Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mae: Boxing Rings

The daughter of a former boxer, MAE WEST was taken to the gym and boxing ring by her father from when she was four years old. She developed a love for prize fights and champions often came to her stage shows - - such as Jack Dempsey, Heavyweight Champ, who attended the premiere of "The Mimic World 1921" and went backstage to meet Mae. All her life, Mae could be found at ringside as well as at racetracks. This article recalls the days when Mae West and other celebrities enjoyed matches in California.

• • • This city was full of fight • • •
Before football came and went, before the Dodgers and Lakers, boxing was the center of the Los Angeles sporting world.
By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer

• • FOR America's big-league sports, L.A. was a distant outpost for the first half of the 20th century, impressive for an off-season vacation, impractical as a home base. Before jet travel, any team moving to the West Coast would have presented a scheduling nightmare. . . .
• • But boxing was different. Unencumbered by the need to regularly transport a full team a thousand miles or more, boxing found its way here even before the start of the last century. . . .
• • Since the Olympic Auditorium and the Forum went dark in the last decade, in terms of regularly scheduled matches, there has been no major venue for a promising fighter to polish his skills as he moved from club fighter to headliner.
• • It was far different a century ago. . . .
• • By 1914, the state had put strict regulations on the sport. Fights were limited to four rounds, purses to $25. ...
• • On Aug. 4, 1925, L.A.'s boxing mecca, the Olympic Auditorium, opened on the corner of 18th and Grand.
• • "The Auditorium blazed with glory on its opening night," according to an article the next day in The Times, "the light of many electric lights surpassed only by the sparkling jewels that adorned the persons of several of our well-known citizens and citizenesses. Hollywood and the moving picture colony slipped into their tuxedos and formal apparel and blessed the ringside by their presence."
• • In the early days of the Olympic, Mae West, Lupe Velez, Ruby Keeler, Al Jolson and later Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck could be found in the good seats.
• • By the middle of the last century, a fight fan could be entertained all week without leaving the area. Ocean Park Arena in Santa Monica had fights on Tuesdays, the Olympic on Thursdays and Hollywood Legion Stadium on Saturdays.
• • And the famous and the infamous tagged along, especially at Hollywood Legion Stadium, where entertainers Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Jolson, Eddie Cantor, and George Raft rubbed elbows with mobsters such as Mickey Cohen....
printed: 30 March 2006
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• • Photo • Mae West • wrestler Vincent Lopez in 1955

Mae West.

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