The Boozefighters Motorcycle Club (BFMC) began as a so-called "outlaw" (i.e. not sanctioned nor chartered by the AMA) motorcycle club, founded in California after the end of World War Two. Its motto is "a drinking club with a motorcycle problem".
Foundation: Wino Willie Forkner
Its founder was William Clyde "Wino Willie" Forkner Jr., who had served in the military during World War Two and had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life after the war. He had been a member of the 13 Rebels Motorcycle Club for two years prior to the attack on Pearl Harbour, and his nickname "Wino Willie" had come about at age 12 because he liked to drink red wine. During the war he had risen in the ranks of the Army Air Corps and then fallen again as the result of a drunken incident in a bar. After it ended, he re-joined the 13 Rebels; but in 1946 he had his membership stripped from him by the other members after an incident at a quarter-mile race in San Diego where, bored and drunk, he drove his own motorcycle through a wooden gate onto the racetrack, around the track, and eventually losing control.
Disillusioned, drunk, and angry, one evening he and three other former servicemen were drinking at the All-American Bar in Los Angeles and decided to form a new motorcycle club themselves, taking the name from a shouted suggestion from a fellow bar patron named Walt Porter who overhead their conversation to "Call it the Boozefighters.". The four recruited another 16 members, all also war veterans with one exception (Jim Morrison, a teenager), and applied for AMA membership, with C. B. Clauson, former paratrooper, as the club president. Forkner later reported that the AMA president declined the application stating that "No goddam way am I giving a name like that to a charter.".
The club began to grow, having three chapters (in Los Angeles, San Pedro, and San Francisco), by 1947. Members of all three attended the Hollister riot that year. The L.A. chapter got drunk before it even arrived at Hollister, starting out on the Thursday before the weekend by drinking in the All-American Bar, driving to Santa Barbara, drinking there, driving to San Luis Obispo where they were too drunk to drive on that day and decided to sleep in a bus terminal, driving on the next day to King City, buying more alcohol from a liquor store, and then driving on.
Wino Willie was mistakenly arrested at the riot for purportedly inciting a riot and a jailbreak of other bikers who had already been arrested, when in fact he was trying to do the opposite and talk the mob out of staging a jailbreak.
When racing, Wino Willie would sport the colours of another motor cycle club, the Yellow Jackets, rather than Boozefighters colours.
The movie The Wild One, which Wino Willie initially consulted on but eventually resigned from over the way that bikers were being portrayed, boosted membership of the club during the 1950s. Club membership then shrank, as members retired or died during the 1960s, only for its numbers to swell again because of the Vietnam War as it was joined once again by ex-servicemen. By the 21st century it had grown to become an international organization, with chapters in various European countries, Canada, The Philippines, and Japan.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2021)
- Barker, Thomas (2014). "Enter the One-Percenters". Biker Gangs and Transnational Organized Crime (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781317524113.
- Hayes, Bill (2018). "Yellow Jackets". The One Percenter Encyclopedia: The World of Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs from Abyss Ghosts to Zombies Elite. Motorbooks. ISBN 9780760360538.
- Jeff. "A drinking club with a motorcycle problem". Difford's Guide.