Stadium later renamed Festival Hall
rebuilt after the old West Melbourne Stadium was burnt down.
were held at the Fitzroy Stadium while the rebuilding took place.
One of the 3 complimentary tickets to YV vs Cursio
12 rounder 25 Aug 1961
View some of the old programs PROGRAMS
West Melbourne Stadium ( later Festival Hall )
This is where most of my fights took place ( renovations
for Olympic Games)1956
Festival Hall in Melbourne
was the place to be seen and the venue of many a sell out sports or
entertainment event for decades. Probably
best known for staging professional wrestling and boxing matches, many a riot
started at The Hall, and some even spilled into the street and parking lot.
Festival Hall as
is now known - Stadium then and known as West Melbourne Stadium was built by
John Wren in 1915. Rebuilt
in 1956 after being burnt down the year before, it was the Olympic Games venue
for gymnastics and wrestling. In
the 1950s and 1960s it became an entertainment centre, with famous appearances
including Bill Haley, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles.
It was renamed Festival Hall in the latter part of 1959.
By the 1990s it had been
overtaken by more spectacular venues, but the Wren family remained in ownership.
Sydney Stadium at
Rushcutters Bay Capacity 15,000
Hugh Donald Macintosh
ushered in a new era in Australian Boxing when he leased a Chinese market garden
site at Rushcutters Bay on the corner of New South Head Road and Neild Avenue.
Here he built the Sydney Stadium to promote a world title fight between Tommy
Burns and Bill Squires on 24th August 1908. Burns won this first major
competition (although there were a few earlier exhibition matches) by a knockout
in the 13th Round. The early big fights proved to extremely popular and
On 261h December 1908,
Tommy Burns accepted an offer of 6,000 pounds to defend his heavy weight title
against Jack Johnson - the first Black American to try for a world title in the
class - at Sydney Stadium. This fight provoked a huge amount of interest in
Sydney for a number of reasons: there was an increasing interest in all things
American in Australia
due in part to the visit of the United States Great White Fleet to Australia,
the novelty of Johnson being Black and a prevailing fear in some quarters that
if Burns were defeated it might signal a weakness in what was seen as the Anglo-Saxon Race. This interest encouraged a huge crowd to
pay to watch the fight.
According to the Australian
Encyclopaedia, Johnson was to receive 1,500 pounds but when he saw the full
house on the night of the fight he demanded more money. Macintosh forced Johnson
to enter the ring a gunpoint. The fight was stopped by police in round 14 when
Burns was knocked out, though the referee awarded the fight on points to
The Stadium was roofed in
1911 and in 1912 was acquired by the sportsman Reginald "Snowy" Baker
(1884-1953) and his brother Harald. In 1914, Stadiums Pty. Ltd. was formed with
Baker, Richard Lean and the Melbourne based financier and gambler John Wren
(1871-1953) as the chief shareholders.
World War restrictions
closed the Stadium in 1916, and it reopened at the end of the War. Boxing
matches continued to be held at the Stadium until the 1970s, although by the
1950s it was also being used for music and stage productions and for over half a
century was an important part of Sydney's popular culture.
The Stadium was demolished
in 1973 to make way for the overhead section of the Eastern Suburbs Railway. Its
former site is marked by a plaque.
Paul Convy - March
reading Sydney Stadium
and John Wren and my tribute. GOOD
OLD DAYS never to be seen again.
View boxer's names Billings on Young
Victor's fight nights (Programs) here
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