Roseland Ballroom’s
Last Boxing Match

February 13, 2014 | Amy K. Nelson

“Put some Brooklyn on him!” was one of the first things I heard once the fights started Wednesday night at the Roseland Ballroom, a venue more famous for its music but one which has hosted its share of boxing matches over the years.

The Roseland, originally opened in 1919 and at its current location at 52nd Street since 1956, is closing in April. Longtime New York City boxing promoter Lou DiBella wanted to make sure he was the last one who staged a fight here. Lady Gaga gets the honor of performing the final shows here, but DiBella got his wish and named the card “The Last Dance,” with nine bouts made up of mostly local fighters.

“Club fighting, local fighting is what boxing is built on,” said DiBella, who first came to the Roseland in the ’60s to watch his parents ballroom dance. “And this is sort of the classic room for that.”

Boxing always tends to attract a diverse crowd, with the room nearly sold out even though the boxers on the card were not close to household names. The bouts were mixed, with one of the best fights between two women.

Not that is seemed to matter that much. Celebrities like Rosie Perez, rapper Melle Mel and DJ Eric B (donning a custom-made jacket with “Eric B” on it), and HBO boxing commentator Harold Lederman were all ringside while 50 Cent sat atop the rafters, there as one of the co-promoters of the bout.

I would have asked him about the Roseland closing, or his small stable of young boxers he’s got under his SMS promotions company, but after I got off a few shots of him one of his guys told me to back off. It was about the ballroom anyway, so I went back downstairs and roamed with the locals until it was time to go.

(Photos: Amy K. Nelson/ANIMALNewYork)