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Smokin’ Joe, Lights Out Toney, Memorial Day Fly Over

Because the ‘Cal’s numbers went through the roof this year (read previous blog), I didn’t get home from Culver City until midnight last Saturday. Thus, I just didn’t have the energy to get up early and drive back to the westside of town for the first day of action at the latest Memorial Day festivities at Muscle Beach.
Normally I just go to the event on Monday, but with the addition of the “Rumble in Venice”, 12 bouts of amateur boxing, held for the first time at world famous Venice Beach venue, I was giving the early trip strong consideration. The fights featured boxers from the Venice Boys and Girls Club, Venice High School, UCLA and USC and four bouts between military personnel. The event, which was sponsored by Abbas Moussauwi’s Pro Fight Nutrition, concluded with some good ‘ol female boxing.

What could have been the featured fight not only of the weekend, though, but of the year–or the decade, actually–was a near match between Muscle Beach promoter Smokin’ Joe Wheatley and James “Lights Out” Toney. Yes, THAT James Toney. Seems like Toney thought that it was a bunch of baloney that Wheatley hired Bill Grant, not Lights Out, to be the ring announcer. And, when he told Smokin’ Joe how he felt about the slight, Wheatley showed Toney what lights out might look like from an opposing view.
Okay, am just joshin; Toney, who has held several World Championship belts in different divisions, just stopped by to see the action, which drew a huge crowd. Of course, Joe knew I’d smack him upside the top of his head if he DIDN’T get a snapshot of him and the man who actually portrayed Smokin’ Joe Frazier in the flick, “Ali.” And, Kent Kuehnn told me Grant did a fine job as the ring announcer, as I knew he would.
Another reason I decided on the Monday trip–Isaac “Lifter” Hinds, who had been on a nationwide tour in previous weeks covering events for and the NPC News, flew in from Las Vegas where he shot the UFC bouts at the MDM Grand the night before. Previously, Hinds was in South Carolina for the Junior USA, in the Big Apple for the New York Pro and in Pittsburgh for the annual Jim Manion NPC show that includes a Pro Figure division. I thought, with Ron “Yogi” Avidan in the house as well, “The Experts” could get some great video from the state’s second largest tourist attraction. I was wrong, since Yogi was more interested in getting several pieces of pizza before shooting the show for But, at least I got some great interviews from the event, so look for it on our website.
For the second year in a row, March Air Force base, out of Riverside, California, supported the Muscle Beach International Classic with another spectacular C-17A Globemaster III fly over. Additionally, IRON MAN’s talented Art Director, Terry Bratcher, was on hand to present Jon Jon Park with the Muscle Beach Hall of Fame award in honor of Jon Jon’s late father, Reg, who passed away last November.
Congrats to Overall bodyuilding champions James Scott and Dawn Michael Thomas, and Figure champ Laura Bailey. Unfortunately, it rained like cats and dogs on Friday, and moisture was still in the air as the Sunday event opened to unsually chilly weather. Both Joe and I agree that the lack of usual warm climate contributed to a drop in the usual number of contestants in the show (check out the results on the site) but, overall, even Mother Nature couldn’t put a damper on this one.

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