Sportland Boxing Ring

In the 1920s, boxing was becoming a favorite pastime popularized by World War I veterans. The National Boxing Association was formed in 1921, followed in 1922 by the publication of the boxing magazine The Ring. Capitalizing on the rising public interest, Berwyn Heights resident John O. Waters (1866-1946) organized the Sportland Heights Athletic Club in 1922 to sponsor boxing matches in the town. Waters built an open air 4,000 seat arena on his property that was known as Sportland since the 19th century. He and his wife Maria (1868-1943) bought the house and farm in 1915.

In 1924, a new Prince George’s County law required permits for each boxing match. In the same year, the newly formed Berwyn Heights Board of Commissioners, as one of its first acts, adopted Ordinance No. 1 requiring licenses for any exhibition, show, or carnival for which an admission was charged. The popular matches were held during the summers of 1922-1925, drawing large crowds. Community objections and conflicts with town and county commissions led to the closing of the ring in 1926.

For more information see the BHHC Sportland Boxing Ring Flyer

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