Wad Wadhams

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Wad Wadhams

Hayden "Wad" Wadhams was the first great matchmaker in the Los Angeles area. After staging cards at a short-lived four-round club named the Western Athletic Club in Los Angeles, Wadhams would become the matchmaker at the Vernon Arena (or Doyle's, not to be confused with Tom McCarey's open-air Vernon Arena of an earlier day). The owner and promoter of the Vernon Arena was Jack Doyle, who also owned a training camp and a highly successful bar in Vernon. Wadhams would work for Doyle as a matchmaker from 1916 to 1933.

With Wadhams as the matchmaker, boxing cards featuring only scheduled four-round bouts would be staged on a weekly basis at the Vernon Arena with a great deal of success. As a result, the Vernon Arena would become the most important boxing venue in Southern California.

In the days of boxing cards featuring only four-round bouts, there would be five to ten bouts on a card staged at various venues in California. Since a regular Vernon Arena card had six or seven bouts, it meant that Wadhams had to line up twelve or fourteen boxers for a single card.

Soon after World War I ended, there would be two boxing cards a week staged at Vernon Arena (a new and larger version was built in late 1923) for a year or so. As a result, Wadhams had to line up enough boxers for twelve to fourteen bouts a week. It could be that Wadhams was one of the most active matchmakers in the world at the time.

In early 1927, Jack Doyle shut down his Vernon Arena due to the fact he leased the Olympic Auditorium from the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Wadhams continued to be the matchmaker for Doyle. As a result, Wadhams was the matchmaker who put together the cards that drew the first $100,000. boxing gates in California history. The first card featured George Godfrey and Paolino Uzcudin in the main event while the second one featured Mickey Walker and Ace Hudkins in a main event for Walker's World Middleweight Title.

In both a professional and a personal sense, the 1930s were not kind to Hayden "Wad" Wadhams. Boxing shows at the Olympic Auditorium would be hit hard by the hard times caused by the Great Depression.

In early 1931, the promoter at the Olympic Auditorium, Jack Doyle, instituted the dual matchmaker system by hiring Joe Levy to do the everyday duties while Wadhams was to do the matchmaking on the big shows. This was interpreted as a demotion for Wadhams by a Los Angeles Times sportswriter.

But the Olympic would continue to struggle and Levy quit during the latter part of 1931 with Wadhams taking over all of the duties. In 1933, the Olympic hit bottom. It got so that opening up the Olympic and staging a boxing card didn't draw a big enough gate to make it worthwhile. As a result, the Olympic was dark for many weeks during 1933. The final straw was when the World Welterweight Title bout between Young Corbett III and [[Jimmy McLarnin]] was a flop at the gate, losing about $20,000. As a result, Wadhams resigned and Doyle got out of the promoting business.

Wadhams attempted to stage boxing cards in Sacramento after quitting as the matchmaker of the Olympic Auditorium. Despite featuring some very talented boxers on his cards in Sacramento, Wadhams had a very tough time there.

It appears that Wadhams tried to stage a rematch between Joe Louis and Lee Ramage in 1935, but was shut out. Wadhams may have been lucky because the said rematch drew a gate of about $15,000 and a crowd of about 12,000 at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. It was thought that the promoters broke even. Since Louis was an exciting young heavyweight (and facing a capable heavyweight in Ramage, who lasted until the eighth round in the first bout) who would be drawing huge crowds and large gates in other parts of the United States, the gate figures of his rematch with Ramage show that things were tough in the boxing scene in the Los Angeles area at the time with the notable exception being the Hollywood Legion Stadium boxing cards. It also shows why Joe Waterman was considered a miracle man in Los Angeles when the Olympic Auditorium professional boxing cards drew a little over 400,000 fans in 1936.

During the late 1930s, Wadhams became paralyzed. As a result, there was a benefit planned for him at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. Wadhams died at the age of 56 in 1940, leaving behind a widow and three children.