USA: Washington State Laws

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Washington State Boxing Legislation, Rules, & Regulations


  • 1905-07-05: Fred Ross dies of a dislocated neck and a blood clot in the brain sustained during a bout July 3 in Aberdeen, Washington--becoming the first ring fatality in the state. This created the biggest headlines the town's newspaper had ever published to that date.
  • 1906-07-24: Seattle Police Chief Wapperstein prohibits any more prize-fighting in the city, because all it does is draw a "gang of crooks." [1]
  • 1906-09-29: The "ring-death" of Johnny Crowe spells the end of boxing in the city of Everett and its environs for years to come. (According to the Sept. 30, 1906 San Francisco Call, Everett was the only place in Washington state where boxing was permitted. [2])
  • 1906-10-10: While Kid Parker, Dude Lewis, Kid Scaler and Louie Long train for their upcoming bouts, Prosecutor Barnhart says he will allow no boxing in Spokane County. The Spokane Press reports he is overstepping his authority because there is no law prohibiting boxing. [3]
  • 1909: Legislature adopts Section 2556 of Ballinger’s Code:
PRIZE FIGHTING, AIDING, BETTING OR STAKE-HOLDING:-- Every person who shall engage in, instigate, aid, encourage, or do any act to further an encounter or fight with or with out weapons, between two or more persons, or a fight commonly called a ring or prize fight, or an encounter commonly called a sparring match, with or without gloves, or who shall send a challenge or acceptance of a challenge for such an encounter or fight; or who shall carry or deliver such a challenge or acceptance, or shall train or assist any person in training or preparing for such an encounter or fight; or who shall bet, stake or wager money or other property upon the result of such encounter or fight; or hold or undertake to hold any money or other property so staked or wagered, to be delivered to, or for the benefit of the winner thereof, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor: Provided that nothing in this section shall be so construed as to interfere with members of private clubs sparring or fencing for exercise among themselves.

People find a way to get around this new law. Because it allowed private clubs to have "sparring or fencing for exercise" (boxing) among its members (and for the enjoyment of their fraternal brothers, it was argued), the American Legion Posts, Eagles, Elks, Moose Lodges, Knights of Pythias, and other private athletic clubs would conduct smokers for their "members." Anyone wishing to witness a match was required to obtain a membership card and levied an assessment for the seat. (Such "memberships" might expire as soon as the show was over. [4]) The boxers were paid "training expenses." The authorities generally turned a blind eye to these bouts. [5][6] When pressed, the promoters termed these bouts "amateur." But most of these fights were generally included in these boxers' official fight records. The distinction between amateur and professional (or even "semi-pro") bouts could get muddled. [7][8] Prizefighting was later legalized June 8, 1933.

  • 1909-01-21: King County Sheriff Robert T. Hodge bars all further prizefighting in Seattle. Tacoma Times [9]
  • 1909-07-28: John Cort, proprietor of the arena at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, gets a temporary against Sheriff Hodge's prohibition of boxing. [10][11]
  • 1910-02-23: Spokane Police step in and stop an amateur smoker "because they believed several individuals would enrich themselves"--including Jack Kearns. Spokane Press [12]
  • 1910-10-14: Prizefighting to resume in Walla Walla, with a new organization to be formed under state law. Tacoma Times [13][14]; "Is Fight Lid Off?" in Walla Walla: [15]
  • 1910-12-15: Professional boxing remains "held down tight" in Spokane, while "allowed" in other towns. Spokane Press [16]; Wenatchee Daily World [17]
  • 1910-12-31: Kittitas County Sheriff bans boxing in the county. Cle Elum Echo
  • 1911-02-01: Tacoma City legislators pass resolution prohibiting the scheduled Denver Ed Martin-Jack Lester bout. Tacoma Daily News; Seattle Star [18]
  • 1911-02-10: A bill to permit ten-round no decision bouts with six-ounce gloves is introduced in the state legislature by Rep. Wray of Seattle. Former World Champion Tommy Burns and Promoter Lonnie Austin are in Olympia lobbying for its passage. Seattle Star [19] Later that month it passes in the House of Representatives, 49-44, and then went to the Senate for consideration. [20]
  • 1911-March: The so-called "Tommy Burns" bill to legalize 10-round prizefights with 10-ounce gloves, no decision to be given, is defeated. [21][22]
  • 1911-04-04: Vancouver (WA) City Council OKs boxing. Tacoma Daily News; unlimited rounds allowed. April 7 Tacoma Times [23] (A month later, "no more boxing" in Vancouver, and the Vancouver A. C. dissolves. [24])
  • 1912-02-22: Tacoma Athletic Club is incorporated, and will offer "amateur" bouts. Tacoma Times [25]
  • 1913-02-01: A bill patterned somewhat after New York legislation to legalize boxing is to be considered by the state legislature. Seattle Star [26]
  • 1913-03-13: The Hewitt boxing bill is defeated; only amateur boxing allowed. Tacoma Times [27]
  • 1914-01-12: Seattle Star reports that there has been no boxing in Seattle for over a year. [28]. But it appears the last Seattle boxing card was held in July 1913. [29]
  • 1914-12: Chief of Police Loomis prohibits boxing in Tacoma. Tacoma Times [30]. (Chief Loomis nearly does the same thing a year later. [31])
  • 1915-01-13: "Curtains for Boxing in Seattle" after the ring-death of "Jack Newton" (Ludwig Anderson), proclaims the Seattle Star [32]. King County Prosecutor Lundin promises to bar all future public contests in the county.
