The Longest Fight: In The Ring With Joe Gans, Boxing's First African American Champion
New Book Examines Life of the First American Black Athlete to Successfully Cross Nation's Racial Divide
NEW YORK, July 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Joe Gans was the first African American champion of the world—smart, trim, handsome, with a revered right hook. He was the first black man in Baltimore to own a car, and the saloon he owned was the first place in the city where blacks and whites mingled socially. And yet Gans—as interesting a sports hero as America has ever produced—is largely unknown today.
The Longest Fight (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2012) will change all that. Award-winning journalist William Gildea examines the life and career of Gans, one of the seminal figures in the sport of boxing, whose courage in the face of discrimination, prefigured the strife faced by many of America's finest athletes, including Muhammad Ali, Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson.
Gildea uses Gans' achievements in the ring to paint a deeply affecting account of what it was like to be an African American sports champion in the early twentieth century. Today in America, a black man can be president. But a hundred years ago one could barely conceive of a black man being able to establish himself as the best in any walk of life. Gans succeeded despite smothering discrimination, wishing, even when he was champion, for "a white boy's chance in the world."
The Longest Fight follows Gans' life from a waif on the Baltimore waterfront to the world champion he became, only to die young, at 35 from tuberculosis. The centerpiece of the book focuses on the 1906 boxing match between Gans and Oscar "Battling" Nelson. Promoted as a "battle of the races," the forty-two round fight became the longest boxing match of the twentieth century. The book not only explores what it was like for Gans to be the first black athlete to successfully cross the nation's gaping racial divide but also examines life for African Americans during the turn of the last century—a time of bigotry that outlived Gans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
William Gildea is an award-winning journalist who worked at The Baltimore Sun from 1963 to 1965 and The Washington Post from 1965 to 2005.
To set up an interview with the author please contact
Kelly Keane at 410/321-0137 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE William GildeaBack to top