Lovelock goes to the Olympics

Lovelock goes to the Olympics

Lovelock goes to the Olympics

Everyone was broke. It was the middle of the Great Depression, a global disaster. But boxers live to compete. So Joseph Ignatius Lang (1911-1990) found the means to get from Lovelock to Los Angeles for the 1932 Summer Olympics.

A Marzen House exhibit tells part of Lang’s story. At 14 years old he enrolled in a correspondence course - “How I Became a Champion and Why.” At eighteen, he aced his lessons. He won an amateur boxing tournament in Reno, as a flyweight.

That same year, Lang quarterbacked Pershing County High School’s football team to a state championship. He also played four years of basketball and competed in rodeo.

After graduation, Lang studied at Saint Mary’s College – where he rose to captain of the school’s boxing team – the fighting Gaels.

The newspapers kept track of the hometown hero. The Nevada State Journal (NSJ) noticed when Lang and brother, Lawrence, spent a weekend in Lovelock visiting their parents, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Lang.

“They had as their motor guest William Stoddard, fellow college student,” said the NSJ.

The NSJ also noted that Lang qualified for the Olympics by grabbing the runner-up spot at the 1932 Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) tournament.

“Young Lang got his muscle pounding tin in his father’s sheet metal and plumbing shop,” said the front page story that sent the boxer off to the Olympics.

The athletes represented 20 disciplines – some familiar and others not generally associated with the Olympics. Weightlifters bunked with boxers. Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestlers competed alongside equestrians. There was even an art competition for sports-related themes in architecture, music, painting, and sculpture.

Takeichi Nishi and his horse, Uranus, won the gold medal in show jumping. In 13 years, Nishi would die at Iwo Jima, as an Imperial Japanese Army officer and tank unit commander.

Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrickson won two gold medals in track and field. She said she earned her nickname after scoring five home runs in a grade school baseball game. Babe Ruth was her hero.

And then there was Joseph Ignatius Lang, from Lovelock, an 118-pound bantamweight. On the big day, he won his first two matches but fell in the semifinals, beat by Hans Ziglarski from Germany.

Lang got hurt badly enough in the semifinals that he could not compete in the Bronze level bout against Jose Villanueva. He ended the day in fourth place.

After the Olympics Lang turned pro. From 1933 – 1935 he competed all over California and Nevada. He finished with a career professional record of eight wins, three losses, and two draws.