"Panama" Joe Gans
(Cyril Quinton Jr.)

BORN   November 14 1896; Barbadoes, British West Indies
WEIGHT 147-160 lbs
MANAGER Leo. P. Flynn

Gans was an outstanding talent; Like many great fighters of the past, he was dodged when it came to the major world title fights; Of course, he did fight for the black titles and South American titles

While fighting out of Panama (prior to 1917), Gans won the Lightweight Championship of Panama, the Middleweight Championship of South America, the Middleweight Championship of Central America; He later won the Colored Middleweight Championship

During his career, he defeated such men as George Robinson, Joe Borrell, "Allentown" Joe Gans, Tiger Flowers, Jack Blackburn, Marty Cross, Andy "Kid" Palmer, Jimmy O'Gatty, Willie Walker and "Italian" Joe Gans

Lifting his hands wearily, Panama Joe Gans raised his diamond studded belt high above his head. Tucked beneath a white quilt and a thick green blanket, he lay in his bed surrounded by doctors and newspapermen. "I don't draw the color line," the fighter told the eager reporters, "I'll fight anyone near one hundred and sixty pounds, white or black." His thick accent cut his words short, drowning them in thick tones and causing them to tail off in his deep chest. His eyes were sunken and yellow, his motions visibly weakened by his illness. His mustard, brown skin shone lightly with a hint of sweat, living for a moment on his brow before disappearing in a small river down his cheek. He was then motionless as the doctors poked and prodded him. "Pneumonia," wrote Daymon Runyon, "seems to be the only thing that can lick this Carmel -Colored King of the middleweights".

-- From The Caramel Covered Kings, unpublished

Panama Joe Gans was perhaps one of the finest pugilists of boxing's Golden Age. But his name is not one that will be forever linked with Dempsey, Greb, Walker, Villa or Leonard. His is a name that has fallen into an abyss, lost in the obscurity of old record books and dusty magazines, buried amongst the mounds of forgotten fighters of the past. Damon Runyon said that it was pneumonia that kept Gans from reaching the top. A more discerning eye would surely note that it was simply the color of his skin. He was a black fighter at a time in America when black fighters received few breaks.

Panama Joe Gans was born Cyril Quinton Jr. in 1896 on the small tropical Island of Barbados. At a young age he and his family moved to Colon, Panama. His father died when he was very young and after being picked up by the local authorities for stealing fish he spent the next five years of his life in a detention center. Here he learned the rudimentary aspects of boxing participating in impromptu bouts organized by his classmates.

Once released from the detention center, Quinton, needing money desperately, began taking part in saloon smokers in Colon against a motley mixture of sailors, servicemen and ruffians. It was not until he hooked up with a local businessman and real estate magnate named HR Cambridge that Quinton, fighting under the assumed name of Panama Joe Gans, began his official career as a prizefighter.

Gans fought his first 30 bouts in Panama -- winning the Lightweight Championship of Panama and the Middleweight Championship of South and Central America -- before signing with Leo P. Flynn and coming to the US in 1917. Panama Joe settled in Harlem where he soon became a crowd favorite, fighting mainly in Boston and New York. Some of his early victims included Jamaica Kid, Cleve Hawkins and Battling Thomas. In 1919 Gans burst into the upper echelon of fighters by knocking out Young Fischer, lacing former Jack Dempsey opponent Wild Burt Kenny, and gaining a "newspaper" decision over Jeff Smith in Atlantic City. Unfortunately for Gans his sudden success would prove to be a hindrance. His winning streak which should have moved him closer toward a title bout actually pushed him further away. He would immediately receive the label of a fighter "too good for his own good". Panama Joe Gans long frustrating journey into the realm of a black contender had begun.

The year 1920 saw Gans appearing in occasional charity bout and fighting in virtual obscurity in the small clubs around Harlem. His luck would change when he was called upon to serve as a sparring partner for then Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey who was preparing for a title defense against Billy Miske in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Gans, who was outweighed by close to 40 pounds, gave Dempsey a series of furious sparring sessions and gained the interest and accolades of the press and general public alike. Unfortunately the only thing Gans would gain from his experience at Dempsey's camp was a shot at the newly created World's Colored Middleweight Championship.

