Title Fight; Captured just before the opening bell, Gans is in his corner and Nelson is awaiting near the center of the ring. Printed text (as it appeared on the original negative) reads: “The Start of the Nelson Gans Contest, Sep. 9, 1908, Eddie Smith, Referee, Dana Photo, S.F.” Photo has a tiny puncture near the center but still presents nicely.
3.) September 9, 1908 World Lightweight Title Fight; Photo shows 21st-round action as Nelson scores a knockout of Gans. The printed text (as it appeared on the original negative) read: “The K.O. at the Nelson-Gans Fight, Sept. 9, ’08, Eddie Smith, Referee, Dana Photo, S.F.”
4.) This photo appears to be from one of the above-mentioned dates (July 4, 1908 or September 9, 1908), as Gans is on the canvas and Nelson is standing. There is no printed text, but a vintage handwritten notation reads “Dana Photo.”
5.) While there is no printed caption (only a handwritten “Dana Photo” notation), this photo may very well be from the first Gans-Nelson bout (September 3, 1906), as Gans is dressed in light-colored shorts (he wore dark shorts in the above-listed photographs). Photo and backing have a crack but are otherwise complete.