Friday, April 17, 2009

Bringing Boxing back to Da Ville

Back in the 50's, 60's, 70's, and early 80's boxing was a major sport in Louisville, KY.  We had a local television show dedicated to local ametuer boxing, the mayor had a big tourney, and ever community center had a gym with a paid trainer. All of this investment in boxing paid off. Louisville produced 3 heavyweight champions in that time period. Jimmy Ellis, Greg Page and Muhammad Ali. For the record, Louisville has been home to 4 heavyweight champions. No other city on the planet has had more heavyweight champions! The first one was Marvin Hart in 1906. When you think about it that's amazing considering the size of Louisville. 

Unfortunately, sometime in the early 80's the funding dried up. When the funding dried up so did the talent. Why not bring boxing back to Louisville as part of the city's overall economic development strategy? You would think a city with such a rich history in the sport would try and revive it. Luckily for us a group of people are trying to do just that. I'm happy to say that I am one of them.

For those that don't know me my name is Haven Harrington, and I am the host of the Main Event Sports Show. I'm also a member of CARR and the guy behind the blog. Several months ago we at the Main Event Sports Show got the idea that we want to resurrect boxing in Louisville. We just weren't sure how we were going to accomplish that goal. Then last week we got an e-mail about a boxing match taking place last Friday. The fight was being put on by Dennis Page, the brother of ex-heavyweight champ Greg Page. We contacted Mr. Page about the fight and decided to go. We had a blast. More importantly we ran into someone who wanted the same thing as us. To bring Boxing back to Louisville in a major way. 

Dennis Page has a deep love for boxing and is putting on a series of fights to determine the Kentucky champion. This is the first time in years that local professional boxers will be able to fight in their home state. He is also heavily involved in ameture boxing as well and will soon be putting on a tourney for them.  His gym, Baxter Memorial Gym , will be home to both pro and ameture fighters. This will give kids a chance to see how their workouts now could become careers of the future. They will be exposed to all sorts of tourneys, AAU boxing, and even collegiate boxing. If nothing else they will learn discipline and how to keep in shape. However, this is just the first step. We have to reintroduce boxing to Louisville. We also have to introduce the local fighters to Louisville as well. People us to know the local fighters. Their fights were in the paper, and most people knew where the local gym was. 

There are only 2 boxing gyms in Louisville. 2. In it's heyday the city use to have about 15. To add a little perspective on this subject, St. Louis has about 40 gyms, Indy has close to 25-30, Ashland, Ky a city of about 22,000 has 7 gyms, and the midwest boxing mecca Cincinnati has about 30-40 gyms. Granted, not all of these are pure boxing gyms. Some of these gyms also serve as MMA gyms, but they have a strong boxing training. Louisville has about 4-5 MMA gyms that also have boxing trainers, but it's mainly boxing as it relates to MMA and not the complete sport. This puts Louisville at a serious disadvantage. The city has also lost its Golden Glove membership. However, with only 2 gyms it's  not really worth the effort to get another one. There aren't enough fighters or fans to support one.

So, where do we go from here? I think the first step has already been taken. We have to put on fights. No matter how small they are. We also have to be consistent. The fights need to be on a regular basis. We need to get people use to going to fights. I honestly don't think that will be a big problem. Louisvillans love sports. We supported boxing once before and I think we will again. 

I think we can build on the first fight and make them bigger and better each time we will begin to get some of those old fans back and also attract new ones. Once awareness has been raised it will make it easier to recruit kids. Especially if they can see an upgrade path. Then maybe we can open up another gym. we will also do our part by trying to get sponsors and using our Sports Talk radio show to introduce the public to boxing. 

These are just the first few steps. We have an idea on where we want to go from here and how to do it. But we have to get started first. Check back for updates. I'll keep you posted.


  1. I think it's very hard for boxing to compete with the rise of MMA. I am personally a former boxing fan that 'switched over' to MMA because it's just a much more exciting sport. I also feel like it's safer.

    I don't think boxing is on it's way out, but I'm not really sure how it plans to stay competitive. I don't know anyone who is interested in training in boxing, but I know several guys at my gym who are interested in MMA.

  2. It will be hard for Boxing to compete with MMA, but I think they can coexist. I will also agree with you about the number of people wanting to train for MMA. It's amazing. MMA is growing at phenomenal pace. If I'm not mistaken it is the fastest growing sport in the country.

    What MMA really needs to take off is to have several strong regional promotions. UFC can still be top dog, but you need those regional shows/promotions to keep the average fan interested. Right now UFC pretty much lives off of it's pay-per-view gate. That can only last so long.

    There will be a local MMA fight May 16 at expo 5.

    1. I am from louisville and just spent 8years in the army. I am the son of Dennis Page and I hope to add MMA to the training curriculum at Baxter. I have been training while in the army and i feel that my "freestyle" MMA will be a great assest to MMA, Louisville and Baxter Memorial.