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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Boxing matches at the Georgia Theater
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Roger Allen

    In the April 8, 1937, issue of the Bulloch Herald, it was announced that on the upcoming Thursday, a pair of boxing matches would be held at the Georgia Theater, which is now the Averitt Center for the Arts, in downtown Statesboro.
    The evening's entertainment would begin with the regular Thursday movie, that week's selection being Dorothy Lamour in "Jungle Princess," starting at 7 p.m.
    After the movie, for that evening only, there would take place what may have been Statesboro's first-ever public pugilistic performances. The event would feature two boxing bouts.
    In the first, a bantamweight class (112–119 pounds) fight of three two-minute rounds was to take place between “Tiger” Johnny Smith from Statesboro and Southeastern-region amateur boxing champion Frankie Weil of Savannah.
    Weil was the reigning flyweight class (105–112 pounds) champion in the Savannah Boxing League and fought for the Union Bag Athletic Association. Smith was a featherweight class (119–126 pounds) boxer, and the fight was said to be evenly matched.
    The Union Bag Athletic Association was a social club made up of Union Camp employees in Savannah. The men competed in area baseball, bowling and boxing leagues and had their own facility on Union Camp property.
    Following the Smith-Weil match was the main event, a heavier weight contest between local boxing star “Battling” Russell Hall of Statesboro and “Captain” Melvin Weil of Savannah, also consisting of three two-minute rounds.
    Also, the Bulloch Herald newspaper article mentioned a special battle royale between the “Black Bomber” and a number of unnamed challengers, with the winner being the last man standing in the ring.
    This fight was the brainchild of William C. Macon, the man in charge of publicity for the Georgia Theater and the son of owner and manager Hal Macon Sr.
    Tickets to this featured festival of fisticuffs were available to purchase at several locations, including Franklin's Drugstore, the City Drugstore, the College Pharmacy and the Varsity Shop.
    As no mention was made in the following newspapers about the winners of the matches, perhaps the fighting Weils of Savannah triumphed over their local opponents.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. He provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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