All posts by Bob Quackenbush

Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 2 of 2)

By Bob Quackenbush / dmboxing.com

In last week’s article, we looked at nine classic prize fights that were contested at well known outdoor stadiums.  In Chicago, it was Soldier Field and Comiskey Park; in New York, the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field; and in Washington D.C., Griffith Stadium.  

Yankee Stadium – 1923

This week, the spotlight will be on “The House that Ruth Built”, the legendary Yankee Stadium. Though the Bambino and his famous baseball teams were the star attraction at this venue, and the New York Giants football team was the gridiron tenant (1956-73), the sport of boxing brought in big names and big crowds, as well.  It was said that Yankee Stadium was Joe Louis’ personal fight club as he appeared there so many times (twelve times per BoxRec).  The stadium was actually prepared for the fight game as a concrete vault with radio lines permanently installed for broadcasters was buried in the ground under second base.

Thirteen famous bouts highlight Part 2 of our look at famous prize fights in the great outdoors. [Reminder … this is not an exhaustive list, but a selection of some of the most famous bouts contested at this location.]

YANKEE STADIUM, the Bronx, New York City:

  • Jess Willard defeated Floyd Johnson by technical knockout in round eleven on May 12, 1923.  In the first boxing event ever held at Yankee Stadium, promoter Tex Rickard organized a benefit program staged as a heavyweight carnival from which a worthy challenger for champion Jack Dempsey could be selected. The 6’ 6” Willard who was 41 and not active at the time was brought in to face the young Johnson who was 38-2.  Willard trained hard and was good for a few rounds, pounding Johnson with uppercuts until the younger fighter took control. Somehow, Willard made it to the eleventh and caught Johnson with a huge punch to end the round, and Johnson couldn’t answer the bell for round twelve. 63,000 were there to see it.
  • Max Schmeling defeated Joe Louis by knockout in round twelve on June 12, 1936.  The experienced Schmeling (59 pro bouts) used timing and counter-punching to conquer the young and powerful Louis, sending him down with a big right hand before an estimated 60,000. Louis would later get a title shot, defeating Jim Braddock in 1937. 
  • Joe Louis defeated Max Schmeling by knockout in the first round on June 22, 1938.  In their much anticipated rematch, Louis pounded Schmeling in front of a sell-out crowd, knocking him down three times in 56 seconds. The third time, the German’s corner threw in the towel as the referee continued the count, and Schmeling could not get up. 
Max Schmeling versus Joe Louis … The Rematch
Continue reading Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 2 of 2)

Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 1 of 2)

By Bob Quackenbush / dmboxing.com

In the world of boxing, indoor arenas are the venues that typically come to mind.  These locations with their traditional images of sweat, cigar smoke, and packed crowds close to the ring are what is envisioned when “prize fighting” is the topic of discussion.  Wonderful examples would be Philadelphia’s Blue Horizon, The Olympic Auditorium and Hollywood Legion Stadium in Los Angeles, and, on a larger scale, Madison Square Garden.

Firpo versus Dempsey at the Polo Grounds by George Bellows

However, many title fights have been held in the “great outdoors” at facilities such as baseball and football stadiums. Some even took place in temporary structures built for specific events, the most famous being the “Fight of the Century” between Jack Johnson and James Jeffries in Reno, Nevada, on July 4, 1910.  

Most of the famous outdoor bouts took place in New York City, with several more in Chicago.  There were others, too, but for the purposes of this article, the focus will be on the Big Apple and the Windy City, plus a fight in our nation’s capital.  Here’s a look at several well known contests held in some legendary outdoor venues from years gone by.  [Note: This is not an exhaustive list.]

SOLDIER FIELD, Chicago:

  • Gene Tunney defeated Jack Dempsey by unanimous decision on September 22, 1927.  This was the famous “Long Count” bout where Tunney went down after a combination in the seventh round, but the referee did not start the count until Dempsey went to a neutral corner. Tunney, “The Fighting Marine”, who took the heavyweight title from Dempsey a year before, defended it successfully as he dropped the “Manassa Mauler” in the eighth and controlled the remaining rounds. This was the first fight in history where the gate exceeded $2,000,000.
“The Long Count” at Soldier Field
Continue reading Outdoor Wars … Legendary Bouts in Famous Stadiums (Part 1 of 2)