USA: California Laws

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History of California Boxing Legislation, Rules & Regulations

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(Enter material chronologically)

  • 1850: State Constitution prohibits all "fighting for reward without deadly weapons."
  • 1872: Boxing prohibited by state statutes.
  • 1885 May: San Francisco Chief of Police Crowley appeals to city supervisors to stop boxing. June 7, 1910 Tacoma Times [1]
  • 1893: State Penal Code defines that those liable to criminal sanctions include those "with or without gloves."
  • 1899: State law allows athletic clubs to stage amateur boxing "exhibitions." Prizefighting begins to blossom around the state under the guise of being amateur bouts staged by private athletic clubs.
  • 1902-03-12: Some clubs promoting "so-called amateur boxing contests" are charged with paying money to several boxers. San Francisco Call [2]
  • 1902-05-14: Oakland's Reliance Club to eliminate professional boxing and use only amateur talent. [3]
  • 1902-09-24: Boxer Al Ahrens testifies that an organized betting ring controls the actions of many amateur boxers in San Francisco. [4]
  • 1903-March: Oakland District Attorney Allen declares boxing is illegal. [5]
  • 1903-08-25: Boxing resumes in Oakland after a ten-month break. SF Call [6]
  • 1903-12-18: Oakland Mayor Olney expresses opposition to the monthly boxing shows. [7]
  • 1904-01-26: The Pacific Amateur Association votes to "blacklist" every "so-called 'amateur'" boxer who fought in the show the previous Tuesday, claiming that the amateur boxing exhibitions being held are professional in every sense of the word. [8] [9]
  • 1904-April: So-called 'amateur' boxers in San Francisco recently formed a prizefighters' union. Although their shows are deemed 'amateur,' to skirt local laws prohibiting prizefighting, the boxers actually get paid $30 and up for these four-rounders. They now demand $50 to $75 per main event bout. [10]
  • 1904-07-19: Boxing resumes in Los Angeles after an interval of eight months. [11]
  • 1904-11-05: Proposed anti-fight statute election 'Returns Indicate Doom of Boxing in California' -- Newark Evening News [12]
  • 1905-01-01: Johnny Crowe, Dick Hyland, Abe Label and others "are splendid fighters who pose as amateurs, but who really are semi-professionals, as they take prizes over the figure set by the Amateur Athletic Association." SF Call [13]; See also: [14]
  • 1905-04-15: San Francisco-area promoters and clubs are again accused of staging professional bouts under their amateur licenses and thus evading state law prohibiting prizefighting. The promoters claim, however, that they merely pay boxers "training expenses." SF Call [15] [16]
  • 1906-07-13: Pacific Athletic Association drops boxing from the list of sports it controls, in an effort to end four-round professional boxing that has been held about the city for years under the guise of amateur bouts. SF Call [17]
  • 1906-11-03: The San Francisco boxing association (comprised of the six clubs promoting boxing) limits purses to a maximum of $150, and cards to a maximum of six bouts (preferably five). [18]
  • 1907-01-25: Newly-elected District Attorney George F. Noble threatens to prosecute under State law fighters, promoters, seconds and spectators engaging in any prizefight or boxing exhibition in Stockton and San Joaquin County. [19]
  • 1907-11-11: 'Prize Fighting in Los Angeles is Crippled': [20] City of Los Angeles passes ordinance: bouts are not to exceed ten rounds in duration, referee is not allowed in the ring or to render decisions, and the use of any gloves lighter than six ounces is forbidden. The law is effective 30 days after Mayor Harper affixes his signature, as he was expected to do. Thus, only no-decision bouts will be allowed in Los Angeles from 1908 to 1911. In nearby Vernon (a separate incorporated entity), decisions could still be rendered by referees in bouts staged there at the time, and bouts could be unlimited, as opposed to Los Angeles's 10-round limit. [21] (By 1910, the days of professional boxing were numbered in Los Angeles, because of the growing movement to make it illegal. The no-decision law in Los Angeles became moot by 1911 when a law prohibiting professional boxing went into effect in the city. Professional boxing would be illegal in Los Angeles from 1911 to 1925, when the "Ten-Round Law" in California went into effect. In the meantime from 1911 to 1925, there were so-called "amateur" boxing shows being staged in Los Angeles (for which the boxers actually received remuneration).
  • 1908-04-18: San Francisco fight promoters of the four-round contests find a way to keep within requirements of the law allowing only private clubs to offer amateur bouts. [22]
  • 1908-04-21: City of Vallejo grants a permit to the Palm Athletic Club to conduct 45-round bouts for one year.
  • 1909-02-19: San Bernardino Mayor J. J. Hanford vetoes the City Council's anti-boxing bill, which had passed by a margin of 30-2. Tacoma Daily News (Tacoma, WA, USA)
  • 1910-02-19: Oxnard conducts its first boxing show ever. [23]
  • 1910-04-29: Tommy McCarthy dies from injuries sustained in a San Francisco bout. This soon results in a slowdown in boxing statewide.
  • 1910-05-04: Following the ring-death of Tommy McCarthy, City of Oakland police limit boxing contests to ten rounds instead of fifteen. [24]
  • 1910-06-25: 'All Prizefights Are Stopped in California', Medford Mail Tribune [25]
  • 1910-11-30: Oakland police and fire officials limit bouts to a maximum of six rounds. San Francisco Call [26] (Meanwhile, nearby San Francisco is engaged in its "four-round era.")
