On November 4, 1924, California voters pass a measure to legalize professional boxing, a sport outlawed in the state because of safety concerns since 1914. “Manly Art Returns,” reads a headline in one newspaper.
From 1914 to 1924, professional boxing had become a national phenomenon, spearheaded by champions such as heavyweight Jack Dempsey and lightweight Benny Leonard.
“Since the war,” wrote the Los Angeles Daily News, “boxing has reached a considerably higher plane as a profession and its champions like Dempsey and Leonard are considered first-class accounts by banks and investment agencies.”
The newspaper noted the federal government’s sanction of the sport in its big army camps during World War I created a change in how the public viewed a sport thought to be barbaric. In the early 1900s, San Francisco was one of boxing’s hotbeds in California.
“The boxing measure has safeguarded the interest of the public by licensing boxers, managers and promoters, who will at all times be under the observation of the state athletic commission, which is invested with authority to prevent an influx of undesirables.” wrote the Daily News following the election.
The sport has had an uninterrupted run in California since the 1924 measure was passed.