Gans won the "Colored Championship" by defeating George Robinson in 15 rounds at Madison Square Garden on October 9, 1920. He would defend his mock title with regularity but found it increasingly difficult to find bouts against top quality white opponents. Panama Joe fought a total of 15 bouts in 1920 winning them all. But any momentum that he had built up along the way was quickly curbed in January 1921 when he contracted pneumonia.

Panama Joe was out of action for close to five months and did not make his return to the ring until fighting to a no decision with Jackie Clark in May 1921. Title talk began to surface when Gans again went on a winning streak that included victories over future Lightheavyweight Champion of the World Mike McTigue for the American Lightheavywieght title and two of the better black middles of the time -- George Robinson and Sailor Darden. However, an October 12th loss to Jock Malone (his first in over three years) in Boston would again kill his momentum and force Gans and his handlers to regroup.

Panama Joe rebounded nicely from his loss to Malone by posting 9 straight victories (6 by kayo) to round out his year. Among his victims were a young Tiger Flowers who Gans starched in 6 rounds and an aged George Gunther whom he knocked out in one. At this point in his career Panama Joe Gans was considered one of the best in the business. He fought a total of 14 bouts in 1922 and lost only twice (being disqualified in a bout with Andy Palmer for hitting after the bell and losing a dubious decision to Young Fischer in the latter's hometown of Syracuse). But the fact that Panama Joe was one of the most feared and respected fighters in the game did nothing to bolster his chances at a title shot. The dreaded color line had been drawn and Gans would need to be content with simply fighting on.

1923 was another banner year for Gans. He fought two sensational battles with Italian Joe Gans, losing the first bout and winning in a heroic struggle in the second. He would also revenge defeats to both Andy Palmer and Jock Malone. He defended his "colored" title three times knocking out Whitey Black in eight rounds, Willie Walker in nine and fighting a no-decision with Tiger Flowers over 12. Panama Joe was again riding on the crest of a tremendous wave when his career again came to screeching halt. Soon after fighting a draw with Morrie Schaffer in Omaha, Nebraska, Gans again contracted pneumonia.

Doctors told Panama Joe Gans that he would never fight again. They said he'd be lucky if he ever ran again. But after spending more than two months bed-ridden, Gans, against the wishes of his doctors, made a miraculous return to the ring kayoing a serviceable Jack Palmer. Joe followed his return victory over Palmer with consecutive defeats of George West (W8) and Ted Kid Herman (W10) respectively, but he was by no means the same fighter who had battered Jock Malone around a St. Paul ring less than eight months prior. The tell-tale sign that Gans' bouts with pneumonia had taken a serious toll was in his title defense against former amateur champion, and fellow Harlemite, Larry Estridge.

Gans and Estridge met at Madison Square Garden on a Milk Fund benefit card in a bout for Panama Joe's Colored Middleweight Championship. The first round was an even affair with both men probing with their jabs and measuring each other cautiously. But when Estridge pressed his attack in the second it spelled certain doom for Gans. A right-left combination dropped the champion to his fingertips and when he rose without a count Estridge moved in for the finish. Panama Joe hung on but was groggy and cut by the end of the round. The rest of the bout was called an "unexcelled exhibition of gameness" by one New York Times reporter, Gans fighting on "instinct and courage alone," taking a battering and losing his coveted title. He would get another crack at Estridge when the latter agreed to a return bout but the result was the same with Gans taking a lacing for twelve bloody rounds. Estridge became the new darling of Harlem, and word began to circulate that Panama Joe Gans was through.

Panama Joe Gans was not through but his days as a world-beater certainly were; he was never again considered a title threat. Gans finally retired in 1928 after a career that spanned over 131 bouts and fourteen years. Gans scored 58 knockouts in his 93 career wins, (an incredible percentage considering that he was often outweighed by seven pounds or more), and although he was knocked down in more than one of his bouts, he never failed to hear the final gong.

