Boxing, after several lean years, took an upward • swing during 1954, a year which saw an unusual amount of activity among the champions, a number of the smaller clubs in the United States reopen, attendances rise slightly and a more realistic attitude toward television.
World Championship Matches.—Rocky Marciano, undefeated world heavyweight champion, twice defended his title during the year, gaining a decision over Ezzard Charles in 15 rounds on June 17 at Yankee stadium, New York, before the biggest gate of the year, $543,092, paid by 47,585 spectators. and then on Sept. 17, also at New York, knocking out Charles in eight rounds. Both fights were screened exclusively for theatre-television, with the second bout doing a record gross of $500,000 at the theatre and drive-in box offices.
Archie Moore, world light-heavyweight champion, also twice successfully defended his title during 1954, outpointing Joey Maxim in 15 rounds at Miami, Fla., on Jan. 27, and then knocking out Harold Johnson in the 14th round at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Aug. ii.
Carl (Bobo) Olson, world middleweight champion, defended his crown against three challengers. He took a split I5-round decision from world welterweight champion Kid Gavilan on April 2 at the Chicago stadium, won a unanimous 15-round decision on Aug. 20 from Rocky Castellani at the Cow Palace, San Francisco, and scored a technical knockout in 11 rounds over Pierre Langlois of France on Dec. 15, also in San Francisco.
After two postponements because of illness, Kid Gavilan de-fended his welterweight title against Johnny Saxton at Philadelphia, on Oct. 20. After 15 rounds of unimpressive showing on the part of both men, the officials unanimously awarded the decision to Saxton, who thereupon became the new welter-weight champion of the world.
In the lightweight division the title twice changed hands during the year. On March 5 at Madison Square Garden, New York, Paddy De Marco took a unanimous decision from James Carter, but Carter regained the crown on Nov. 17 by scoring a technical knockout over De Marco at the Cow Palace at San Francisco.
The featherweight title was the only world crown which went undefended during 1954. Champion Sandy Saddler, who was in the U.S. army since early 1952, was discharged in 1954.
Jimmy Carruthers, of Australia, world bantamweight champion, successfully defended his title against Chamrern Songkitrat, of Thailand, on May 2 at Bangkok, Thai., before a crowd of 69,792, which paid $217,000. Shortly after, Carruthers, who had been undefeated during his professional career, announced his retirement from the ring and left the title vacant. The World Regulating Championship committee then selected Robert Cohen, of France, and Songkitrat to fight for the crown, the winner to defend it against the winner of an elimination bout between Raton Macias, of Mexico, and Nate Brooks, of the United States. Cohen outpointed Songkitrat over 15 rounds on Sept. 19 at Bangkok before a crowd of 70,000 to win the title. A week later, in Mexico City, Macias outpointed Brooks for what was billed as the North American title match.
World flyweight champion Yoshio Shirai, after successfully defending his title against Leo Espinosa of Manila on May 3, lost it to Pascual Perez, of Argentina, over 15 rounds on Nov. 26. Both matches were held in Tokyo, Japan.
Televising of Matches.—While the figure rose from four national hook-up television boxing shows a week to five, the plight of independent promoters was eased somewhat when during the year a number of shows were blacked out, completely kept off television and given over to theatre television. Also, in the case of the Wednesday night show, one program of the month was eliminated entirely, and with the Saturday night telecasts, occasional shows were devoted entirely to the amateurs, thus saving expenses. As of late 1954, there were about a dozen weekly telecasts of bouts in the United States, both local and national.
Boxing Hall of Fame.
During the year a boxing Hall of Fame was inaugurated, spurred by the efforts of the Ring magazine, with temporary headquarters of the Hall of Fame to be in the Ring museum in Madison Square Garden. The board of di-rectors automatically voted in 15 "ancients," pioneers of the sport, the old timers' committee voted in six fighters, while the moderns elected three. Seventy-five per cent of the total votes was necessary for election in this world-wide poll.
The following is the list of those elected:
John L. Sullivan, heavyweight; James Figg, heavy-weight; Jack Broughton, heavyweight; Daniel Mendoza, heavyweight; Tom Cribb, heavyweight; John Jackson, heavyweight; Tom Hyer, heavy-weight; Jack Dempsey, heavyweight: John Morrissey, heavyweight; Tom Sayers, heavyweight; John C. Hennan, heavyweight; Jem Mace, heavy-weight; Arthur Chambers, lightweight; Jack McAuliffe, lightweight; Young Griffo, featherweight.
Old Timers' group
: Stanley Ketchel, middleweight; Bob Fitzsimmons, heavyweight; Jack Johnson, heavyweight; Joe Gans, lightweight; James J. Jeffries, heavyweight; James J. Corbett. heavyweight.
Jack Dempsey, heavyweight; Joe Louis, heavyweight; Henry Armstrong, welter, light and featherweight champion.