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Olympic Auditorium History

March 04, 1994|TIM KAWAKAMI

Here are some key dates in the life of the Olympic Auditorium, which will reopen Saturday.

* 1924: Jack Doyle, with the help of the Los Angeles Olympic committee for the 1932 Games, builds the Olympic Auditorium. Boxing great Jack Dempsey is on hand for the dedication.

* Jan. 13, 1925: The first major card is a Jan. 13, 1925, flyweight bout in which Jimmy McLarnin takes a 10-round decision over Fidel LaBarba.

* 1932: The building is the site of the boxing and Greco-Roman wrestling competitions for the Games. American Edward Flynn wins the welterweight gold medal in boxing.

* 1942: Promoter Cal Eaton takes over running the building and hires Aileen LeBell to run the business side. Babe McCoy is the matchmaker.

* 1945: The Olympic begins weekly wrestling shows, promoted by Eaton. LeBell takes over the boxing promotions.

* 1948: Gorgeous George Wagner, who sprays perfume on his body between rounds, makes his wrestling debut at the Olympic. He becomes the biggest money-making wrestler of the era.

* 1948: Cal Eaton and Aileen LeBell marry.

* Dec. 3, 1960: Sugar Ray Robinson and Gene Fullmer fight to a draw after 15 rounds for Fullmer's middleweight boxing crown.

* April 30, 1964: A riot breaks out in the auditorium when Japanese flyweight Hiroyuki Ebihara is awarded a split decision over Mexican Alacron Torres.

* 1965: Eaton signs a deal for weekly television broadcasts from the Olympic. To fit the schedule, boxing cards are moved from Tuesday to Thursday nights.

* January, 1970: The Olympic begins its annual 22-wrestlers-in-the-ring "Battle Royale."

* Aug. 7, 1970: Mando Ramos decisions Ultimo (Sugar) Ramos in a bout that sets a gate-receipt record of $91,037.50. The fierce battle probably is the Olympic Auditorium's most famous fight.

* 1980: The Los Angeles Athletic Club sells the building to developer Jack Needleman. Eaton retires.

* Sept. 1, 1981: 24-year-old Welshman Johnny Owen suffers injuries in the ring that result in his death.

* Sept. 19, 1983: 21-year-old Guadalajaran Kiko Bejines suffers fatal injuries in the ring.

* 1987: The Olympic closes.

* 1991: Needleman approaches promoter Dan Goossen to reopen the Olympic. The negotiations falter.

* Nov. 1, 1993: After long negotiations, promoter Bob Arum agrees to stage 25 fights a year for at least two years. A $5-million renovation begins.

* Saturday: The official reopening is scheduled, featuring Oscar De La Hoya's first world title bout.

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