Hollywood 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 in late 1938 with a capacity of about 6,300. Black boxers were not allowed to fight here until 1940. Despite a tough period during the early 1930s, the Hollywood Legion Stadium proved to be a remarkably successful boxing club until the late 1940s. Unlike every other boxing club in California, the Hollywood Legion Stadium seemed have a boxing card with a large crowd in attendance every week like clockwork. As a result, there would be a tidy profit from the boxing shows at the Hollywood Legion Stadium just about every year. Another apparent key to the Hollywood Legion Stadium's success was stability at the key positon of matchmaker. At other boxing clubs in California, there was a tremendous turnover in the key positions of promoter and matchmaker for a decade-and-a-half after the advent of the Great Depression. Because the Hollywood Legion boxing cards had been so successful for many years, there were plans to build a new arena with a capacity of 6,300 to replace the old one with a capacity of 4,500 in 1938. The cost of the new arena was a reported $250,000. Due to the fact that the new arena was to be built on the same site where the old arena was located, a number of Hollywood Legion cards would be staged at Gilmore Stadium for several months with a great deal of success in 1938. An open-air facility, Gilmore Stadium was also used for midget auto racing, football games, and even baseball exhibitions (Gilmore Field, a baseball park for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, was built later. It would be located near Gilmore Stadium.). It should be pointed out that a number of black boxers fought on Hollywood Legion cards at Gilmore Stadium in 1938. This was ironic because black boxers weren't allowed to box at the Hollywood Legion Stadium at the time. In September 1938, the first card was staged at the new Hollywood Legion Stadium. Besides being bigger, the newer arena was a much nicer facility than the "barn-like" older version. Since the new arena was built specifically for boxing and kept clean, older boxing fans remember what a great place it was to see boxing cards. Hollywood Legion Stadium would have another memorable year in 1940. It started when a World Middleweight Championship bout between Ceferino Garcia, the titleholder, and Henry Armstrong, the challenger, was scheduled to be staged at Gilmore Stadium under the auspices of the Hollywood American Legion. Since Armstrong, a black boxer from Los Angeles, and Garcia, a Filipino boxer, fought for much of their respective careers in California, such a bout would appear to be an ideal one to be staged in the Los Angeles area. The crowd for the Garcia-Armstrong bout was estimated to be 20,000, far below expections. Moreover, Referee George Blake rendered the very controversial draw decision. As a result, Armstrong failed to win a fourth World Title in his great career. Since the Hollywood American Legion was staging the Garcia-Armstrong bout and one of the principals was black, a controversy was ignited because of the ban on black boxers at the Hollywood Legion Stadium. Due to the controversy, the Hollywood American Legion agreed to allow black boxers to fight at the famed venue. After the ban was lifted, a large number of black boxers fought at the Hollywood Legion Stadium in succeeding years, including Henry Armstrong for the first time. 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 Hollywood Legion Stadium closed in 1959. At present, it is the Legion Lanes Bowling Alley on Gower Boulevard, up the street from the Paramount Studios.

Click to Enlarge
HOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
Click to Enlarge
BOXING ARENA AT HOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
Click to Enlarge
Interior of Hollywood Legion Stadium
Click to Enlarge
Inside the Hollywood Legion Stadium
Hollywood Legion StadiumHOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
HLS-001
1926
Hollywood Legion StadiumBOXING ARENA AT HOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
HLS-002
1930
Hollywood Legion StadiumInterior of Hollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-004
1936
Hollywood Legion StadiumInside the Hollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-005
1936
Click to Enlarge
Inside the Hollywood Legion Stadium
Click to Enlarge
Hollywood Legion Stadium
Click to Enlarge
BOXING FANS AT HOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
Click to Enlarge
Boxing Fans At Hollywood Legion Stadium
Hollywood Legion StadiumInside the Hollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-006
1936
Hollywood Legion StadiumHollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-007
1938
Hollywood Legion StadiumBOXING FANS AT HOLLYWOOD LEGION STADIUM
HLS-008
1940
Hollywood Legion StadiumBoxing Fans At Hollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-009
1940
Click to Enlarge
Hollywood Legion Stadium
Click to Enlarge
Hollywood Legion Stadium
Click to Enlarge
Hollywood Legion Bowling Lanes
Click to Enlarge
Hollywood Legion Bowling Lanes
Hollywood Legion StadiumHollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-010
1949
Hollywood Legion StadiumHollywood Legion Stadium
HLS-011
1949
Hollywood Legion StadiumHollywood Legion Bowling Lanes
HLS-012
1977
Hollywood Legion StadiumHollywood Legion Bowling Lanes
HLS-013
1977