During his prime Gans was a machine. Consider that from April 26, 1918 -- when Gans was defeated by Joe Rivers of Gloucester, Ma in eight rounds [a defeat he avenged a month later] -- until October 21, 1922, Joe's record was 52-1-1 with 8 no decisions and 32 knockouts: true championship numbers.

Unfortunately for Panama Joe Gans he fought at a time when race was more important than character and those men who ran boxing could not see the component and character of a man like Joe. To add to this injustice he has been forgotten by boxing, his name one that we really read, his story one that we rarely hear.

Now, nearly seventy years after Panama Joe Gans fought his last bout, we must set the record straight -- Panama Joe Gans was one of the best of his era, white or black.

1998 Kevin Smith

       Young Steadman                                              KO  1
       Kid Murray                                                  KO  6
       Mike O'Connor                                               KO  4
       Kid Graves                                                  KO  6
       Slammer Jordan                                              KO  3
       Battling Terry                                              KO  9
       Kid Bailey                                                   W 15

Feb 15 Billy Shea                 Colon, Pan                        W 15
Feb 20 Kid Coldhurst              Colon, Pan                       KO  6
Mar 15 Kid Bain                   Colon, Pan                        D 15
Jun  6 Sailor Richards            Colon, Pan                       LF  1
Jul  3 Sam Rufus                  Panama City, Pan                  D  6
Sep 11 Young Johnson              Panama City, Pan                 NC  8
Oct 10 "Young" Sam Langford       Panama City, Pan                  W 15
Oct 17 Sam Rufus                  Panama City, Pan                  W 15
Nov 14 Mickey Harrison            Colon, Pan                       KO 18
Nov 25 "Young" Sam McVea          Panama City, Pan                 KO 10

Jan 11 "Young" Sam Langford       Panama City, Pan                  W 20
Feb 12 "Young" Sam Langford       Panama City, Pan                 KO 12
Apr 15 Jerry Parquet              Panama City, Pan                 TK  5
May 17 Willie Rothwell            Panama City, Pan                 TK  4
Jun 11 Mickey Harrison            Panama City, Pan                 TK  4
Jul 16 Kid Bain                   Panama City, Pan                 LF 12
Oct 15 "Young" Sam Langford       Colon, Pan                        W 20
Nov 11 Jim Briggs                 Panama City, Pan                  W 15
          -Middleweight Championship of Panama
Nov 30 Benny McGovern             Panama City, Pan                 KO  3
Dec 12 Abe, the Newsboy           Panama City, Pan                  W 20

Jan 12 Jim Briggs                 Panama City, Pan                  W 15
          -Middleweight Championship of Panama
Mar 12 Benny McGovern             Panama City, Pan                 LF  6
Mar 17 "Young" Sam Langford       Panama City, Pan                 KO  5
Jun 25 Tommy Madden               New York, NY                     ND 10
       Willie Davis               New York, NY                     ND 10
Jul 31 Zulu Kid                   New York, NY                     ND 10
Aug 20 "Young" Battling Nelson    New York, NY                     ND 10
Aug 24 Walter Mohr                Brooklyn, NY                     ND 10
       Johnny "Kid" Allen         Brooklyn, NY                     ND 10
Sep  4 George "Kid" Alberts       Bethlehem, Pa                    KO  6
Sep  7 George Ashe                New York, NY                     ND 10
Sep 17 Lew "K.O." Williams        Brooklyn, NY                     WF  8
Oct 19 Walter Mohr                Brooklyn, NY                     ND 10
Oct 26 "Young" Battling Nelson    Harlem, NY                       ND 10
Oct 29 Walter Mohr                Brooklyn, NY                     ND 10
Nov  3 Fred Dyer                  Brooklyn, NY                     ND 10

