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Joe Gans and the Goldfield Hotel Historical Marker
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.” Gans was known as the “Old Master” and was one of the first to fight with gloves, following an era of bare-knuckle fights. For eighteen years he fought in three divisions: featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight. He achieved 150 career wins with at least 100 knockouts.
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. The fight lasted 42 rounds and Nelson ended up being disqualified for personal fouls. In 1908, Gans rematched Nelson two times in which he lost both matches.
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.
Sources1. "Joe Gans and the Goldfield Hotel Marker." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed February 17, 2015. http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=40431.
3. "November." Maryland State Archives. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc5600/sc5604/html/november.html.
Baltimore, MD 21233
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