Joe Gans: A Biography of the First African American World Boxing Champion

Mark Scott and Colleen Aycock


Mark Scott and Colleen Aycock

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Joe Gans overcomes the obstacles and prejudices of Jim Crow America to become the first African American world boxing champion.


Action, Adventure, Biographical, Drama, Epic, Historical Fiction

Short Summary

In the 1890s, an African American oyster shucker begins making extra money in royals,” a Jim Crow era event where young black men fight five to ten at a time, often blindfolded, and the last one standing wins a small sum. Gans shows extraordinary fighting talent and becomes a professional prize fighter. He soon becomes known as the “Old Master" of the prize ring. By the year 1900, Gans is known as by far the best fighter in the world. However to get a legitimate shot at a world title, he must throw a fight first so that the power that be can make a quick betting fortune. The result is a near disaster for Gans.

Gans redeems himself at the first “Fight of the Century,” which is the precursor to the later million-dollar gates and the huge purses that are earned today with cable television etc. The crookedness of the sport resurfaces; and Gans is forced lose weight for the fight to the point that he soon succumbs to tuberculosis However he is victorious under the blazing sun in Goldfield Nevada against Battling Nelson. He becomes a national hero. A few years later, crowds line the streets for miles in Baltimore at his funeral, straining to catch a glimpse of “the Old Master.”


Baltimore, Chicago, Goldfield, Nevada

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Overcoming Monster/Villain, Rags to Riches, Quest

Plot - Other Elements

Information not completed

Mature Audience Themes

Nudity, Substance Abuse

Main Character Details

Name: Joe Gans is a man determined to do something great with his life. His talents lie in boxing, and he succeeds in becoming “the greatest 3xpert who ever lived in the use of the human fist.”

Age: Early 20’s,early 30’s at end of story

Gender: Male

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous, Aspiring, Complex, Confident, Decisive, Empathetic, Engaging, Extraordinary Power or Abilities, Flexible, Funny, Gracious, Heroic, Honorable, Leader, Lone Wolf, Masculine, Modest, Perseverance, Religious, Romantic, Sarcastic, Secretive, Seductive, Selfless, Sexy, Skillful, Strong Moral Code, Underdog, Visionary.

Additional Character Details

Name: Abraham Lincoln (Al) Herford

Age: Late 40s

Gender: Male

Role: Mentor, Tempter

Key Traits: Adventurous, Aggressive, Aspiring, Blunt, Charming, Clumsy, Complex, Confident, Crazy, Criminal, Decisive, Educated, Engaging, Funny, Greedy, Leader, Manipulative, Outspoken, Patriotic, Perseverance, Power-hungry, Religious, Romantic, Sarcastic, Skillful, Sophisticated, Unapologetic, Visionary, Villainous.

Additional Character Details

Name: Madge Wadkins is a singer/actress who becomes Joe Gans' wife. She has to confront racism and sexism. She plays a big part in Gans' rise to fame. She develops and then overcomes an addiction to opium.

Age: Mid 20s

Gender: Female

Role: Tempter, Lover

Key Traits: Adventurous, Aggressive, Aspiring, Beautiful, Charming, Complex, Confident, Empathetic, Engaging, Faithful, Flexible, Funny, Gracious, Heroic, Honorable, Insecure, Outspoken, Perseverance, Romantic, Sarcastic, Secretive, Seductive, Selfless, Sexy, Skillful, Sophisticated.

Additional Character Details

Name: Eubie Blake is Gans' best friend who later becomes a famous musician Gans hires him to play piano at the Goldfield Hotel, named after the famous boxing match in Goldfield.

Age: Early 20s

Gender: Male

Role: Sidekick

Key Traits: Adventurous, Aspiring. Charming, Confident, Empathetic, Engaging, Extraordinary Power or Abilities, Faithful, Flexible, Funny, Gracious, , Honorable, Outspoken, Perseverance, Skillful, Sophisticated, Unapologetic, Visionary.

Development Pitch

About The Author

Target Audiences

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Group Specific

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Publishing Details

Status: Yes

Publisher: McFarland

Hard Copy Available



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Supplemental Materials

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