       Kid Wiley                                                    W 12
Mar 12 George Robinson            Boston, Ma                        L 12
          -Some sources report "L 10";
           Some sources report 3/15/18
Apr  2 Kid Green                  Boston, Ma                        W  6
Apr 23 Battling Thomas            Boston, Ma                        D  6
Apr 29 Battling Thomas            Boston, Ma                        W  8
Apr 30 Joe Rivers                 Boston, Ma                        L  8
May 21 Joe Rivers                 Boston, Ma                        W  8
Jun  7 Battling Thomas            Boston, Ma                        W 10
Jun 11 Joe Rivers                 Boston, Ma                        L  8
       Cleve Hawkins                                                W 12

Jan 27 Bobby Gleason              Atlantic City, NJ                ND  8
Mar  3 Jamaica Kid                Philadelphia, Pa                 ND  6
Mar  7 Harry Robinson             Baltimore, Md                     W 10
Jun 21 Britt Simms                Baltimore, Md                     W 10
Jul  8 Jeff Smith                 Atlantic City, NJ                ND  8
Sep 29 Eddie Trembley             Bridgeport, Ct                    W 12
          -Some sources report "ND 8" on 9/30/19
Sep 30 Al Wise                    Syracuse, NY                     TK  8
          -Some sources report 10/07/19
Oct 23 "Wild" Bert Kenny          Atlantic City, NJ                ND  8
Dec 16 Paul Dixon                 Syracuse, NY                     ND 10

Feb 27 Morris Tasco               Baltimore, Md                    KO  5
Mar  1 Eddie Trembley             New Bedford, Ma                   W 12
May 11 Jamaica Kid                Norfolk, Va                       D 10
May 24 Young Fisher               Rochester, NY                    KO  5
May 28 "Young" Sam Langford       Detroit, Mi                      KO  9
Jun 15 Young Fisher               Syracuse, NY                     ND 10
Jul  4 Speedy Miller              Detroit, Mi                      KO  3
Jul  6 Battling Thomas            Syracuse, NY                     ND 10
Jul 10 Frankie Carbone            Syracuse, NY                     ND 10
Jul 26 Frankie Carbone            Rochester, NY                    ND 10
Jul 30 Cliff "Kid" Patillo        Philadelphia, Pa                 TK  4
Oct  8 George Robinson            New York, NY                      W 12
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World;
           Some sources report "W 10" on 10/09/20
Oct 19 "Cowboy" Lee Williams      New York, NY                     KO  4
Oct 22 Morris Tasco               Detroit, Mi                      KO  3
Nov 26 George Christian           New York, NY                     KO  3
Dec  3 Jim Hosic                  Detroit, Mi                      KO  3
Dec 13 Young Jackson              Auburn, NY                       KO  3
Dec 29 Clarence "Sailor" Darden   New York, NY                      W 10

May 27 Jackie Clark               Allentown, Pa                    ND 10
May 30 Kid Black                  Memphis, Tn                       W  8
Jun  6 George "Kid" Alberts       Detroit, Mi                      TK 10
Jun 24 George Robinson            Syracuse, NY                      W 15
          -Some sources report "W 10" on 7/01/21
Jul  4 Jack Stone                 Atlantic City, NJ                KO  4
Aug  8 Theodore "Tiger" Flowers   Atlanta, Ga                      KO  6 
Aug 15 Carl Hertz                 Jersey City, NJ                  KO  6
Aug 27 Alec Gibbons               New York, NY                      W 12
Sep  5 Mike McTigue               Jersey City, NJ                  ND 12
Sep 13 Clarence "Sailor" Darden   Rochester, NY                     W 10
Oct  5 Clarence "Sailor" Darden   Syracuse, NY                      W 15
Oct 12 Jock Malone                Boston, Ma                        L 10
Oct 21 Nero Chink                 New York, NY                      W 12
          -Some sources report 10/22/21
Oct 24 "Young" Herman Miller      Harrisburg, Pa                    W 10
Nov 28 Joe Borrell                Trenton, NJ                      TK  9
Dec  6 "Allentown" Joe Gans       Harrison, NJ                     KO  6
Dec 12 Cliff "Kid" Patillo        Columbus, Oh                     KO  2
Dec 15 Theodore "Tiger" Flowers   Atlanta, Ga                      KO  5
Dec 26 Jerry Hayes                Philadelphia, Pa                 KO  2
Dec 28 "Young" Sam Langford       Detroit, Mi                      KO  9

