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Notes on Two Excellent Boxing Books by Arne K. Lang



By James Stillerman – Arne K. Lang published his second boxing book this year entitled, ‘The Nelson-Wolgast Fight and the San Francisco Boxing Scene, 1900-1914.’ This book does an outstanding job at discussing boxing`s introduction into the San Francisco`s scene, important figures and fights from this area as well as an in-depth look into the eponymous lightweight title bout between Champion, “Battling” Nelson and Ad Wolgast which took place on February 22, 1910 in Point Richmond, California.

“I wrote this book because I`m extremely fascinated with the first decade of the 20th century which had some of the most storied fights in the sport including the second Nelson-Wolgast bout. Many boxing experts are in general accord that this was one of the most brutal fights of all time,” said Lang.

‘The Nelson-Wolgast Fight and the San Francisco Boxing Scene, 1900-1914’ is published by McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers and is priced at $35.00 for a soft cover. This and his first boxing book, ‘Prizefighting: An American History’ (hardcover for $55.00) can be ordered from www.mcfarlandpub.com or through Amazon.com.

“The Nelson versus Wolgast bout is a focal part of this book because it a great fight that no one ever talks about,” said Lang. “This bout which was stopped in the 40th round, never received its proper due from boxing historians, perhaps because of Nelson`s marathon bout four years earlier with Joe Gans was considered his signature fight.
The Nelson-Wolgast bout was a better fight than Nelson-Gans because it was more action packed. This fight was so brutal that famous American sports journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Herald Tribune, W.O. McGeehan, who covered the bout as a young reporter and went on to cover numerous significant fights, would write that for sustained savagery, there was never another fight compared to it.

This book is excellent at uncovering and detailing the significant fights and individuals during the early 1900s in the San Francisco area which is a time period that most boxing fans are not as familiar with nor is there a great deal written about it; yet this was an important part of boxing when the sport really started to take off. During this time period, boxing was one of the three great American sports along with baseball and horse racing and an important fight like Nelson versus Wolgast riveted the American sporting public like no other single day sporting event. This bout, held in a makeshift outdoor arena, was witnessed by more than 15,000 individuals, despite the horrible weather.

‘The Nelson-Wolgast Fight and the San Francisco Boxing Scene, 1900-1914’ is a spin – off of Lang`s first book, ‘Prizefighting: An American History’ where he had a great deal of interesting material left on the cutting room floor, so he decided to write a second book. The widely acclaimed ‘Prizefighting: An American History’, which was published in 2008, gives a fresh and unique perspective of the long storied boxing history. He primary focuses on the sport outside of the ring by giving readers an up close and personal look at boxing from humble beginnings of bare knuckle boxing in the 18th Century in London, England, to overcoming the legal, social, economic and moral struggles of the sport, to transforming itself into what it is today with million dollar fights in Las Vegas, Nevada, all through the eyes of important boxing legends, as well as promoters, writers, and various racial groups.

“I started with an extremely narrow focus of gambling in boxing during the Queensbury Era with this book and then the story got bigger and bigger to eventually become an overview story of boxing where I followed boxing`s influential figures and important fights from the beginning of the sport to where it is now,” said Lang.
Both of these books are highly recommended to any reader because they are well written and researched.

“I hope both of these boxing books appeal to individuals interested in sports as an aspect of popular culture, rather than boxing per se,” said Lang.

Lang has been involved in every facet of the sport of boxing in Las Vegas, Nevada from being a ring announcer, writing about boxing for various media publications to covering the sport on radio. He taught sociology as a graduate student at the University of Nebraska and was a full time faculty member at UNLV and Tuskegee. Lang has written extensively about college football for various media publications and is a former Sports Information Coordinator for the Stardust Race and Sports Book. He lives and writes in Las Vegas, Nevada.