Hollywood Legion Stadium

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Legion Stadium

The Hollywood (American) Legion Stadium was one of the two major boxing venues of Los Angeles from the 1920s on, the other being the Olympic Auditorium. It was the most stable and most successful venue in California during the 1920s and 1930s. Its cards were held on Fridays.

It opened as an 8,000-seat venue August 12, 1921, under the auspices of World War I veterans, American Legion Post No. 43. It was closed for a short time to add an arched roof over the formerly open-air venue, and reopened Dec. 16, 1921. It once again was closed briefly on July 11, 1923, to sink the boxing ring six feet, increasing the pitch of ringside seats so that all patrons had a good view of the ring, and to add a ventilation system that recycled the air every 10 minutes. According to the Los Angeles Times of the day, the venue then accommodated 5,100 people. (Other sources say the seating was reduced to 4,500.)

A second version of this venue opened on Sept. 2, 1938 with a capacity of about 6,300, and at a cost of $250,000.

Black boxers were not allowed to fight here until 1940.

On March 15, 1952, shows moved from the regular Friday night slot to Saturday nights. The reason for the move was the televising of boxing shows from the East Coast on Friday nights, which had eroded attendance and made sell-outs rare. With the move, the Legion Stadium intended to televise their shows as well, showing them locally on television station KECA.

The feature films Hollywood Stadium Mystery (1938), Spirit of Youth (1938) and Waltzing Around (1929) used Hollywood Legion Stadium as a shooting site. The first two films are readily available but the only known copy of Waltzing Around exists in the Library of Congress.

The Hollywood Legion Stadium closed in 1959. It became the Legion Lanes Bowling Alley, between North Gower Street and Centro Avenue. Today it is a LA Fitness facility: [1]

Program with Harry Greb on cover

Some of the people associated with this venue include:

  • George Blake: Referee from the start until ?
  • Roy Marshall: Manager from its opening
  • Frank Crowley: Matchmaker from its opening
  • Tom Kennedy: After Roy Marshall and Frank Crowley abruptly resigned July 23, 1923, Kennedy became the matchmaker until March 24, 1925. He was a movie actor, and one of the original "Keystone Cops." His first card was conducted August 24, 1923. [2]
  • Walter S. Long became the manager after the resignations of Crowley and Marshall.
  • Tom Gallery: Replaced Tom Kennedy. He quit Nov. 11, 1931. (Reportedly, he had been a child actor.)
  • Charlie McDonald: Took over the management for 15 years.
  • Gene Doyle: Became the manager of the Hollywood Legion Stadium in late 1931/early 1932 when Tom Gallery, the venue's manager/matchmaker, resigned after the club was hit hard by the Great Depression. Doyle also served as its Publicity Director during at least the early-mid 1930s.
  • Bobby Jackson: From January 1, 1948 until June 18, 1948. He had been the building superintendent for about 20 years when he replaced Charlie McDonald, briefly, in 1948.
  • Baron Henry von Stumme: From June 25, 1948, until June 1950.
  • Cal Working: From 1950 until October 1, 1953
  • Hap Navarro: Matchmaker who replaced Cal Working from 1953 to October 1, 1955. Prior to that, he had been the Assistant Matchmaker since late 1948, whose duties was to put out the weekly program, including the cover story "Parade of Champions." He also had a column in the programs called "The Latin Touch."
  • Jackie Leonard: Replaced Hap Navarro, lasting until September 1959, when he defaulted on the lease at Hollywood Legion Stadium, thus becoming the final matchmaker at this venue.
  • Actress Mae West: see the 2016 book by Springs Toledo In the Cheap Seats. He dedicates an entire lengthy chapter to Mae West entitled "The Ringside Belle." (Her father, Jack West, was a boxer based in Brooklyn, New York, who fought under the name Battlin’ Jack West in the 1880s-1910s.)

  • "Legion Stadium Television Experiment Starts Tonight" Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1952
  • Photos: [3]
  • Only in Hollywood.org: [4]
  • Google Search Results: [5]
  • Souvenir Program (signed by Willie Ritchie)
  • "Daze with Jordan the Lion" Vlog: [6]