Parnassus was right, the shabby hall was not even a third full. Becerra knocked Parker down three times in the second round and after the last knockdown the referee stopped the fight. "Beccccerrrrra!" they cried. Becerra danced lightly, jubilantly, holding his index fingers above his head. When he left the ring, he was carried by his admirers up the aisle, riding perilously on their shoulders, as a woman riding a jumper sidesaddle.
Becerra, like many of the fighters from viejo Mejico, speaks no English. He is a polite boy with a flat, kind face and wears a light suit with enormous shoulder pads and swooping lapels, from one of which dangle two miniature, jeweled boxing gloves. He smiles gravely and bows when introduced. He shakes your hand like all fighters, as though it were a live bird whose tiny bones would break if squeezed. "You are," a man told him, "one of the five cleanest-living fighters in all of Mexico, Joe. Tell him that, John." John told it to him in Spanish, and Becerra smiled and looked at the floor. It was a grand compliment.
Parnassus, a former manager, has an almost paternal attitude towards the Olympic. "I see a man being taken out by an officer," he says. "Perhaps he had had too much to drink. I say to him, 'Would you like to sit down with me?' So we sit down and I talk to him. I do not like to see anyone taken out of my place.
"And there was the time I saw some people tearing down my retaining wall. So I went up to them and I said, 'What are you doing?' 'We are tearing down the wall, Mr. Parnassus,' they said. 'Why are you doing that?' I said. 'Because we do not like the decision,' they said. 'I do not like it either,' I said. 'Here, let me help you.' And I take out a few bricks myself. They all laugh and stop tearing down my wall.
"But the main thing here is to get the people into the Thursday night habit. I don't want them to ask themselves who is fighting, what is his record, but remember that it is Thursday night and that is the night to go to the fights. Promoting is a business where you have to gamble to make attractions to make up for the losses. I am a gambler."
The Hollywood Legion Stadium is not. Owned and operated as a nonprofit, charitable enterprise by Post No. 43 of the American Legion, the mauve-and-white building with the movie-modern fa�ade on North El Centro near the center of Hollywood was built in 1938 and seats 6,400.
A CLASSROOM IN HOLLYWOOD
"We're a conservative club," says Jim Ogilvie. "Now that competition between us and the Olympic is getting keen, that's when you have to gamble but we can't; we can't get the post in a hole on the boxing. That's why we're contemplating getting out of boxing."
Sid Ziff, Sports Editor of the L.A. Mirror-News, quotes Ed Underwood, chairman of the post's board of trustees, on this subject: "We believe," says Underwood, "that the day of the small, independent boxing club is gone and feel the sensible thing to do is to get a fixed income from the property. The Great American Public now wants a can of beer and a TV set and the hell with anything else."
The stadium, a spacious and well-lit arena in good repair, is, as Ogilvie says proudly, "wholesome. Fellows can bring their wives and girl friends. Why, until recently, we didn't even sell beer!" But there is an antiseptic, almost classroom air to the place. Elderly Legionnaires of disorderly sizes carry the flag into the ring before the main bout and the announcer tells you that the United States is "the greatest country in the world."