Sunnyside Garden Arena

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The Sunnyside Garden Arena was a popular boxing venue.[1] The old red brick arena, at the southwest corner of 45th Street and Queens Boulevard, in Sunnyside, Queens, New York City, seated about 2,500.[2] It consisted of two parallel gables perpendicular to the street fronted by a lower, flat-roofed entry.[3] Across the entry was a large neon sign and below that, just above the main entrance, was a large clock.[4]

History[edit]

Built in the 1920s, the building is variously reported to have been either a private tennis club and/or the personal tennis court and carriage house of millionaire Jay Gould II.[5]

In the mid forties, the building was sold to Harry Jordan Lee of Long Beach, New York, who partnered with Manny Heicklen to open it as a boxing and wrestling venue in 1947.[6] Heicklen eventually bought out Lee and remained in charge until his death in 1969.[7] The reins then passed to promoter Mike Rosenberg until the arena was sold to Mike Prudenti of Astoria in 1973.[8] This apparently didn’t work out and the arena was closed for two years until late 1975.[9] Under promoters Nick Anesi and Vic Manni, it lasted until 1977,[10] when it was replaced by a Wendy’s which still stands on the site.[11]

In its heyday, the Sunnyside Garden Arena played host to such boxing greats as Floyd Patterson, Anthony Pugliese, Tony Canzoneri, Al Singer, Ruby Goldstein, and Billy Petrolle.[12] For some years it was home to the Golden Gloves tournaments.[13] Famous wrestlers battled there too, notably Jim Londos (the Golden Greek), Stan Zybysko, Strangler Lewis, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers, Haystacks Calhoun, and Bruno Sammartino.[14] The DuMont Television Network aired Boxing From Sunnyside Gardens from September 1949 to 1950.

Sunnyside Garden was also the site of political rallies, including a 1960 visit by then-senator John F. Kennedy on his presidential campaign tour.[15] Robert Kennedy is reported to have stumped there in his 1964 senatorial campaign.[16]

The Sunnyside Garden is generally considered the last survivor of the New York neighborhood fight clubs, having outlived, the St. Nicholas Arena in Manhattan (1962), the Coney Island Velodrome in Brooklyn (1950) and the Jerome Avenue Boxing Club in the Bronx.[17] The demise of these venues is largely attributed to the arrival of television.[18] However, the Sunnyside Garden Arena managed to profit and its fights were shown on Channel 5 on Friday nights.[19] Some attribute its demise to the building of Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum (1968), which became home to the Golden Gloves.[20]

