Boxing Not Always Welcomed

Boxing was in the news in the state last weekend with Chad Dawson of New Haven beating Antonio Tarver for the light heavyweight title in Las Vegas on Oct. 11. But do you remember when boxing was banned in Connecticut?

"With a quick right jab of his pen, Gov. Dempsey Wednesday outlawed professional boxing after Oct. 1." So began the story in The Courant on July 8, 1965.

The bill stated that the sport "would be outlawed until such time as it is regulated by a federal agency."

The idea was to put pressure on the federal government.

"Unfortunately there is mounting evidence that in many sections of this country boxing lacks proper supervision," Dempsey's statement said. "Boxers are unnecessarily injured, sometimes fatally. . . . Because boxing is a sport attractive to a great many spectators and because it offers young athletes a means of earning a livelihood, I hope very much that the passage of this bill by the Connecticut General Assembly and similar action elsewhere will help to bring about the early adoption of federal regulations."

Then, on April 17, 1972, Gov. Meskill signed a bill to give jurisdiction over all boxing matches to the state consumer protection commissioner, thus allowing boxing back into Connecticut. One reason given - the development of the Hartford Civic Center and the New Haven Coliseum. Boxing was viewed as a way to increase revenue for the buildings.

The New Haven Coliseum no longer exists. The Civic Center is a much different place, now called the XL Center. And there are still believers in the need for a federal agency to regulate the sport, one being presidential candidate John McCain, who has "lobbied aggressively for creation of a U.S. Boxing Commission within the Department of Commerce," according to a Wall Street Journal story just last week.