The following story is an excerpt from a script provided by Grant Stevenson. Mr Stevenson was the event organiser of the 2004 Wellington Town Hall centennial celebration. This script was written by Dave Armstrong and presented at the centennial event by Miranda Harcourt and Franky Stevens.
Boxing’s Town Hall heyday was between 1940 to 1970. Just pay your five shillings and enjoy “twelve three-minute rounds of scientific boxing”.
In 1967 the only Commonwealth Title to be won in New Zealand was won by the Tongan-born Kiwi, Manny Santos, who beat Bunny Grant at the Town Hall in front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd.
During the Great Depression, unemployment boomed. In Wellington there wasn’t a lot to celebrate.
A cheap way of cheering up the population would be to have a daytime community sing. All you needed was an organ or a brass band. These singalongs were especially popular during the festive season, and a few days before Christmas, a packed Town Hall would reverberate with the sound of carols.
Not that it was all bad during the depression. Sure, times were tough, but you could always go the wrestling at the Wellington Town Hall.
That was the famous cry from the radio commentator as wrestling mania gripped the country in the 1930s. New Zealand’s Lofty Blomfield would take on and beat the best in the world including Canadian world champion Earl McCready.
Lofty used his famous Octopus Clamp to stun opponents into submission. Though the occasional bout of fisticuffs could break out between the wrestlers outside the ring, and the referee would have to go after them, break it up, and bring them back.