Remembering When

by Jerry Person
Huntington Beach City Historian

Dedicated to the people of Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Athletic Club


When television became popular in the early 1950s, men world gather around the black and white screen to watch sports like baseball and football games, but TV stations couldn't count on these events every week and turned to fight nights.

Wrestling and boxing matches televised from the El Monte Legion Stadium became the men's favorite programs to watch on the small screen.

But long before the advent of television our male residents watched fight nights live at Huntington Beach's first real boxing arena and with a little imagination lets go back to that first organized fight program.

Its Friday night, July 6, 1923 and we're standing in front of the new Huntington Beach Athletic Club at 214 Fifth Street to see the six matches scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m.

We have paid our admission of $1.50 or $2.00 for reserved seats that included a war tax.

In the audience that night are club owners L.A. Lawton and Jack McDonnough, seated in two of the 100 ringside seats.

The bright cluster lights above the ring comes on as Referee "Chic" Brown enters the ring followed by the first fighters of the evening, Jack Eller of Los Angeles and Tony Ross. This fight lasted the full 4 rounds for a draw.

Next to enter the ring came Babe Ortner vs. Huntington Beach's own Eddie Dugan. Dugan won in the 4th round.

Looking around the crowd seated there we could see bankers & merchants, oil operators and their workers. The ladies were there too, some even carrying babies in their arms, cheering and booing their favorite fighter.

Ring announcer Joe Chamberlain could be heard calling the next bout as Battling Doty of Huntington Beach won over Joe Metzler of Anaheim.

Popular Huntington Beach lifeguard Harry Lee was next up to battle Ted Frenchie from Los Angeles, but unfortunately Frenchie won that fight in the first round.

The first audience seated in multi-tiered chairs now watched Joe Grimm of Huntington Beach lose to Young Terry in the 3rd round.

Now came the main event of the evening as Kid Mexico (Todd Faulkner) of Huntington Beach as he fought Steve "Sailor" Biss to a draw. Kid Mexico would later become a local hero and boxing champ and during the 1960 -70s would operate his Kid Mexico Museum in Long Beach.

Well its time to leave as the fighters retire to their changing room and we head back to 2023.

About the only fight nights we get to see on television today are between Trump and Biden, oh well, ho hum.