  • 1911-02-20: With the annihilation of racing in California, a movement begins to bring back prize-fighting. [27] By this month, boxing is back "on firm ground once more[.]" [28][29]
  • 1911-03-02: The three existing San Francisco athletic clubs--with promoters Jim Griffin, Jim Coffroth, and ? Clark--that have paid the $1,200 licensing fee to stage professional boxing, oppose the entry of the Centennial Club headed by Teddy Wolf. [30]
  • 1911-08-23: District Attorney Foltz warns that all boxing bouts in Stockton must be limited to exhibitions only, and cannot exceed ten rounds. [31]
  • 1912-01-06: San Francisco Board of Supervisors received 12 applications from athletic clubs seeking professional and amateur boxing permits--eight from those seeking to conduct the popular four-round bouts staged almost every Friday night. Two years earlier, three times as many applications had been filed. [32]
  • 1912-01-10: Newly-elected San Francisco police committee to determine whether the four-round game will continue. [33]. The matter is held in abeyance until January 26, when the new Board of Supervisors considers an ordinance to continue the four-round game on a professional basis, and eliminating the amateur provision--which was never enforced anyway. [34]
  • 1912-05-04: Oakland Police Commissioner limits bouts to ten rounds, down from 15 rounds. Tacoma Daily News
  • 1912-07-22: Initiative and referendum petitions are circulated to kill boxing in California. UP Wire Report in the Tacoma Times
  • 1912-08-16: San Francisco police committee supervisors call halt to recent activity by fight promoters who have been staging pro fights as semi-pro or amateur bouts (which are allowed). [35]
  • 1913-01-22: Senator Brown introduces a bill to ban boxing in the state. Seattle Star [36]. It comes up for consideration in May. [37]
  • 1913-05-28: San Diego City Council sustains Mayor Charles F. O'Neill's veto of an ordinance that would have permitted 20-round prizefights. [38]
  • 1914-06-08: A San Francisco Board of Supervisors' resolution to revoke all boxing permits is narrowly defeated by a vote of 9 to 8 (10 votes were required). June 10 New York Times p. 9.
  • 1914-November: Voters statewide approve an amendment limiting bouts to a maximum of four rounds, and the value of a prize to a maximum of $25.00 for a boxer. The ten year "Four-Round Era" begins. (See also {])
  • 1917-12-17: A wire report notes that boxing in the entire state was in danger of being shut down due to too much advertising of the four-round game in San Francisco and the bringing in of Eastern professionals into the local so-called "amateur" contests. [39]
  • 1920-10-21: New local boxing rules were published in the Sacramento Star
  • 1920-12-06: San Francisco Board of Supervisors bans prize-fighting, and suspends all permits, "owing to unspeakable crimes" (attacks on young women) by boxers and their associates (including K.O. Kruvosky and Spud Murphy). Oakland and Fresno soon follow suit. (Oakland City Council requires boxers to provide credentials that they have other means of support beyond boxing earnings.) [40] [41] After boxing is resumed, San Francisco will continue to ban almost all of the established boxers who had fought in their clubs prior to the ban, until boxing is legalized statewide. Many of these boxers quit fighting, or fled to other parts of California or to the Pacific Northwest. (See also, December 2015 BoxRec Forum discussion. [42])
  • 1920-12-16: Bakersfield adopts a strict boxing code. [43]
  • 1921-02-11: San Francisco allows boxing to resume, but only of the amateur variety. [44] [45]
  • 1923-05-18: Bill to legalize six-round bouts in California passes the assembly, but is tabled in the committee. The bill was presented after the defeat of a proposal to legalize ten round bouts. Fresno Bee
  • 1923-07-04: Boxing to be revived in Venice under the auspices of the American Legion. June 21 Los Angeles Times
  • 1923-early August: Boxing suspended due to President Harding's death.
  • 1924-November: Voters legalize 10 round decision bouts, and 12 round "No Decision" bouts, effective January 1, 1925.
  • 1924-12-19: The "Four-Round Era" ends with bouts conducted this day at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. California then enters a "Fightless Period" until the new state athletic commission is established under the recently-enacted legislation.
  • 1925-01-13: Los Angeles City Attorney Jesse Stephens rules that the city's boxing ordinances conflict with newly-enacted state law.
  • 1925-05-02: Sacramento bars women from acting as boxing managers. Wenatchee Daily World (Wenatchee, WA, USA) wire report
  • 1925-12-20: State athletic commission adopts a resolution requiring that boxers start boxing under their true names, beginning in 1926. Spokane Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA, USA)
  • 1926-04-08: State athletic commission rules all promoters must henceforth submit their proposed cards for state approval before announcing them to the public, per Secretary Walter A. Yarwood.
  • 1928-11: Voters in the Orange County city of Santa Ana overturn a local ban on boxing. Santa Ana holds it's first show under the state commission on January 11, 1929.
  • 1941-09-07: California joins the National Boxing Association. Sep 8 New York Times
  • 1942-November: Legislature allows for 15 round bouts; effective January 1, 1943.
  • 1943-01-11: The Eddie Booker-Jack Chase bout becomes the first 15-rounder in San Francisco in 29 years.
  • 1956-Apr or May: California abandons the Australian Scoring System, and converts to the ten-point must system in use by the NBA.

See also, Boxing in the Los Angeles Area: 1880-2005 by Tracy Callis and Chuck Johnston: [46]