The Schlitz Bouts:
Where Glitz and Glamor Bob and Weave with Sport and Style
The Schlitz Bouts was “a night of heritage boxing, style and entertainment.” There was no shortage of these on this night, as the immaculate facility and various entertainers provided a seemingly endless array of period details for the 400+ lucky guests. In one room, a cigar roller made his pungent wares with deft skill; a craftsman used an old-time letterpress to print cards with portraits of the night’s fighters; a handsome, wooden bar offered handmade cocktails and, of course, Schlitz. Across the hall, a jazz band played dance songs for swinging couples, each decked out in period-appropriate attire, while the plentiful wait staff whisked tray after tray of oysters and other food nimbly across the floor. Beautiful people smiled and greeted one another, boxing royalty bobbed and weaved with movers and shakers, and a palpable energy could be felt in the air.
The main event, a thumb-less fist of boxing matches across several weight classes, took the crowd to the Club’s gymnasium, where a barbershop quartet sang a pleasant rendition of the National Anthem to a dramatically hung Old Glory. The audience surrounded the ring on every side, with flappers, referees, and scoop-hatted pressmen clinging to tables nearest the ropes. A ring announcer shouted out stats, while comic bits kept the masses entertained in between bouts: an Irish beat cop did little to instill a sense of security in the crowd (but a lot to display his affection for booze), a live radio commercial hawked the sponsor’s greatness, a portly gangster overlooked the scene menacingly, and a newsboy Unionizer shared news and information in his gruff, earnest tone. A dance troupe with fancy moves worked the ring, as did gorgeous ring girls displaying round updates.
No one would kiss the canvas, but the displays of pugilistic prowess were undeniable, as four strong men held their arms aloft in victory, and four strong men struggled to hold their heads high despite the disappointing decisions. When the boxing legend and guest of honor “Sugar” Shane Moseley awarded Sharma with his gleaming trophy, the assembled throng of partygoers rose to cheer him and each of the night’s fighters, toasting their heroism and displays of class, finesse, and courage. The calls echoed throughout the Hollywood Athletic Club’s hallowed halls, bouncing past the revelers and out into the night.