One of the most storied venues in boxing history, the "Grand Olympic Auditorium," located at 1801 South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, CA, USA, opened August 4, 1925, for a crowd consisting of jewel-clad Hollywood stars, prominent tuxedoed citizens, and "common" folks. (Then-World Champion Jack Dempsey earlier had shoveled the first pile of dirt for the groundbreaking ceremony.) Its first boxing program was on August 5, 1925. The original seating capacity was 10,400 (although this included "standing-room only" patrons). It had one huge ground floor, with the boxing ring at its center. It also had an enormous balcony that stretched diagonally away in every direction toward the roof. The boxers' dressing rooms and showers were on the southern side of the basement floor.
The Olympic had weekly boxing shows during the 1920s, '30s, and '40s -- usually on Tuesday nights. It later shifted to Thursdays during the 1950s. After the Hollywood Legion Stadium shut down in 1959, the Olympic's shows moved to Fridays and Saturdays, and ran continuously until 1980. The Olympic Auditorium ran spot shows during the early 1980s, before closing later that decade. It had lost much of its luster due to age and the decay of its surrounding neighborhood.
In the late 1980s it was refurbished extensively and its seating capacity reduced to 7,500. The arena reopened for Oscar De La Hoya's WBO Lightweight Title defense against John Avila in 1994. As of early 2005, it still held boxing shows. In the summer of 2005 it was sold to a Korean-American church group, who renamed it the "Glory Vision Center." As a result, the famed building ended its long, glorious history as a boxing venue.
Matchmakers and Promoters
The many people associated with the Olympic include:
- Jack Root: the first manager of the Olympic. He was a former World Light-Heavyweight Champion.
- Tom S. Andrews: the first matchmaker at the Olympic. He perhaps is better known for his record books.
- Joe Levy: Matchmaker from 1925 to early 1927. Also shared matchmaking duties with Wad Wadhams at the Olympic for a brief period in 1931. He managed Mexican Joe Rivers and served as a matchmaker or promoter at a number of other boxing venues as well.
- Frank Garbutt: A prominent Los Angeles businessman who was a major driving force in the Los Angeles Athletic Club; the owner of the Olympic Auditorium for many decades.
- Jack Doyle: promoter from early 1927 to 1933.
- Wad Wadhams: matchmaker from early 1927 to 1933. Shared some of the matchmaking duties with Joe Levy for a brief period in 1931.
- Tom Gallery: promoted cards at the Olympic for awhile after Doyle. He was a boxing man who was involved in staging cards in Hollywood and San Francisco during the 1920s and the 1930s in addition to the Olympic. In addition, he was a network executive during television's early days.
- Joe Waterman: a longtime boxing man who was the matchmaker at the Olympic starting in 1935 with a great deal of success. Had several stints as the matchmaker at Olympic, the last one ending in 1942.
- Luis Magana: did the Spanish-language publicity from the late 1930s to 1984, before moving to Boston, MA, where as of 2005 he still resides.
- Suey Welch
- Jimmy Murray
- Joe Lynch: staged cards at the Olympic during the early 1940s
- Babe McCoy: the matchmaker at the Olympic from 1942 to the middle 1950s. He is regarded as the driving force at this famed arena during the period.
- Cal Eaton
- Aileen Eaton
- Cal Working: matchmaker for a brief period from 1956 to 1957.
- George Parnassus
- Don Fraser
- Mickey Davies
- Rogelio Robles
- Don Chargin: matchmaker during the 1970s.
- Silent movie comedian Buster Keaton's 1926 boxing comedy Battling Butler and Clint Eastwood's 2004 drama Million Dollar Baby were filmed, in part, in the Olympic Auditorium.
- Final boxing show was held June 10, 2005, with Vernie Torres winning an 8 round technical decision over Salvador Casillas.