The 150th “Old Master” Celebration recognizes the life and legacy of Joseph Gant (more commonly referred to as Joe Gans), Baltimore’s native son, and first Black American to win a world title in the sport of boxing. Gaining the ring title, “The Old Master,” Gans was a master strategist and tactician, and one of the earliest practitioners of the "scientific" approach to boxing. To this day, Gans is considered one of the greatest lightweight fighters of all time. Beyond his success in the ring, Gans paved the way for future Black athletes and the Black community at large through his words, through his actions, through his investments, and through his fists. His battles in the ring were more than entertainment-- they were herculean fights against a society that deemed blackness as inferior. He suffered greatly from these battles but remained determined, quietly defiant, and hopeful through his final moments of life.
Joe Gans life, albeit short, left a legacy rivaled by few. His story is one of Black history. His story is one of sports and boxing history. Most importantly, Joe Gans is the story of the great city of Baltimore. In 2024, the sesquicentennial year of Joseph Gant, Baltimore will finally and officially recognize the powerful legacy left behind by the “Old Master” by placing its native son within the pantheon of our city’s greatest contributions to the world.