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minstrel hussain boy

i knew about gans, because i'm a history geek and boxing fan.

one of the things i love about boxing is the way all the political, business, and social scheming will finally result in two scantily clothed men in a ring hoping to settle it all with their fists.

when gans, johnson, and those guys fought there wasn't anything like a "decision." fights never went to the scorecards because nobody kept stuff like that. fights went on until one or the other was unable to continue. both wyatt earp and bat masterson in their later years made money in the ring as referees.

despite the pervasive and firmly entrenched racisim of our culture at the turn of the 20th century, it was boxing where black men first achieved anything remotely resembling equality. gans and johnson both became wealthy doing something that anywhere else would have been grounds for lynching.


Beautifully written and wonderfully educational, Lance.

You can (theoretically) download the film of the Gans-Nelson fight here.

IMDB tells me the company ran out of film after the 38th round.


This story, either the Joe Louis story or the Jack Johnson story seems to have played itself out over and over again every generation without the previous generation noticing. Here's Brian Phillips (secretly the best sportswriter in the world) in an article about the real real real first black champion Tom Molineaux back in 1810:

I'm curious how far back this little story keeps reincarnating. I suspect if you found yourself in Ancient Rome on the right day in the coliseum, you'd see much the same story.


Ever hear of a boxer named Mannion?

Sean Mannion, that is.

He's a cousin of mine, though I've never met him. A minor story, but still interesting. Boxing stories usually are.

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