There’s a new monument in front of the Wendy’s in Sunnyside (GMAP) that’s attracting quite a bit of attention from passersby. The plaque is a nod to the Sunnyside Garden Arena, a boxing venue that stood on the site from 1945 to 1977.
Sunnyside Garden hosted professional and amateur fighters, and was the neighborhood’s biggest attraction in the heyday of New York boxing. According to the Sunnyside Post, big names like Gerry Cooney, Emile Griffith, and Jose Torres fought there early on in their careers. Besides boxing, the classic venue was home to other events like proms, presidential campaign rallies, roller derby, wrestling, and basketball.
On October 6, the monument was unveiled to a crowd of over 100 people. Former boxers who had fought at Sunnyside Garden were there, along with local politicians, to give speeches and ring the original bell that had been preserved from the arena. The event was put on by Ring 8, an organization that helps out veteran boxers, and the plaque was sponsored by John Edebohls, who grew up in Sunnyside.
The neighborhood Wendy’s hasn’t seen this much action since… well, since it was a boxing arena. Things will never be the way they were in the old days (and that’s probably a good thing, considering all the unofficial fights that reportedly used to break out in and around the club), but now we can get our Frostys and fries with a side of history.