  • 1915-01-21: Senator Wray introduces a bill to legalize boxing, permit 10-round bouts, and establish a boxing commission. Tacoma Times [33]
  • 1915-03-31: Boxing suspended in King County. Everett Morning Tribune
  • 1915-12-18: Pierce County Prosecutor Remann will shut down boxing in the county, effective Jan. 1, 1916. Tacoma Times [34]
  • 1916-02-16: North Yakima Council prohibits all boxing in the city. Tacoma Times [35]
  • 1916-03-10: Tacoma authorities "put the lid" on boxing. Everett Morning Tribune
  • 1917-04-19: King County Sheriff John Stringer "puts the lid" on boxing in the county and in the city of Seattle until it is conducted in a "better manner." Everett Daily Herald (Everett, WA); Seattle Star [36]
  • 1918-02-02: No more purses allowed for Camp Lewis (U. S. Army) boxers. Tacoma Tribune
  • 1919-09-11: The Bremerton Evening News recommends that city and county officials endorse "a regularly scheduled arrangement of well-ordered boxing programs," because of the coming of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the need to entertain sailors, and because Bremerton has "an unusually large number of fight fans." "A town which stands for clean, orderly and well-managed boxing contests is always pointed out as a community of credit." (Bremerton recently had become a USN "home port" and "formally came into its own as the leading navy yard of the Pacific Coast district yesterday." Sept. 16 edition)
  • 1920-07-18: The Seattle Boxing Commission adopts a new set of rules, borrowed from Eastern ring codes, that ban the kidney punch, or being 10 or more pounds heavier than one's opponent. Also, one referee cannot officiate an entire card any longer. There must be at least two referees, alternating bouts on the card.
  • 1920-12-04: All boxing is indefinitely suspended in Seattle "until things get straightened out." Everett Daily Herald
  • 1921-01-29: First bouts conducted since the suspension was lifted--benefit for families of four police officers slain in gun battles with bandits during the previous two weeks.
  • 1921-02-02: Bill to legalize boxing is introduced in Olympia. Bellingham Herald
  • 1921-10-19: Draws no longer allowed in Seattle. Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1922-06-09: Joining Aberdeen, Yakima, Walla Walla, and Vancouver, Seattle adopts six-round bouts. It had conducted two-minute, six-rounders in the past before fans voted in favor of three-minute four-rounders. Seattle Daily Times
  • 1922-07-06: Manager Fred Winsor is on the "black list" of the Seattle Boxing Commission. Spokane Spokesman Review
  • 1922-10-18: Seattle Boxing Commission suspends boxing, due to "bad outside influences." Los Angeles Times
  • 1922-12-21: All proceeds must go to charity, per edict of Spokane's Commissioner of Public Safety. They are not to be a "meal ticket" for boxers. Spokane Spokesman-Review
  • 1923-January: Boxing is to resume in Seattle after a grand jury concludes that, as conducted in King County, it is not in violation of state law. Jan. 12 Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1926-06-12: City of Cathlamet revives boxing after an absence of several years. Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1926-08-04: The "referee system" is to return to Tacoma boxing. Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1927-02-09: A bill to legalize 10-round bouts is defeated in the state legislature by a vote of 52-45. Daily Morning Olympian
  • 1927-02-11: The University of Washington (Seattle) makes boxing an intercollegiate sport. Wenatchee Daily World
  • 1928-06-05: Dr. Abraham Poska is appointed to the Seattle Boxing Commission (joining Dr. James T. Moriarty and Phil M. Cook). Daily News Searchlight (Bremerton, WA, USA)
  • 1929-01-01: On a card at the Crystal Pool, the Seattle Boxing Commission reintroduced the system of using a referee and two judges.
  • 1929-02-05: Eddie Cartwright dies of injuries sustained in a Seattle ring. A bill pending in the Washington state legislature to legalize professional boxing is quickly withdrawn.
