In 1926, Los Angeles was pugilistic paradise. California was just entering a new era of professional boxing. From 1914 to 1925, bouts had been limited to 4 rounds. Now 10-round boxing was legal. Cauliflower connoisseurs could find a match on somewhere in the L.A. area almost any night of the week.
Many champions or ex-champions like Jim Jeffries, Jack Dempsey, Jimmy McLarnin, Bud Taylor, Ace Hudkins, Jess Willard, Newsboy Brown, and Fidel La Barba called Los Angeles home and many more filtered through the city at some point in their fistic careers to take them on. It made for a lively boxing scene. The top three venues in 1926 were Vernon Coliseum, Olympic Auditorium and Hollywood Legion Arena. Because of the new boxing laws that prevented a main-event fighter from appearing in the ring more than once a week, Vernon and Olympic staged fights on alternate Tuesdays. Friday nights belonged to Legion.
There’d been boxing at Vernon before Jack Doyle, but “Jack Doyle’s place” came to be the boxing center of Los Angeles in the four-round era. Originally an open-air arena, in 1923 he opened a new one with improved amenities and a balcony. Doyle continued staging fights on alternate Tuesdays here until March 2, 1927 when he closed to become manager of the Olympic Auditorium.
Built in anticipation of Los Angeles hosting the 1932 Summer Olympics, the “Brown Palace” at 18th St. & Grand Ave. opened August 5, 1925. It was owned by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, who hosted statewide amateur boxing competitions here that drew large crowds. Joe Levy managed the professional side of things every other Tuesday until Jack Doyle took over in 1927, after which Olympic held fights every Tuesday night.
Hollywood Legion Arena
Located at 1628 El Centro Ave. just south of Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood Legion, managed by Tom Gallery, opened in 1921 as an open-air area. Filmdom’s many fight fans helped raise the money to put a roof on it in 1923. The old arena had boxing every Friday night until April 29, 1938. Then it was demolished and a new, larger arena built on its footprint.
Main Street Gym (aka Newsboy’s Gym, Main St. Athletic Club)
As the Turninverin Hall, 321 S. Main St. had hosted boxing matches back in the 1890s, when the 3-story building was new. In 1926, 24-year old Carlo Curtis opened his new Main St. Athletic Club here, staging cards on Saturday nights. It served as a clubhouse of sorts for young paper hustlers of the city as well as a training gym for local and visiting boxers.
Curtis had operated an earlier Newsboy’s Gym at 108 N. Spring St. with longtime L.A. boxing figures “Gig” Rooney and “Pop” Nealis. When it was condemned for construction of the new city hall, he relocated to Main Street as a solo venture. Curtis held the inaugural card on Saturday, June 5, 1926.
In addition, there were boxing clubs in the beach cities of Wilmington and Ocean Park, and smaller venues around the metropolitan area. Dick Donald occasionally staged outdoor matches at the new Ascot Speedway (aka Ascot Arena or Park) and the Wrigley Field ballpark.