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Hollywood Legion Stadium Photos

Original Stadium

The Hollywood Legion Post #43 was organized in 1919 in Hollywood. They purchased property at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and El Centro Ave. with the idea of having a boxing arena. In 1919 the American Legion first put chairs on the dirt lot on El Centro Ave. A chicken wire fence covered with tar paper to prevent passer-bys from looking in. In 1922 the Legion erected an outdoor stadium with wooden bleachers. A year or so later the stadium was roofed and heated. It was known as the Hollywood Legion Stadium

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The list of boxing and wrestling noteables who appeared at the Hollywood Legion Stadium from the mid-20s on, seemed endless. Included among the champions were heavyweights James L Braddock, and Joe Lewis; lightweights Maxie Rosenbloom and Archie Moore; and middleweights Bobo Olson and Ceferino Garcia.

New Stadium

The old structure remained on the site until a new arena was built and opened in September 1938.The Stadium with its seating capacity of 6000, was the richest in the country and the Legion managed to pay off the cost of the arena in two years. Nearly every Friday, the Ritz Brothers or the Marx Brothers, all regulars, got in the ring with the fighters and clowned around before the matches began. Mae West often gave wristwatches to fighters she liked. Pat O'Brien formed a wrestling club called the Gay Blades. It was here that Charles Chaplin studied techniques to use on the screen.

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Celebrities In The Audience

The Hollywood Legion Stadium was so popular with the movie crowd that the spectators didn't know whether to watch the boxing or stare at the movie stars. On almost every Friday night you could look down front and see Al Jolson, who was part owner of world welterweight champion Henry Armstrong, sitting with his friend Ruby Keeler. In other rows sat Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, Richard Barthelmess, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, Luke Valdez, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, and many other stars of the day. Not only did the stars come out for Legion boxing but professional gamblers, gangsters, and big time mobsters were often seen in the audience.

In 1952, the arena welcomed in television, a move some legionnaires and boxing buffs later denounced, insisting that telecasts of the fights caused gate receipts to dwindle. During the late 50s, the public interest in boxing started to wane and

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the Legion Stadium began to suffer from poor attendance. Finally, television threw in the towel. The last televised fight from the stadium was on September 12, 1959. The following year, the famous stadium was filled in with concrete and converted to Brunswick's Hollywood Legion lanes, Hollywood's finest bowling alley.

Today, the building that once housed the Hollywood Legion Stadium is now a fitness center that caters to many of Hollywood's residents.

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Vintage Hollywood Legion Stadium Photos

The largest collection of Hollywood Legion Stadium photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website. All the photos on the site are available for purchase. Hollywood Photographs Facebook Hollywood Photographs Google+

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