An interesting piece.. not necessarily about FMA but about Boxing and Filipino’s in Hawaii
Filipinos in Hawaii before Legalization
Filipinos also fought in Hawaii prior to legalization. Under Section 320 of the US Code, prizefighting was illegal in the Territory of Hawaii until 1929. In practice, however, this portion of the Federal code was widely ignored. For example, in October 1915 the Judge Advocate General of the Army ruled that soldiers could box in garrison provided that there were no admission charges, no challenges from the ring, no decisions announced at the conclusion of fights, and no obvious gambling. At Schofield Barracks, early promoters of military boxing included Tommy Marlowe and Lieutenant Barnard of the 5th US Cavalry, and Sergeant John Stone of the Ordnance Department. At Fort DeRussey, promoters included Sergeant Anthony Biddle of the 17th US Cavalry. The Navy took a similar view, and as result, throughout the 1920s the 14th Naval District Submarine Division held monthly smokers at Pearl Harbor.
As in Manila, the military fights were not always open to civilian spectators, and due to restrictions against soldiers fighting civilians, the fighters were almost entirely military. This of course annoyed civilian boxing fans, and as a result, from 1915 to 1929, there was also bootleg boxing in Hawaii.
The legal fiction used to circumvent the law was that the fights were not prizefights, but instead 3 or 4-round exhibitions held solely for the amusement of members of private clubs. As the Honolulu Advertiser explained the practice in July 1927, “’Membership cards’ were sold on the night of the fight in buildings across the street.” Examples of clubs that organized bootleg fights included Honolulu’s Kewalo Athletic Club and International Athletic Association, and Hilo’s National Athletic Club. The YMCA also offered boxing in some of its youth programs, saying, “Wholesome athletics act as mental tonic in the formation of a boy’s character.”
The reason the law could be flaunted was a case in December 1915 in which US Attorney Jefferson McCarn had filed charges against a promoter and some boxers, and the defense counsel turned out to be the former Honolulu district attorney Robert W. Breckons. Meanwhile, witnesses for the defense included the sitting US Circuit Judge T.B. Stuart. Said the jurist, who admitted sitting in the twelfth row of seats:
I saw these two men engage in sparring on the stage. I think it was three rounds – one minute each and half a minute between. Yes, they had gloves on. Well, they made several demonstrations; I would not call it striking. They would spar and tap each other, just like that… They would, of course, touch each other, care being used not to hurt each other. Following this slap in the face, the US Attorney refused to try future cases, and so it wasn’t until 1927 that anyone else was indicted, let alone convicted, on charges of promoting prizefighting in Hawaii. (And even then the charges owed more to pressure from women’s temperance leagues than any governmental desire to prosecute boxers or promoters.) Like the communities from which they recruited, Hawaiian bootleg fight clubs were racially segregated. The one that attracted the most Filipinos was Honolulu’s Rizal Athletic Club. The Rizal club held its first smoker in July 1922, and a standard card of this era featured Kid Parco fighting Al “Alky” Dawson or Patsy Fernandez during the main event or Kid Carpenterio during the semi-main. Other Filipinos who fought in Hawaii prior to legalization included Battling Bolo, Young Malicio, Clever Feder, Pedro Suerta, Moniz, Santiago, and Cabayon.
Excepting small gate receipts, the only money to be made through boxing in Hawaii was through side betting. This was unsatisfactory to Filipinos, partly because the working-class fighters wanted to be paid for their pains, and mostly because people from all walks of life wanted to see fights featuring the Filipino pugilists passing through Honolulu on their way to and from San Francisco. As a result, in 1926 the “pugilistic propensity of the Filipino population of Hawaii” was a stated motivation for Governor Wallace Farrington’s testimony to Congress urging the legalization of prizefighting in Hawaii. Said the governor:
At the present time a large and growing Filipino population has very little amusement, and it is a real problem to keep them out of trouble. Their interest in boxing is not surpassed by their interest in any other sport. At every show given, there have been thousands of Filipinos denied admission because the shows were not open to the general public. Boxing will bring them into closer relations with the other races and tend to make better citizens out of them. In the meantime, Filipino fighters such as Carpenterio tried earning money by participating in exhibition bouts with wrestlers and judoka. For example, on May 12, 1923, he met judoka S. Takahashi during a mixed match. “Carpenterio boxed and the professor used jiu jitsu,” said the Advertiser. “The first two-minute round was a draw. Thirty seconds after the second round started Carpenterio was down with an ankle hold and the stuff was off.”