  • 1929-03-28: King County Sheriff Bannick bans all further shows at the White Center Athletic Club, in response to the ring-death of Eddie Cartwright. The WCAC reopens April 24 as an amateur club under ex-heavyweight Floyd Johnson. Seattle Daily Times
  • 1929-04-26: The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs denies the Swinomish Tribal Community's request to stage ten-round bouts on their Reservation. Seattle Daily Times
  • 1929-05-06: Spokane bans boxing--Daily Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA). Boxing banned in Spokane County by Prosecuting Attorney C. W. Greenough. Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1930-01-28: "Professional" boxing resumes in Seattle on a club membership plan. Everett Daily Herald
  • 1930-02-18: Thirty members form the Seattle Boxing Association in Room 104, Labor Temple, Seattle. The first elected officers are President Jim Malone, Vice-President Bill Bethal, Secretary Red Gage, "Inner Guard" Ike Cohen, and a committee of Mike Pete, Morrie Lux, Frankie Rogers and Irving Gleason is appointed to look up club rooms for future meetings. "Following the session, Malone dined the boys at Boldt's." Seattle Union Record
  • 1930-03-24: Frank Farmer dies of injuries sustained in a Tacoma ring. Efforts in the Washington state legislature to legalize professional boxing are stopped.
  • 1930-04-05: Boxing resumes in Spokane, after Prosecuting Attorney Greenough's May 1929 suspension. Bellingham Evening News
  • 1931-03-03: American Legion boxing bill is vetoed by the governor, having passed the Senate by a vote of 24/17, and the House by 25/45(?). Daily News Searchlight (Bremerton, WA)
  • 1932-Winter: Bellingham's American Legion club abandons boxing shows. Per Oct. 13 Bellingham Evening News. (Wrestling shows will now dominate instead.)
  • 1932-11-20: New Bellingham ordinance regarding "sparring" versus "boxing" -- after Vergil Perringer of the Whatcom County Law Enforcement League had protested the licensing of boxing matches, on the ground that they were outlawed by state statutes. Bellingham Evening News
  • 1933-01-19: Senate Bill 72 introduced to legalize boxing, sponsored by Senator H. L. Williams of Spokane and five others. It needs 24 yays to pass (but fails by one vote at first).[37] (The bill eventually passed Jan. 25, but apparently another bill is substituted.)
Spokane Spokesman-Review
  • 1933-03-04: Substitute 10-round boxing bill for Washington passes the house. Spokane Spokesman-Review
  • 1933-06-08: Professional boxing is legalized in the state, effective this date. (Horse-racing is also legalized in the state, resulting in Longacres Race Track [38]. Alcohol prohibition also ends nation-wide, with the election of the liberal Franklin D. Roosevelt as President [39], resulting in the opening of countless taverns state-wide.)
  • 1933-05-27: Gov. Clarence D. Martin names the three inaugural members of the newly-created Washington State Athletic Commission, which was to organize on June 2--including Bill Mulligan (graduate manager of Gonzaga University), George Adams of Seattle, and Arthur E. Grafton Sr. of Tacoma. [40]
  • 1935-12-09: The first annual Pacific Northwest Golden Gloves Tournament commences at Seattle's Crystal Pool.
  • 1942-03-27: State Athletic Commission meets in Seattle to stimulate war-time boxing. Daily News Searchlight (Bremerton, WA)
  • 1948-Feb: State legislature passes a law, barring boxers over the age of 38, from being licensed by the State of Washington. This rule was written with the obvious intent of forcing the retirement of 41 year old Tiger Jack Fox, who was given a license until the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 1948). This rule may have been changed at a later date for other boxers (i.e., Eddie Cotton)
  • 1948-04-13: The State Athletic Commission discloses new regulations, "drastically tightening the state boxing rules." These include: 1) mandatory 30-day suspension if knocked out, and a thorough physical examination before boxing again; 2) any boxer knocked out six times in a row or within six months will be suspended; 3) mandatory eight-count after every knockdown, regardless of how soon the boxer regains his feet; 4) a complete physical examination, including fluoroscope, every 90 days for all boxers licensed in the state; 5) less tape on boxers' hands; 6) better ring padding; 7) ring doctors authorized to stop a bout when a contestant is in no shape to continue; 8) and a closer check of managers, trainers and seconds. Tacoma News Tribune
  • 1949-01-27: Governor Langlie names an entirely new state athletic commission. The appointees are Dr. Leslie C. Simkins, 44, Seattle dentist; William P. Hopkins, 31, Spokane auto man; and Howard R. Smith, 49, Tacoma advertising man. All three are war veterans.