clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Looking Back at the Glory Days of "LA's Most Extreme Entertainment Venue"

New, 9 comments

Before it became a Korean Christian church, the Grand Olympic Auditorium was once "LA's most extreme entertainment venue," presenting wrestling, boxing, roller derby, and punk shows to an eclectic audience of grandmas, punks, mobsters, artists, and pretty much anyone looking for a some excitement. Seeking to preserve the divey, fun history of the place is the Olympic Auditorium Project (via on LAist), which is raising funds through Kickstarter to make a documentary about the venue originally built in 1924 and used for the 1932 Olympics.

Imbued with the smell of "cigarette smoke, spilled beer, [and] cheap perfume," as one veteran boxer puts it in the trailer, the auditorium's lineup of pugilistic and theatrical fun made fans of artist Ed Ruscha and wrestler/They Live star Rowdy Roddy Piper. Back when Muhammad Ali was Cassius Clay, he boxed here too. The Grand Olympic was run by Aileen Eaton, a woman so tough and no-nonsense that she's rumored to have grabbed mobster Mickey Cohen by the elbow one night and thrown him out. In the 1980s, the venue began to host punk shows, adding another layer to the building's cultural significance to LA.

The project is nearly 20 percent funded; it needs to meet its goal by June 5.


· The Wild History Behind The Venue Boxers, Wrestlers and Punks Called Home [LAist]
· Grand Olympic Auditorium Now A Korean Church [Curbed LA]