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Joe Gans and the Goldfield Hotel

Historic Sites, Monuments, Landmarks, and Public Art (State Historical Landmark)

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In 1902, Baltimore native Joe Gans won his place in history as the first African American world boxing champion, but his most infamous fight was still four years away. In 1906, he boxed a grueling 42 rounds against Oscar Nelson in Goldfield, Nevada, before claiming victory. The impact of this win on Gans and his fans led the boxer to found the Goldfield Hotel in Baltimore, commemorating his hardest-fought win. The hotel's nightclub is also notable for being among the first integrated entertainment spaces. The hotel once stood in this spot, on the corner of East Lexington and Colvin Streets. The hotel was later used as a grocery store and then eventually it was demolished in the 1960s and is now the site of a post office complex.

Joe Gans Marker
Goldfield Hotel and Nightclub
Joe Gans
Flier for Gans' most famous fight against Nelson in 1906 in Goldfield, Nevada.

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Joe Gans, born Joseph Saifuss Butts on November 25th, 1874, was the first American-born black boxing world champion.  Butts was adopted and took his mother’s last name, Gant. The media, however, often mispronounced his name, so he changed it to “Gans.”  It was in 1902 when he won “the world lightweight boxing title in Fort Erie, Canada, with a spectacular one-round knockout of the defending champion, Frank Erne.” 2  Gans was known as the “Old Master” and was one of the first to fight with gloves, “following an era of bare-kunckles fights”. 2  For eighteen years he fought in three divisions:  featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight.  He achieved 150 career wins with at least 100 knockouts. 2

Joe Gans put a lot of his prize winnings back into his community.  He opened a saloon, a gymnasium, as well as the Goldfield Hotel and its nightclub.  Gans opened the Goldfield Hotel with his winnings from one of his most famous fights against Oscar Nelson in 1906. 3  The fight lasted 42 rounds and Nelson ended up being disqualified for personal fouls. 1  In 1908, Gans rematched Nelson two times in which he lost both matches. 3

The Goldfield Hotel opened on October 29th, 1907, with a “gala celebration and crowds overflowing on Colvin Street (then Chestnut Street).” 1  The hotel’s club is where Eubie Blake, a future jazz great, got his start as a piano player.  The club was one of the first integrated clubs in the nation. Furthermore, Gans' success with his hotel venture led to other boxers following in his footsteps, with heaveyweight champion Jack Johnson founding a nightclub in New York.

Joe Gans died at the age of 35 from tuberculosis on August 10th, 1910.  The hotel was later used as a grocery store and then was demolished in the 1960s.  Now the site is home to a post office complex.  The marker was erected by friends of Joe Gans and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. 1

Sources

1. "Joe Gans and the Goldfield Hotel Marker." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed February 17, 2015. http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=40431.
2. "Welcome To The Glory Days of Boxing." Joe Gans. Accessed February 18, 2015. http:/javascript:;www.joegans.com/joe-gans.html.
3. "November." Maryland State Archives. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc5600/sc5604/html/november.html.

Address
Colvin and East Lexongton Street
Baltimore, MD 21233
Tags
  • African American History
  • Music and Entertainment History
  • Sports History
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This location was created on 2015-03-30 by Jessica Young .   It was last updated on 2017-02-11 by Clio Admin .

This entry has been viewed 942 times within the past year

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