THE $PORT: Tex Rickard and Boxing's First Million-Dollar Gates

Mark Scott and Colleen Aycock

Book Cover



    Core Theme










    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

    Target Audiences

    The author has not yet written this


    Baltimore, Chicago, Goldfield, Nevada

    Based on a True Story


    Starting Description

    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.

    Ending Description

    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.”

    Pitch Adaptation

    The author has not yet written this

    WGA Number

    The author has not yet written this

    Mature Audience Themes

    Nudity, Substance Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    The author has not yet written this

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain, Rags to Riches, Quest

    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.

    Supplemental Materials

    Information not completed




    Championship boxer, Joe Gans, must overcome adverse odds and racism in and out of the ring. Boxing promoter, Tex Rickard finds a new opportunity after analyzing the boxing business model.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: GOOD

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Current profile refers to the biography of Joe Gans. Author requested a change to script/The $port.

    Draw of Story

    The premise and hook are clear from the beginning.

    Possible Drawbacks

    There are sections in the script that don't add to or necessarily complement the core story. Unnecessary or dead-end subplots.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The premise and hook are clear from the beginning.

    Fanbase Potential

    Yes. Sporting film/shows continually are successful. Boxing already has large built-in audience.

    Awards Potential

    Possibly. Dependent on performances and overall production value. Story needs more work.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    This story follows the rise of the black athlete in the boxing world.

    Lead Characters

    Maybe nothing and that's a problem. Just seem a bit ordinary and interesting in title only.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Script needs to decide whether to follow Rickard or Gans. If Rickard, the entire setup is about him being a boxing promoter and we don't see it in the script as it stands.

    Possible Formats

    TV Series - Network, TV Series - Cable, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation



    Too many areas of improvement. Dialogue is not polished. Dead end subplots. Lack of clear protagonist. Setup is about Rickland, remaining 90% about Gans.

    Tips for Improvement

    Not sure the plot is complex enough to garner sustained interest from large audiences. Needs more development/fine-tuning. Structure needs more development. Character arcs need to be refined. Lead character needs to be clear: Tex or Gans? Deeper conflict needed to retain audience attention.


    A black boxing champion must over overcome an entire system loaded with incredibly unfavorable odds and racism at every turn.

    What We Liked

    - This story has great potential. A sports film set in the 1800s doesn’t come along all the time. An action/Drama period piece set in 1897+. Posed against incredible odds/racism.
    - Key points: Sports story. Large fan base; African American lead; Boxing action; High stakes; Period Piece.


    In 1899, Tex Rickard (30) talks with friends and patrons at his saloon in Alaska’s mining country. Slightly bored, a customer in the bar mentions to Tex that he is confident people would pay money to watch a fight simply for entertainment. Just then two men start to scuffle and everyone, as predicted, heads outside anticipating the impending fight. This sparks the idea in Tex that this customer just might be right.

    Suddenly, Tex remembers an article in the paper about an upcoming boxing fight. He then shifts his focus to analyze the boxing business model. He decides to become a boxing promoter. Tex makes arrangements to fly to Chicago to see the Joe Gans vs Terry McGovern fight he read about in the paper. He arrives at the fight but is saddened, along with everyone else, as he watches the championship fighter throw the fight in the second round. A fixed fight orchestrated by a local politician named James Sizemore. A clear racist, Sizemore advocates for white supremacy and is crooked as they come, but makes a killing betting on the fight. Gans, however, loses much more than just the fight. He is discredited and pummeled by the press and literally has to escape out of town to save his life. What people and the press didn’t know was that Gans was pressured to throw the fight and Sizemore was at the epicenter of the squeeze. Just prior to the fight two thugs even approach and intimidate his girlfriend just in case he lost sight of the seriousness of the situation.

    Skipping ahead six years, Tex now owns and operates a saloon in Nevada. He finds the perfect opportunity to host a fight while discussing money with some business partners. Tex wants to raise funding through the fight. But not just any fight, a fight he coins “The Fight of the Century.”Intending to garner maximum interest, he offers Gans name as a controversial opponent. In the other corner is “Battling” Nelson, a well-known fighter as well. Race relations at this time are hectic and just the idea of a black boxer facing off against a white boxer will draw eyes. Gans, now desperate for cash, receives a telegram and accepts the fight’s terms. Despite being largely unfair and receiving less prize money for a win.

    Never to be left out of a great boxing match, Senator Sizemore lays down big money behind Nelson and preaches to his fellow racists on the importance of this win. He believes this will settle once and for all that white athletes are superior and race-mixing should remain outlawed in sports. Sizemore reminds everyone there are serious political and social consequences surrounding this must-win fight, how it would look if a black man wins. As a result, “Battling” Nelson’s manager demands unfair weigh-in requirements. It’s determined that Gans must weigh no more than 133-pounds in the ring while wearing all gear. This is not the standard but Gans complies. Finally, fight night arrives and it's an all-out battle. Nelson is tough and in great shape, but Gans has declared he will not lose this fight no matter what.

    The odds are stacked up against him as he receives multiple headbutts from his opponent during the match and even suffers a broken hand. Despite all the hardships, Nelson takes a heavy hit from Gans in round 42 and resorts to a low blow delivering a hit below the belt. Judges score that Gans has dominated the fight and is declared the winner. This win sends a big message and some are so upset that they wait outside for Gans to depart the stadium.

    About The Author

    Colleen Aycock's father was a professional fighter during the Depression. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. / Mark Scott, a novelist and former Golden Glove boxer, lives in Austin, Texas.