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Arts and Entertainment

The Wild History Behind The Venue Boxers, Wrestlers and Punks Called Home

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The Grand Olympic Auditorium hosted many of L.A.'s biggest boxing matches, wrestling bouts and punk shows for decades, and a new feature-length documentary plans to capture the wild history of the former sports venue. If the Olympic Auditorium Project reaches the Kickstarter goal of $60,000 by June 5th, the filmmakers aim to share the stories of the fighters, musicians, insiders and fans.

Built in 1924 on the corner of 18th St. and Grand Ave. in downtown L.A., the Grand Olympic Auditorium hosted weight-lifting, boxing and wrestling matches for the 1932 Olympic games. For the next several decades, the storied venue hosted boxing legends from Joe Louis to Oscar De La Hoya, wrestling greats from Gorgeous George to Andre the Giant, and musicians from Ten Years After to the Black Flag. The auditorium was also long home to the roller derby matches of the Los Angeles T-Birds and was where Rage Against the Machine played their final show in 2000 (before reuniting in 2007).

Fans in the packed crowds of the Olympic over the years were often as notable as the fighters and performers, and included everyone from Mickey Cohen to Mae West, Joan Didion to Clint Eastwood.

Those of us who missed out on the glory days of the Olympic would likely recognize the historic auditorium from movies such as Rocky and Million Dollar Baby, as well as music video like Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" and Janet Jackson's "Control".

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The team behind the awesome-sounding project to highlight the venue's history has already interviewed some of the key figures from the Olympic's history, including Dick Enberg, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Ed Ruscha.

The building is currently occupied by the Glory Church of Jesus Christ, a Korean-American Christian church.

If reached, the Kickstarter funding will help secure additional interviews, shoot b-roll, license music, and finance editing and post-production. Major donors to the campaign will be invited to attend a special dinner at Neal Fraser's Redbird and a BBQ dinner hosted by former pro-wrestler and stuntman Gene LeBell, in addition to other perks.