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Joe Gans' Book Review
Please note that the purpose of this post is to categorically refute the misrepresentations contained in the review of our book "Joe Gans: A Biography of the first African American World Boxing Champion" in the July, 2009 issue of the The Ring magazine.
The review is not a book review of a biography of Joe Gans; it is a blog, in defense of Nat Fleischer, founder of The Ring magazine, for which we have the utmost respect.
The reviewer’s knee-jerk attack of us took the authors and other reviewers of this book completely by surprise. The review is nothing but a screaming, rambling "how dare you" find fault with our founder, Nat Fleischer.
What set the reviewer off (for which he based his entire review) was 2 pages of our book where, in Ch. 6, we discuss Fleischer's description of one of Gans' fights. As every boxing historian knows, Nat Fleischer was not all that accurate in describing many early fights. Such was the case for the first Gans-Erne fight, and we stand by our research and the description of that fight.
Contrary to the review, we did not, in any way, try to make a "bogeyman" out of Nat Fleischer. We could have, for example, taken Fleischer to task for his racist language, such as calling black fighters “the Ethiopian Menace” or “the Sons of Ham,” (the latter, a biblical reference that was used at the time to justify slavery.) But this was not a book about Nat Fleischer and we did not discuss this subject. We used only those comments about Gans’ fights, and we put those comments in the context of the times.
When we were first notified of the rabid, trashing of the book, we were disappointed, but shrugged it off, as something we couldn't control, by someone who had some other axe to grind. But when we received so many messages from people who were incensed by the heavy-handed review, we decided to address these inaccuracies head on.
Please note, that we never say Nat Fleischer "single handedly" buried Gans. In addition, we were stridently accused of being politically correct, which sounds as if the reviewer has some problem with this himself. Strangely, the reviewer picked sound bites of our prose, quoted them, and then twisted them into incoherent attacks of Nat Fleischer.
By the way, here is our final word on the subject of Nat Fleischer (considering we don't say that much about him):
p. 240. "Nat Flesicher, as noted, embraced the racist attitudes of his day to some degree, but this did not prevent him from acknowledging the greatness of black fighters. In the late sixties, having had time to see fighters up until Muhammad Ali's day, he picked blacks as the greatest fighters in several divisions, including heavyweight, welterweight, and lightweight. Jack Johnson was his pick at heavyweight, Barbados Joe Walcott at welterweight, and Joe Gans at lightweight."
Now, does this sound like maniac prose against Fleischer, or that we accuse Fleischer for “single-handedly” burying Gans in the “backwater of history?” We truly hope the Ring's review doesn't cause anymore disservice to Gans, and that readers will judge the book without being influenced by this unfair, biased and inaccurate blog that is better left on something like “MySpace.”
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