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I. Page16 BOSTON POST-GAZETTE, AUGUST 22, 2014 WHERE THEY FOUGHT, Boston's Great Boxing Venues Mechanics Hall, 1959 There was a very long period of time in Boston when you didn't have to go far to see a live professional boxing match. Fights were held at least once a week. This activity died out in the 1970s with the death of Sam Silverman who had done his best to keep local boxing alive. Today, when people hear of a boxing match being held in Boston, the first place they think of is TD Garden, though most of us of a cer- tain age will never stop call- ing it the Boston Garden. The House of Blues has also become a popular venue for the infrequent cards that are promoted in the area. How- ever, there was a time that ff you heard of a fight promo- tion you had to check care- fully on the location to be sure you went to the right place. Bouts were held in Mechanics Hall, the Boston Arena, Fenway Park, Braves Field, and the Boston Garden. The oldest of these arenas was Mechanics Hall, which opened in 1881. It was located on Huntington Avenue at the comer of West Newton Street, on what is now the location of the Pru- dential Center. The main hall sat 8,000 people for box- ing matches. Mechanics Hall was originally built to be an exhibit hall and also housed the Aleppo Temple, better known as the Shriners. I had heard that Jake Kilrain fought Charley Mitchell there in 1884, but upon further research I dis- covered they fought in the New England Manufacturer's and Mechanic's Institute also on Huntington Avenue, so that explains the con- fusion. The Manufacturing Institute building was not in operation for long and burned to the ground in 1886. I can't find any records of other boxing matches being held there. Even though it was not intended as a boxing arena, Mechanics Hall remained a popular site for matches up until it was closed to make way for urban renewal in 1958. Just about every local pro during that era fought there more than once, and I still hear the old timers talk about the exciting fights they saw there. Jack Sharkey fought there a number of times in the 1920s. In one bout he defeated George Godfrey. The Boston Arena Not far from Mechanics Hall, on St. Botolph Street, stood the Boston Arena. This venue, opened in 1910, was built specifically for sporting events and was the original home of the Boston Bruins. Now in the possession of Northeastern University it is still standing and has been renamed Mathews Arena. The annual Bean Pot Tournament is held there, but it Was a major place for boxing for many years. In addition to the hundreds of pro fights that took place under its roof, the Arena was also the site of the annual New England AAU Champi- onships. During these ama- teur tournaments, there would be two rings set up with fights taking place in both rings at the same time. It shows just how popular boxing was in those days to have had so many young men enter into the New England competition. The talent pool was very deep. The Boston Garden 1940s. The first Boston Garden opened in 1928. It was origi- nally named Boston Madison Square Garden, and was built by the great boxing pro- moter Tex Rickard. His plan was to build seven such arenas around the country as a way to showcase boxing. Rickard would die a year later, and the Boston Garden would be the only one built. In 1940 the only Heavy- weight Championship bout to take place in Boston was held there, Joe Louis defeated Al McCoy when McCoy could not answer the bell for the 6~ round due to a very badly damaged eye. For years Sam Silverman dreamt of holding a Heavy- weight Title bout in the Gar- den, and his dream nearly came true in 1964 when he signed Muhammad All and Sonny Liston for their rematch. Tickets had been printed and it appeared Sam was about to realize his dream when, at the last minute, Ali pulled out be- cause of a hernia. The com- mission would not allow the bout to be rescheduled for Boston and it was moved to Lewiston, Maine. The rest is history. ~BOSTON GARDEN ~~-~:,m~ | ..... .._ Ticket to the cancelled Ali- Liston Fight Boston's two ballparks were also popular places to see boxing matches. Future Heavyweight Champ Jimmy Braddock fought in both parks. Braves Field, now owned by Boston University and renamed Nickerson Field, saw much action throughout the years. Jack Sharkey, Tony Shucco, Jimmy Maloney, and many other great fighters stepped into the ring there. A young Rocky Marciano stopped Gino Buonvini in 10 rounds in the ballpark. On the undercard of that bout, a tough young amateur who had embarked on his pro career scored a one round knockout in his bout. That hard punching kid would go on to become Welter- weight Champion of the World. His name was Tony DeMarco. Tony would also go on to fight in the last venue I will mention here, Fenway Park: As a matter of.fact, Tony is the only person alive to have fought at all of the sites mentioned in this article. In 1954 he kayoed George Araujo in the 5th round in the ballpark. It is hard to believe it from the state of local boxing today, but Boston was once a major fight city. Of course, no city is very active with boxing today. The day when "going to the fights" was a weekly activ- ity are long gone. It was an exciting time. Just ask Tony DeMarco. Ernie Schaaf stopping