PHILLY BOXING HISTORY

Venue: The Met  

Home Boxers Fights Arenas Non-Boxers Gyms Relics More About Contact
 
 
 
  THE MET  
     
 

 
     
     
 

The Met was opened in 1908 as the Philadelphia Opera House. Designed and built by theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein, the venue was the largest of its kind at the time with a seating capacity of more than 4,000 for opera events. It's grand opening came on November 17, 1908 with a performance of Bizet's Carmen. Two years later in 1910, the venue was sold to the Metropolitan Opera of New York, and renamed the Metropolitan Opera House. It operated as an opera house through 1922, and around 1920, also began showing movies. In the late 1930s, boxing promoter Jimmy Toppi purchased the building and converted it into a boxing venue. As a fight site, the Met offered 192 boxing events from 1939 to 1954, with a seating capacity for boxing around 5,500. This made the Met one of the biggest indoor boxing arenas in the city during its time. Only Convention Hall and the Arena had more space for indoor boxing.

The very first boxing show featured Norristown's Tony Cisco in an six-round main event against Wicky Harkins of Germantown. Cisco won the bout by decision to launch the Met's boxing life. The promoter of the show was former light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran, who was the house promoter through 1940, staging 11 shows in all. Then the venue went dark in 1941, 1942 and 1943.
 

 
 

In 1944, the Met came back to life. With Jimmy Toppi as the new house promoter, the Met ran boxing events continuously for the next ten years. The first event in this new run, was on October 9, 1944, and featured rising teenage welterweight sensation Billy Arnold. Known as "The New Joe Louis", Arnold was on a tear. His first round KO of Frankie Wills at the Met stretched his career-staring unbeaten streak to 25-0. That streak would extend to 31 straight bouts. This first fight of the Met's second chapter drew approximately 5,200 fan, and still stands as the venue's biggest boxing box office record.

Over the year, the Met would host countless local boxing stars, including Joey Giardello, Percy Bassett, Wesley Mouzon, George Benton, Gil Turner, Eddie Giosa, Tommy Forte, Johnny Forte, Bobby Green, Jimmy Tygh, Gene Burton, Dorsey Lay, Santa Bucca, Jetson Arnold, Toothpick Brown, Ellis Phillips, Johnny Walker, Freddie Sammons, George LaRover, Otis Graham, Billy Thompson, Honeychile Johnson, Gil Turner, Carmen Bartolomeo, Marvin Edelman, Dan Bucceroni, as well as Kid Gavilan, Ike Williams, Lew Jenkins, Johnny Saxton, and many others.

At its peak, the Met offered 34 shows in 1946 and 36 shows in 1947. Activity dipped some during the 1950s, but there were excellent fights, often high profile cross-town rivalries, every year through the remainder of its run.

The Met
Indoor Club / 5,500 Capacity
South Philly - 858 N. Broad Street

Main Event List
Poster Gallery
Program Gallery
Photo Gallery

 KEY DATES FOR
THE MET

   1939 - First boxing card - 10/31
   1939 - Forte vs. Marcelline - 11/21
   1941 - No fights 1941-1943
   1944 - Billy Arnold fight - 10/09
   1947 - Kid Gavilan fight - 09/18
   1948 - Ike Williams fight - 11/18
   1949 - Percy Bassett fight - 2/10
   1950 - Giardello vs. Bernardo - 1/26
   1952 - Benton vs. Mims - 1/10
   1954 - Turner vs. Scott - 11/18 
   2019 - Re-Opens - 02/23 

 
 
The final show at the Met came on November 18, 1954, and was promoted by Jimmy Riggio. In the main event, veteran Gil Turner stopped the rising Charley Scott in eight rounds. After this event, the Met halted its boxing life and eventually closed completely.

However, unlike other great Philly boxing venues, the Met's story ends on a much more upbeat note. Instead of being torn down and totally forgotten, the Met survived through the years and eventually received a multi-million dollar renovation in 2018. Purchased by Live Nation, a national concert promoter, the Met returned with a varied schedule of events, including boxing.

On February 23, 2019, Hard Hitting Promotions (Manny Rivera and Will Ruiz) staged the first boxing event at the Met in more than 64 years. The eight-round main event was a clash of two rising, undefeated local lightweights, Steven Ortiz and Jeremy Cuevas. Ortiz won the decision and with it earned the PA State Lightweight Title. 

The same promoters return to The Met on April 26, and plan another three boxing dates in 2019, with more to come in 2020.

 
     
     
 

ARENAS