Sunday, September 13, 2015

Who Knew #23 City of Vernon: The Boxing Capital of the World

The City of Vernon is best known today as an industrial city, but who knew that a century ago it was known as the "boxing capital of the world" When you think about this slogan, the classy Madison Square Garden or the electric MGM Grand come in mind, but in 1908 the City of Vernon had the Vernon Arena.

Jack Doyle a business man  owned a saloon in the new distinguished city right outside of Los Angeles known as Vernon. The saloon generated a lot of interest but needed to find some sort of entertainment. Boxer James J. Jeffries had just opened a training center within miles of his saloon that gave Doyle, a business idea. In 1908, Jack Doyle built an outdoor ring surrounded by wooden bleachers and called it the Vernon Arena. The arena would stage 20 round boxing matches and included many World Championship bouts. The arena would attract 12,000 boxing fans per event.

 Doyle's Arena

On Aug 22, 1913 tragedy hit the arena, Jess Willard (future World Championship Boxer) knocked out, upcoming boxer Bull Young in the 11th round and died right after. Due to his death California legislators limited boxing matches to only 4 rounds.

Jess Willard

Jack Doyle's arena broke records in attendance and profit. The arena was largely responsible for making boxing popular in Southern California. The arena closed down August 21. 1923 to make way for Doyle's new Vernon's Coliseum. The coliseum located on 32nd  and Santa Fe Ave, sat 7,500 people. The coliseum began to lose revenue as prohibition hit the area. What was once a sacred space for boxing and drinks was now a half empty place for amateur boxing. In 1924, Los Angeles was looking for a venue for wrestling and boxing for the Olympics but opted to construct the Olympic Auditorium just south of downtown, Doyle abandoned the coliseum and promoted his boxing matches in the new auditorium. In 1927, the Vernon Coliseum was destroyed by fire and ended an era of boxing in Vernon.

Jack Doyle 

Present day location of the Vernon Arena (25th and San Fe Ave)

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