Ten Things I Like: Fight Venues

Ten Things I Like: Fight Venues

Combat

Ten Things I Like: Fight Venues

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Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Nearly a century of history. The barrel vault ceiling, the auditorium layout, the crown jewel of the revered Atlantic City fight game. Nowhere else looks quite like it, and the atmosphere can get red-hot. Rumor has it, fans of Kelly Pavlik drank it out of beer at his world title challenge of Jermaine Taylor.

 

MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

Nothing really stands out about MGM, but it’s about the familiarity. The shape of the stands, the lighting, the fixtures, the green seats. You know you’re watching a big damned fight card.

 

Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada

Outdoor fights always feel a little more special, and in the 70s and 80s, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a big outdoor bout taking place at Caesar’s.

 

Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York

“The World’s Most Famous Arena” doesn’t have many identifiable markings as a viewer until you see the ceiling. Then it’s instantly recognizable, and you remember some of the biggest fights in history have happened underneath it. Also, athletes of all walks get extra charged up to play there.

 

Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, California

A relatively new addition, having opened in 2003, the former Home Depot Center/StubHub Center has a more intimate atmosphere, due to being mostly a soccer stadium and a smaller capacity than most stadiums, and for some reason, it always frames the sky very nicely. You start watching the card in bright sunshine and ends in the lights at night.

 

Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

A small hall inside a bigger building. A capacity of 2,005. Mostly wood bleachers. You would never, for a second, believe this place would be absolutely dripping with history. It is the absolute mecca of puroresu (Japanese wrestling), but it still has lots of history in more legitimate combat sports. Joe Frazier won gold there in the 1964 Summer Olympics, it has featured tons of notable championship boxing and kickboxing bouts, and hosts big MMA bouts from Japanese promotions like Pancrase, Shooto, and DEEP.

 

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan

If Korakuen is the Mecca is Japanese combat sports, the Tokyo Dome is the final boss. If you’re competing in the Tokyo Dome, you made it, my friend. A baseball stadium, home of the Yomiuri Giants, “the Dome” has hosted some of the biggest events in combat history. K-1 routinely had their tournament finals there, some of the biggest PRIDE events of all-time have been hosted at the dome, and maybe it’s most memorable contest, Buster Douglas toppling Mike Tyson in one of the biggest upsets in sports history. The sheer size of it is awe-inspiring when it’s just a ring in the middle, and there’s a constant big-fight feeling in it.

 

Ryōgoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan

Also known as Sumo Hall. Says it right there in the name. It’s the home of Sumo wrestling. No other building looks like it or is layed out like it. It’s also hosted lots of boxing, including boxing in the 2021 Summer Olympics.

 

Wembley Stadium, London, England

Ahhh…the Brits. With their chanting, flag-waving, ale-tipping, and general insanity over their favorite teams and athletes. The atmosphere in stadiums across the pond is second to none, and BOY, does the UK show up and show up large for their favorites. I can’t even imagine the terror their opponents must feel walking into that sea of hatred.

 

Lumpinee Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand

In the same way that Ryoguku is the home of sumo, Lumpinee is the epicentre of muay thai. Any Thai fighter who is anyone has fought there, and possibly hundreds of times. Blood, sweat, and tears have been spilled by the bucket here in the name of the eight-limbs.

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