Unknown Winston at the Boston Arena 1932. HOOPS and HOCKEY in the HUB .by Richard Preiss IT WONT BE LONG NOW -- Just got word that the TD Garden will have the ice put down for the 2014-2015 sea- son on September 18th. With the B's having penciled in three home exhibition games this year, instead of the traditional two. The surface should be well tested and in free form for the regular sea- son opener against the Phila- delphia Flyers on October 8~. HOCKEY EAST NAMES NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIREC- TOR -- Woburn native Brian Smith has been named the new director of communica- tions for Hockey East, one of the top conferences in college hockey. Smith, who graduated from Boston College in 2012, most recently served a two-year internship with USA Hockey in Colorado Springs. "Brian came highly recom- mended by our friends at USA Hockey," said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna in a press release. "His experience at various levels within the hockey commu- nity will serve him well as he tackles his new duties." "Even with 157 applicants seeking this position, Brian instantly stood out. We have set out to create a new team in the Hockey East office," stated Bertagna. "Brian will play a major role as we begin to execute a number of ini- tiatives in the coming year." In addition to working with USA Hockey, Smith formerly had a year long internship with the New England Revo- lution. While at BC, he spent two years on the game night staff of the Boston Bruins The former Woburn High hockey player, who was on the track team during his days at BC, will have two interns to assist him in the communications office. Keagan Gallagher, a recent graduate of the University of Vermont, will focus on com- munications for the Women's Hockey East Conference. She will assist Bertagna with his duties on behalf of the Ameri- can Hockey Coaches Associa- tion. She formerly played hockey at Reading Memorial High School Andrew Veneziano, a 2014 graduate of Boston College, will assume the duties of as- sisting Smith with the men's aspect of Hockey East. A native of Medford, Veneziano played high school hockey at St. John's Prep. ALL OUTDOORS -- There will be at least two outdoor games in the NHL this sea- son. In the first, the Wash- ington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks on New Year's Day in the Winter Classic. It's still on despite several recent media reports that an exact venue for the game has not been determined. Poten- tial sites include Nationals Park, RFK Stadium or per- haps even the National Mall. Although it's getting close -- with only about four months left -- there hasn't been an announcement concerning a site for the game. Wherever it's played, the game will be the second Winter Classic contest for each team. The Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field in 2009 while Washington traveled to Pitts- burgh to meet the Penguins in the 2011 contest. In addi- tion, Chicago also partici- pated in the 2014 Stadium Series by hosting Pittsburgh at Soldier field in the snow. Speaking of the Stadium Series, the San Jose Sharks will host the defending Stan- ley Cup champion -- Los Angeles Kings -- on Febru- ary 21~t at Levi's Stadium. That site is definite. THE NBA IS NEAR- In fact, it's now only about a month away from the time that the teams open their respective training camps. The Celtics will hold their preseason Media Day festivities on Sep- tember 29~ at their Waltham practice facility. The first practice of the year will fol- low the next day -- Septem- ber 30th -- as head coach Brad Stevens enters his second year as the leader of the Green. As part of its continued global outreach several NBA teams will play in interna- tional venues during the preseason. San Antonio will play teams in Germany and Turkey, while Miami and Cleveland will play in Brazil. Brooklyn and Sacramento will play in China. There will also be a regular season game in London featuring the New York Knicks and the Milwau- kee Bucks on January 15th. Opening Night will feature Dallas playing at San Antonio with the Spurs being honored with the Championship Ring Ceremony for winning the league title back in June. SOME THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT AVERY BRADLEY -- He's the Celtics starting shooting guard. His father was in the military for over 20 years, meaning the family lived in various places as his dad got reassigned. Born in Tacoma, Washing- ton, he spent several years in Texas before moving back to Washington State. Then he transferred to Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada for his senior year of high school and promptly led the team to an undefeated 33-0 season. IN MEMORIAM -- Remem- bering longtime Garden usher Robert "Huzza" Howard on the 11th anniversary of his pass- ing (August 26, 2003). A native of Malden and a resi- dent of Medford for almost five decades, Huzza worked at the Garden for over 40 years. Huzza was hired by the Garden in the fall of 1960, about three weeks before John F. Kennedy concluded his campaign for President with a memorable rally at the Garden on the night before election day. Huzza was there that night, escort- ing people to their seats for what proved to be the start of a long and memorable career. He was 68 at the time of his death.