The last show at Sunnyside took place on June 24, 1977 and the building was demolished in December of the same year.[21] The Daily News reported on December 6th, that the payloader at the demolition site, having fallen partly into the basement after collapsing a basement was vandalized, as was a second payloader sent to rescue the first.[22] At least it didn’t go without a fight.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Sunnyside_Garden
  2. ^ Ingrassia, Michele. "Inside the Ring or Out, There's Always Action at Sunnyside. THE NEW YORK TIMES. 16 APR. 1972.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Hal. "50-Year Old Boxing Arena To Get a New Lease on Life". LI PRESS. 21 OCT. 1973.
  4. ^ Anonymous. "Fight Game Comes Back". SUNDAY NEWS. 19 OCT. 1975.
  5. ^ Anonymous. "Sunnyside Landmark Makes Room For Fast-Food Hamburger Chain". WOODSIDE HERALD. 9 DEC. 1977.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Hal. "50-Year Old Boxing Arena To Get a New Lease on Life". LI PRESS. 21 OCT. 1973.
  7. ^ Shapiro, Hal. "50-Year Old Boxing Arena To Get a New Lease on Life". LI PRESS. 21 OCT. 1973.
  8. ^ Shapiro, Hal. "50-Year Old Boxing Arena To Get a New Lease on Life". LI PRESS. 21 OCT. 1973.
  9. ^ Gross, Kenneth. "Once It Was Known as Bliss". NEWSDAY. 21 OCT. 1979.
  10. ^ Anonymous. "Fight Game Comes Back". SUNDAY NEWS. 19 OCT. 1975.
  11. ^ Hirshon, Nicholas. "Monumental Fight". DAILY NEWS/NYDailyNews.com. 23 NOV. 2010.
  12. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Sunnyside Garden Going Down for Count". DAILY NEWS. 4 DEC. 1977.
  13. ^ Morales, Tina. "Onetime Farm Town Grows With Location". NEWSDAY. SUNDAY 4 FEB. 1990.
  14. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Sunnyside Garden Going Down for Count". DAILY NEWS. 4 DEC. 1977.
  15. ^ Morales, Tina. "Onetime Farm Town Grows With Location". NEWSDAY. SUNDAY 4 FEB. 1990.
  16. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Sunnyside Garden Going Down for Count". DAILY NEWS. 4 DEC. 1977.
  17. ^ http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Sunnyside_Garden
  18. ^ LeDuff, Charlie. "An Effort to Recapture the Old Allure of Boxing". NEW YORK TIMES. 25 NOV. 2000
  19. ^ D'O'Brian, Joseph. "The Business of Boxing". AMERICAN HERITAGE. OCT. 1991
  20. ^ Matthews, Wallace. "No Longer on the Ropes: Goodman, Gutkowski have put punch back in to Felt Forum boxing". NEWSDAY. 23 NOV. 1986
  21. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Sunnyside Garden Going Down for Count". DAILY NEWS. 4 DEC. 1977
  22. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Demolition Rig Vandalized". DAILY NEWS. 6 DEC. 1977
  23. ^ Rabin, Bernard. "Demolition Rig Vandalized". DAILY NEWS. 6 DEC. 1977

Additional sources[edit]

  • Anonymous. "Comeback For Sunnyside Garden". QUEENS TRIBUNE. 15 AUG. 1975.
  • Anonymous. "Fight Game Comes Back". SUNDAY NEWS. 19 OCT. 1975.
  • Anonymous. "Sunnyside Landmark Makes Room For Fast-Food Hamburger Chain". WOODSIDE HERALD. 9 DEC. 1977.
  • D'O'Brian, Joseph. "The Business of Boxing". AMERICAN HERITAGE. OCT. 1991.
  • Ferretti, Fred. "Narcotics Are Complicating Sunnyside's". THE NEW YORK TIMES. 6 JUN. 1971.
  • Gergen, Joe. "Bobby Cassidy Fights On And On And On: One man's hard-knock life-in and out of the ring". THE NEWSDAY MAGAZINE. 23 MAR. 1986.
  • Gross, Kenneth. "Once It Was Known as Bliss". NEWSDAY. 21 OCT. 1979.
  • Hirshon, Nicholas. "Monumental Fight". DAILY NEWS/NYDailyNews.com. 23 NOV. 2010.
  • Ingrassia, Michele. "Inside the Ring or Out, There's Always Action at Sunnyside. THE NEW YORK TIMES. 16 APR. 1972.
  • LeDuff, Charlie. "An Effort to Recapture The Old Allure of Boxing". NEW YORK TIMES. 25 NOV. 2000.
  • Matthews, Wallace. "No Longer on the Ropes: Goodman, Gutkowski have put punch back into Felt Forum boxing". NEWSDAY. 23 NOV. 1986.
  • Morales, Tina. "Onetime Farm Town Grows With Location". NEWSDAY. SUNDAY 4 FEB. 1990.
  • Rabin, Bernard. "Demolition Rig Vandalized". DAILY NEWS. 6 DEC. 1977
  • Rabin, Bernard. "Sunnyside Garden Going Down for Count". DAILY NEWS. 4 DEC. 1977.
  • Shapiro, Hal. "50-Year Old Boxing Arena To Get a New Lease on Life". LI PRESS. 21 OCT. 1973.
  • http://boxrec.com/media/index.php/Sunnyside_Garden

Coordinates: 40°44′35″N 73°55′12″W / 40.7430°N 73.9200°W / 40.7430; -73.9200