Feb 13 Charley "Indian" Rogers    Detroit, Mi                      TK  8
Mar 31 Young Dennis               Springfield, Oh                  KO  4
Apr  7 Indian Horner              Lima, Oh                          W 10
Apr 10 Jamaica Kid                Detroit, Mi                       D 10
May 22 Nero Chink                 Havana, Cu                        W 12
Jul  4 Frankie Denny              San Francisco, Ca                 W  4
          -Some sources report "Oakland, Ca"
Jul 12 Frank Barrieau             Oakland, Ca                       W  4
Jul 24 Jack Blackburn             Indianapolis, In                 TK  4
Oct 27 Andy "Kid" Palmer          Brooklyn, NY                     LF  6
Nov  6 Joe Libby                  Atlantic City, NJ                ND  8
Nov 17 Al Wise                    Syracuse, NY                     TK  7
Nov 18 Marty Cross                New York, NY                      W 12
Dec  1 Young Fisher               Syracuse, NY                      D 12
Dec 14 Young Fisher               Syracuse, NY                      L 12
          -Some sources report 12/15/22
Jan  6 Andy "Kid" Palmer          New York, NY                      W 12
Jan 31 Andy "Kid" Palmer          New York, NY                      L 12
Feb  6 "Italian" Joe Gans         New York, NY                      L 12
Feb 17 Jimmy O'Gatty              New York, NY                     KO  5
Mar 19 Mike Dempsey               Rochester, NY                     W 15
Mar 31 "Cowboy" Lee Williams      New York, NY                     KO  9
May 14 Whitey Black               Detroit, Mi                      ND 10
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World
May 25 Theodore "Tiger" Flowers   Toledo, Oh                       ND 12
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World
Jun 30 Willie Walker              New York, NY                     KO  9
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World
Aug  1 Lou Bogash                 New York, NY                      L 10
Sep 15 "Italian" Joe Gans         New York, NY                      W 12
Oct 22 Whitey Black               Rochester, NY                    KO  8
Nov  9 Jock Malone                St. Paul, Mn                     ND 10
Dec 12 "Irish" Danny Fagan        Manhattan, NY                    KO  8
Dec 17 Morrie Schlaifer           Omaha, Ne                        ND 10
          -Some sources report "L 10"

Apr 26 Jack Palmer                New York, NY                     KO  8
May  9 George West                Brooklyn, NY                      W 10
Jun 16 Tillie "Kid" Herman        East Chicago, Il                 ND 10
Jun 26 Larry Estridge             Bronx, NY                         L 10
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World
Aug 11 Larry Estridge             Long Island City, NY              L 10
          -Colored Middleweight Championship of the World
Oct 25 Eliseo Quintana            Kingston, Jam                    LF  2 
Nov 30 Lefty Michaels             Colon, Pan                       TK  4

Feb 14 "Young" Harry Wills        Panama City, Pan                 KO  7
Feb 23 Eliseo Cantano             Barbados, BWI                    KO  2
Aug  1 George Levine              New York, NY                      L 12
Oct 12 Harry Martone              Jersey City, NJ                  ND 12

Mar  7 Kid Charol                 Havana, Cu                        L 12
          -Some sources report 3/06/26
Mar 27 Martin Perez               Havana, Cu                       KO  6
May 22 Willie Ptomey              New York, NY                      D 10

Jan 3	Homer Robertson		  Lowell, Ma                        L 12
         -Some sources report "L 10"

Feb 10 Frank Baldi                San Juan, PR                     KO  6
Mar  2 Rafael Plata               San Juan, PR                      L 10
Apr 29 Alejandro Villanueva       San Juan, PR                      D 10
Jun 10 Francisco Soler            Mayaguez, PR                      L 10

*** The Following Bout Is Reported But Not Confirmed ***

Sep    Battling Gahee             Detroit, Mi                      ND 10

Record courtesy of Tracy Callis and Kevin Smith, Historians,
International Boxing Research Organization
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