During the early years of the 20th century, San Francisco promoters served up boxing's grandest spectacles, with the most compelling matches coming in the lightweight division. On February 22, 1910, a crowd of more than 15,000 braved chilly, rainy conditions to witness one such match, pitting lightweight champion Oscar ""Battling"" Nelson against Adolphus ""Ad"" Wolgast. Spectators were rewarded with an epic battle, one that came to stand virtually unchallenged as the most brutal fight of all time. This volume recaptures that historic fight while vividly illuminating the backdrop and the confluence of geographic, historic, and political forces that made it all possible. In chronicling these colorful boxers and their vibrant era, this work also reveals the dangers faced by workman pugilists like Nelson and Wolgast, making their tale, at its heart, a cautionary one.
Sociologist Arne K. Lang has taught at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the University of Nebraska, and Tuskegee University. A leading authority on the history of boxing and the history of American sports gambling, he lives and writes in Las Vegas, Nevada.