Tuesday, September 22, 2009

History of the Site of Ali/Liston Fight --- An Overview

Many sports fans either remember or heard of the Muhammad Ali/Sonny Liston boxing match in which Ali scored a knockout with the infamous “Phantom Punch”. That fight took place on may 25, 1965 at what was then known as the Central Maine Youth Center (CMYC) in my hometown of Lewiston, Maine. My dad recounts the story of a buddy of his paying $100 a seat to see the fight. Dad's friend said he was so excited to see the match in which my dad replied that the fight was already over.

Many other events have happened during the winter months on that site in Lewiston that has great significance for the sports fans of our area. I will attempt to give an overview of some events. My main source of information comes from an article written for our local newspaper the Sun Journal written by Mr. David A.Sargent, a freelance writer from Auburn, Maine.

The first arena at the site, Saint Dominic's Arena (St. Dom's for short), commenced building in the late 1940's and was completed in 1951, as an ice plant was installed ushering indoor hockey to Lewiston. A great place to meet for the rabid hockey fans of the area. The arena was financed in part by Boston Celtics founder and Boston Garden manager Walter Brown. Local club teams and high school hockey filled the arena with powerhouse St. Dom's High School leading the way, as well as Lewiston High School.

In the mid – 1950's a portable hardwood floor was added and hosted several events, including Boston Celtics exhibition games. The floor was reported to have been the world's largest at that time by roughly 100 square feet. Unfortunately, fire totaled the building in November of 1956.

A second building was erected and finished in 1958 and was dedicated on January 17, 1959. This arena was named the Central Maine Youth Center (CMYC). Again, the main attraction was hockey although basketball was also played there. Also in later years, there were concerts, trade shows and boxing cards held there.

Some of the hockey teams that played there were the L-A Twins (Lewiston – Auburn) in the 1960's and from 1973 to 1977 the Maine Nordiques, the main minor league affiliate for the World Hockey League's Quebec Nordiques. In fact, if you saw the movie Slap Shot, at least one former Nordiques member, Guido Tenisi, was in the movie as the player with the two gorgeous blond babes at his side.

Today, with much refurbishment, the arena called the Androscoggin Bank Colisee' is the home of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's (QMJHL) Lewiston Maineiacs. Of course, high school hockey is still a big draw with powerhouses St. Dom's and Lewiston leading the way as well as other local teams and youth hockey as the Lions' Tournament is held at the Colisee' annually.

I hope that I have given you a taste of a small part of the sports history of the city I call home, Lewiston, Maine. If you have something to share about your area sports, feel free to comment or email me. I would be more than happy to share your experiences.

Send email to dlafrance2@207me.com

No comments:

Post a Comment