The night I was there, there were many children in the audience but, in curious apposition, wide-open gambling with fingers flourished for odds.
Now there is a third force in the Southland. It is Bill Rosensohn, the first of the Ivy League promoters, thin, as Stanislaus Joyce wrote of a contemporary, as a thrush's shin but dashing, enthusiastic and ingenuous. Along with the Legion, TelePromp-Ter and Jack Hurley, Rosensohn promoted the Patterson-Harris fight and, though the take was not as high as he first expected, it was higher than his predictions in the gloomy days before the fight. "I've got boundless energy," Rosensohn told me during that depressing time. "I look to do things where you put a hell of a lot of energy into a thing and then quit. Sure, I'll go for the big show in the future. And maybe I'll try to put on shows three times a month, too. Win, lose or draw on the Patterson fight, I've learned an awful lot. But whatever I lose is going to be cheap; I've got my foot in the door. You know what concerns me more than the dollar is the quality of the fight. This town has been played for a sucker with Silky Sullivan and Pete Rademacher. You've got to take care of the fans, or they won't take care of you."
Although no one truly knows why Los Angeles is a good weekly fight town ("The boxing's the cheapest place in town," a man told me. "For two bucks you can kill a night.") both the Legion and the Olympic feel that their survival has depended upon the assiduous buildup of local talent. "We made Art Aragon here, for example," says Ogilvie. "We gave him fairly soft opponents. Not too soft, you understand, just soft enough to tease him on. And since there's a small margin of profit in this business, it's cheaper to use a local product. It costs to bring fighters in. If you can keep building up local interest, you got it made." The genial weather and the tradition of consecutive shows have also helped; the Legion has been running 35 years, the Olympic's current series dates back to June, 1942.
Only Ed Underwood, then, sounds a dark note in the Southland. But he will, most likely, have little say in the future. It has been reliably reported that a deal is now being consummated in which new promoters will take over the boxing at the Legion for a figure in the neighborhood of $150,000 for three years. It has also been learned that Truman Gibson and the International Boxing Club, who have favored the Legion and the Olympic with some half dozen shows a year, are contemplating originating a great many more of their programs from Los Angeles.
"I realize we're still blowing dust out of our boots according to the people back east," says Jack Urch, Executive Officer of the California State Athletic Commission, "but I don't see why we can't make Los Angeles the fight capital of the United States."
Shucks, that's what Leonard Jacobsen, in his heavy-cream dinner jacket, was telling the people.