I remember going to a fight at the Legendary Blue Horizon with my dad about five or six years ago and thinking that I wanted to work there. In September of 2009, I went to the Blue and asked for an internship. I knew it was going to be a long shot but I got what I wanted.
Boxing veterans remember fights at the Blue Horizon from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s. From what I have heard and read, there were some great times, but I never experienced those times. I experienced the Blue Horizon in a different way.
I “got my feet wet” in that building and it was amazing. I loved being a part of the only true fight venue left in Philadelphia. The balcony seats practically hung over the ring. I would have traded sitting inside the ringside rails at the Legendary Blue Horizon for the first couple rows of balcony seats on the north and south sides.
The first time I worked a fight it was not a Blue Horizon promotion—it was a Peltz Boxing promotion. I remember being on the north balcony helping people find their seats and just stopping for a moment to take everything in. Ever since I was a kid I knew boxing was my passion. I knew I could never fight because it was against my father’s wishes, so I found another angle to get involved.
The first fight I worked at the Blue was the USBA super bantamweight title fight between Teon Kennedy, of Philadelphia, and Francisco Rodriguez, of Chicago. I remember watching the main event fight with another student and telling her: “Kennedy was too strong for Rodriguez.” My first time at work that evening turned out to be a tragedy, but it didn’t stop me from going back.
The Blue Horizon was not just the legendary fight arena on Broad Street to me. It’s where I figured out what career path I wanted. It was where I met Bobby Boogaloo Watts, Stanley Kitten Hayward, Randall Tex Cobb and many others. I didn’t just meet faces of the past. I met people currently involved with the business as well as up-and-coming fighters, one who became friend of mine and one of the best people I know, Steve Upsher-Chambers.
The first card I worked with Blue Horizon Promotions was different. It was the Steve Upsher Chambers vs. Doel Carrasquillo fight in December, 2009. Working with Ms. Vernoca Michael and Don Elbaum got me educated about the fight game and the process of putting together a card. I learned a lot working there and I will never forget it.
No matter how big the venue was, how scary the basement was, how empty it was on a daily basis, I always felt at home. I didn’t know walking into the building on June 4, 2010, would be the last fight I would ever work there. I knew the end was coming but I did not know it was that night. I remember going to work the following week and Ms. Michael was beginning to clean out the building. All of the pictures in her office had been removed from the walls and the gloves from the cabinet were packed up. The venue felt more than empty–it didn’t feel like home anymore.
I was extremely sad to see the building go. I had hopes of someone buying it and re-starting it. It breaks my heart knowing that the venue will no longer be used as a fight arena. Mosaic Development Partners recently purchased the building and are looking to turn the fight venue into restaurant and hotel. Not something I look forward to! What will happen with the balcony seating, the cathedral style ceiling, the lighting, just everything that made the venue a true fight venue?
I hate to be the one to say it, but no one can change what is already done. I like to try to put a positive spin on things; maybe it’s time for a change. When Eagles fans think Eagles, they think Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and the Linc (Lincoln Financial Field), but they remember the nose-bleed seating at the Vet and Randall Cunningham and Ron Jaworski. The older ones remember Franklin Field with Norm Van Brocklin, Chuck Bednarik and Tommy McDonald.
I have never been one to dwell on the past and change sometimes can be a good thing. There is still the Asylum Arena in South Philadelphia and the National Guard Armory in the Northeast. Who knows, maybe there’s another great venue hidden in a pocket somewhere throughout the city. Philly has a great crop of fighters now and it’s time to make boxing history somewhere else.
Many people have voiced their opinions about the Legendary Blue Horizon, the owners and how the quality of fights has changed over the years. More often than not people have negative comments, but for me that building gave me an experience of a lifetime.
Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.
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