Born Gerald Slaughter in El Paso, Texas in 1898, Baby Joe Gans moved to Los Angeles with his mother at a young age. He worked as a tire vulcanizer for the Huntington Rubber Co. before taking up professional boxing in 1922.
Baby Joe Gans, who in 1926 fought in the lightweight division, took his ring name from the old time great, heavyweight Joe Gans. As an ex-newsboy, he had a loyal following among the Angel City’s paper hustlers. In November 1926 he took part in Carlo Curtis’ fundraiser for the newsboys Thanksgiving dinner at the Main St. Gym with rival and fellow ex-newsboy, Mushy Callahan; the much -anticipated scrap between the two popular fighters at Vernon earlier that year had ended in a win for Joe.
Though his ring career took him increasingly away from California, Los Angeles didn’t forget Baby Joe and turned out in force whenever he returned to Olympic Auditorium. After hanging up his gloves in 1937 he settled in Milwaukee, Wis. where he worked as a boxing instructor and was active in the Golden Gloves program. But he retained ties to his adopted home town, where his son Herman still lived. He died of a heart attack in 1959 and is buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles.
Top image: Winkler collection, Notre Dame