Silver State Sights: The site of the fight part II

Published: Feb. 13, 2023 at 4:14 PM PST
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GOLDFIELD, Nev. (KOLO) - The small town of Goldfield sits along U.S. 95 in Esmeralda County. According to the 2020 census, it is home to 225 people. Knowing that, it might be hard to believe that it was once home to one of the biggest sporting events of its day.

Tommy Lane, a boxing promoter and historian, shared his insights into the fight that was held on September 3rd 1906. It was a lightweight bout between Joe Gans of Baltimore and Oscar Matthew “battling” Nelson, a Danish born immigrant.

“The mining towns wanted an attraction to get the name of the town written up in papers across the country,” Lane explained. “So what better way to do that then to have a prize fight.”

Lane compares that technique what you see in casinos today. The business surrounding the fight can be bigger that the fight itself.

Promoted by Tex Rickard, the fight came during the peak of the Goldfield mining boom, when 20,000 people lived there. More than 6,000 attended the fight that was scheduled for 45 rounds.

Amazingly, the fight almost went the distance, but ended three rounds early with Nelson being disqualified for a low blow. That’s something Lane says wouldn’t always have happened in that era when a black man was fighting a white man.

“They disqualified the white fighter and treated Gans fairly,” he said. “I don’t know that I would have necessarily expected that.”