The Olympic Auditorium was a focal point for Mexican and Mexican American culture in Los Angeles. Its ring was a platform for contenders from Southern California and south of the border that prompted fierce rivalries and inspired intense bonds between athletes and fans. A part of the social fabric of L.A., the Olympic influenced popular culture through its weekly presence on local television, with its famous phone number “Richmond 9-5171,” and frequent appearances in Hollywood films and TV shows. The action and atmosphere at the Olympic attracted movie stars, gangsters, artists, writers, and community organizers. Still, its most loyal fans were working-class Angelenos, a fact well understood by Olympic manager Aileen Eaton, a female promoter who thrived in the male-dominated world of combat sports for nearly four decades.
18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium is an immersive exhibition that encompasses both floors of the museum and cultural center and remembers characters from a disappearing world, from heroes to villains, connecting the venue to seminal events and cultural movements throughout L.A. history. Gathered from multiple collections the exhibit features distinctive objects, relics, and images, such as embroidered boxing robes, hand-stitched lucha masks, race-worn roller skates, illustrations, photography, film, oral histories, boxing posters, wrestling programs, punk rock flyers, art and more.
Curated by filmmaker Stephen DeBro, Latino boxing historian and author Gene Aguilera with LA Plaza curators Karen Crews Hendon, Esperanza Sanchez, and the LA Plaza curatorial team.
Exhibition Dates: August 11, 2023- April 7, 2024
Image: Theo Ehret (1920-2012), Mil Máscaras and Ernie Ladd at the Olympic Auditorium, c.1970s, Black and white photograph, Courtesy of Theo Ehret Estate, ©Theo Ehret Estate. Used with permission, all rights reserved