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Sunnyside Street Co-Named After Famous Sporting Arena

Sept. 23, 2014 By Christian Murray

City officials and boxing enthusiasts turned out Saturday for the co-naming of 45th Street to pay tribute to the now-demolished Sunnyside Garden Arena where fighters and wrestlers used to duke it out.

The Sunnyside Garden Arena, a 2,000-seat venue that was once located where Wendy’s now stands at 44-11 Queens Blvd, hosted boxing events from 1945 to 1977 during the golden years of NYC boxing. Many famous fighters from that era got their start at the arena, and it was a stepping stone to the brighter lights of Madison Square Garden.

Members of the Ring 8 Boxing Association, a group for retired boxers, unveiled the new street sign along with Dave Diamante, the official announcer at the Barclays Center, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Two years ago, many of the same boxing enthusiasts came out when a memorial was placed on the front lawn of Wendy’s that also marked the location.

John Edebohls, who was raised just a couple of blocks away from the arena, said when the memorial was unveiled:“This place launched many careers: Emile Griffith [middleweight world champ] and Jose Torres [light heavyweight world champ].”

The arena was where Gerry Cooney launched his professional career, Edebolhs said. Cooney would go on to fight Larry Holmes in 1982 for the heavyweight title. Cooney lost.

Luke Adams, a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, said when the monument was unveiled that the arena was not just for boxing. “They had proms there, they made a movie there (Mr. Universe), and in 1960 John F. Kennedy had one of the first rallies of his Presidential campaign there.”

Sunnyside Garden

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20 Comments

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ed butler

i was the maintenance man there in the early sixties and it was great venue.Amateur boxing, roller derby, dances and all kinds of events. It’s history goes back to the
Vanderbuilts who used it as a garage and private tennis courts.
The greatest pleasure my mother got from watching pro wrestling was gorgeous george and the hat pin lady who were always at the garden.
Ed

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JackB, Warwick

Sunnyside Gardens was originally a private club for the wealthy from Manhattan. There were indoor tennis courts and a small bar. It had a live in custodian who had quarters on the top floor rear. In the late 40’s early 50’s my brother Bernie ran CYO basketball tournaments there. Don Mele from Astoria played. He went on to play for the Boston Red Sox and manage the Minnesotta Twins. I was the ball boy.

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u say tomaydo I say tomato

If this place gets credit then rename 47th and Queens Blvd “Popcorn Club Way” – Its Where KISS played their first gig, Ramones, Link Wray, NY Dolls Etc

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Roxy

The Sunnyside Garden was directly in front of Century’s Bliss Theatre, which had its entrance on Greenpoint Avenue and still exists as a Jehovah’s Witnesses church. Whenever services or other meetings are held, capacity crowds of 2,000 bring considerable business to stores and fast-food restaurants in the area. Lines extend out onto the sidewalks at MacDonald’s and Wendy’s.

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Jerome Weiss

@Moishe…you may not be aware but the original Madison Square Garden bowl was located at 48th and northern. ..it hosted many great championship fights but was torn down during the war.. just another piece of nostalgia..Happy Holidays

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u say tomaydo I say tomato

hate to be a downer but does anyone really care? we aint talking about a meeting place of the allied commanders during WWII. It s a place where people beat the hell out of each other and gave each other even lower IQs than they had. Good riddance. Wendys is an improvement.

Besided they put that “tombstone” outside of it as a reminder, do we need a name on a pole too?

Boxing enthusiasts? LOL! Its UFC now…. never heard anyone in the past 20 years talk about boxing since the human prune bit holyfields ear off.

Man, I love that Baconator at Wendy, theres a sandwich!

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JOR

Why no mention of the Rolller Derby matches and professional wrestling events that brought so much excitement to the Sunnyside Gardens Arena?

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moishe

Its nice to see a piece of history honored…many great Jewish fighters displayed there skills at this forum…..”Eddie Smalls”…..Nat Cohn….while I must admit that I am no boxing fan……nostalgia holds a soft spot in my heart. Did Marciano ever fight there?

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Barbara Braun Cronin

I love this picture…. brings back lots of memories.. I grew u on 42nd Street right off Queens Blvd ( North Side)…1938–1963…became sort of a boxing fan at a very young age…went up to the Garden almost every day they were filming Mr. Universe.. to see who I could catch a glimpse of ..glad they are paying tribute to this Sunnyside Landmark .. and there are quite a few……..

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