Venue: Municipal Stadium  

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This stadium was built in 1926 to host various events for the Sesquicentennial International Exposition (World's Fair).  Although officially named Philadelphia Municipal Stadium from the start, this gigantic horseshoe of brick and


concrete was also known as Sesquicentennial Stadium in the early days. The massive structure spanned 710 feet wide and 1,020 feet in length. Its typical capacity for its numerous uses was about 75,000.  But on one rainy night, a crowd of more than 120,000 set a boxing attendance record that stood for almost 80 years.

For twenty-six years, Municipal Stadium was the site for the biggest Philadelphia boxing matches that were slated during the so called "outdoor season".  But boxing was only one attraction at the venue.

For many years Municipal Stadium was the site for the annual Army-Navy football game.  It also served as home field for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1930s, the Philadelphia Quakers (American Football League) in the 1920s and the Philadelphia Bell (World Football League) in the 1970s.  Fans also packed Municipal Stadium for giant concert events like Live Aid, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, Michael Jackson, and many others.  But it is boxing that is most associated with the venue.

Only 16 fight cards were staged at Municipal Stadium between 1926 and 1952.  The first was the big bout between South Philly's Tommy Loughran and Georges Carpentier of France.  About 30,000 came to see that one. 

Municipal Stadium
Outdoor Arena / 120,000 Capacity
South Philadelphia - Broad Street

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   1925 - Built for 1926 World's Fair
   1926 - First boxing event
   1926 - Tunney beats Dempsey
   1926 - Attendance record set
   1936 - Joe Louis defeats Ettore
   1936 - Eagles home field (to 1939)
   1947 - Williams-Montgomery II
   1952 - Gavilan-Turner fight
   1952 - Marciano wins title
   1985 - Live Aid Concert
   1964 - Renamed JFK Stadium
   1992 - Stadium demolished


Three months later, it was that aforementioned rainy night when 120,757 people braved the terrible weather to watch 1920s sports God, Jack Dempsey lose his heavyweight championship to Gene Tunney over 10 rounds.

One year later Benny Bass won a 10-round decision over Red Chapman to claim the featherweight championship.  The furious battle included a double knockdown, foreshadowing Rocky Balboa's fictional title win 50 years later. 

Over the next nine years (1928-1935), the stadium hosted only five boxing shows.  In 1936, Joe Louis came to town just before winning the heavyweight title.  In this, his first visit to Philly, the Brown Bomber KO'd West Philadelphian Al Ettore before more than 40,000 fans. Louis would take the crown less than a year after this win. 

After two years of boxing-inactivity, Municipal Stadium came alive for a battle of heavyweight contenders.  Tony Galento dished out a merciless beating to Lou Nova and stopped him in 14 rounds.

In 1947, after eight years without boxing, the venue was the site of the sensational rematch between Ike Williams and Bob Montgomery.  Ike won undisputed recognition of the lightweight championship and reversed a prior knockout loss when he stopped Montgomery in round six.  A crowd of 30,501 was on hand. 

In 1949 & 1950, Sugar Ray Robinson fought at Municipal in two title fights.  First, he beat Kid Gavilan by 15 round decision to retain his world welterweight title.  The following year, Robinson defeated Robert Villemain in another 15 rounder to take a share of the middleweight championship.  Both events had crowds of more than 20,000. 

The final three fights at Municipal Stadium, all took place during the outdoor season of 1952.  In June, Jersey Joe Walcott beat Ezzard Charles in their fourth match to defend his world heavyweight belt.  In July, local favorite Gil Turner challenged Kid Gavilan for the world welterweight crown.  The 31-0 youngster fought well for ten rounds, but the all-time great won the struggle in the deep water of the 11th round.

The very last fight to be staged at this famous venue, again crowned a new heavyweight champion.  On September 23, 1952 - 26 years to the day after Tunney beat Dempsey for the crown in the stadium's first year - Rocky Marciano KO'd Jersey Joe Walcott in round 13 with one of the greatest punches ever thrown.  Never again was boxing in the spotlight at Municipal Stadium.

The stadium continued to host football games, concerts and other events.  In 1964, it was renamed "JFK Stadium".  The very last event staged at JFK was a 1989 Grateful Dead concert.  The structure was condemned later that year and was finally demolished in 1992. 

The site was redeveloped and the Wachovia Center - the home of the Philadelphia 76ers & Flyers - was built in the same spot.