Born Joseph Gant ( November 25, 1874 – August 10, 1910), he was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Gans was rated as the greatest lightweight boxer of all time by boxing historian and Ring Magazine founder, Nat Fleischer and was known as the “Old Master.” He fought from 1891 to 1909. Gans started boxing professionally about 1891 in Baltimore. In 1900, Gans quit with an eye cut in the twelfth round of the world lightweight title bout against champion Frank Erne. In their rematch two years later, Gans knocked Erne out in one round to recapture the lightweight title.
Gans reigned as champion from 1902 to 1908. In an important title defense he defeated the “Durable Dane,” Oscar “Battling” Nelson, on a foul in 42 rounds on September 3, 1906 in Goldfield, Nevada by promoter Tex Rickard. When they fought again two years later Gans lost by a knockout. He died in August 1910, of tuberculosis and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Baltimore. His monument is maintained by the IBC (International Boxing Commission) and sits just to the left of the main entrance of the cemetery. Gans is generally considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time, pound-for-pound. “I was born in the city of Baltimore in the year 1874, and it might be well to state at this time that my right name is Joseph Gant, not Gans. However, when I became an object of newspaper publicity, some reporter made a mistake and my name appeared as Joe Gans, and as Joe Gans it remained ever since.” This is confirmed by primary sources, such as The Sun (Baltimore, MD) on October 24, 1893 – “Joseph Gant and Buck Myers, colored”; The Sun (Baltimore, MD) on November 28, 1893 – “A six-round sparring match between Wm. Jones and Joseph Gant, colored light-weights”, etc. Gans had a final professional record of 145 wins with 100 knockouts, 10 losses, 16 draws, 6 no contests and 19 no decisions (Newspaper Decisions: 13-2-4)
Goldfield had reached a peak population of about 30,000 people in 1906 when it hosted the lightweight boxing championship match between Joe Gans and Oscar “Battling” Nelson.