Saturday, April 10, 2021
Happy World Stadium - Music, Wrestling, Boxing, Globetrotters, Skating by Stephen Han
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Happy World, New World and Great World Amusement Parks were the venues where the working folks visited to unwind from the stress at work. The defunct Happy World was once the biggest arena in South East Asia. In the 50s and 60s it hosted a variety of entertainment for Singaporeans.
Beside the usual, dancing at the Happy Cabaret, Malay ronggeng at the gazebos outside the shops and some food stalls, where music was concerned, it was the venue where the original Platters sang.
Johnnie Ray also sang here with Lola Dee as his opening act. I was fortunate to see a very young Cliff Richard performing with the Shadows minus Tony Meehan who was replaced by Brian Bennett.
A good friend related how he watched Abbe Lane, sultry singer from South America and her husband Xavier Cugat performed with their orchestra in full splendour in the huge stadium. Mr. Cugat carried a chihuahua [dog] as he lead the band. It was so small he could carry it in his coat pocket.
The audience were thrilled. with the orchestra's big sound. At that time the big bands with saxophone, trombones, trumpets and a double-bass was common. No keyboards but a grand piano, so grand that it stood majestically in black fronting the stage.
My father took me to watch the “Holiday On Ice”, beautiful skaters gliding on ice in supreme command of the jeweled floor. I was very young still and was embraced by the calm and cool of an entertaining team of wondrous snow-folks.
Then the thrilling and hilarious Harlem Globetrotters, tall African Americans dwarfing their 'rivals' on the basketball court. Most were seven-footers and for drama, one tall player even carried his five feet rival and nearly threw him into the net. It was a hilarious show mixed with thrills and spills by these superb sportsmen from the USA. They were led by their white manager, Abe Saperstein.
From IPOH ECHO 1st Nov 2019
Boxing And wrestling matches were regularly held in the Happy World Stadium. Remember Wong Buck Lee, Leow Kwang Seng, Bosca Boa and the notorious King Kong, whose main rivals were Dara Singh and Lee Leong Fu [image above].
I used to watch boxing too and noted the great rivalry between Lim Kee Chan and Sonny Chia. There were international boxers like Boy Brooks and the three Sand Brothers from Australia.
The martial art schools like Karate and Tai Kwan Do held their tests and gradings there too. Happy World which was later named Gay World had served its purpose as more venues around Singapore were built to host sporting and entertainment events.
Sadly the stadium and its surrounding buildings were demolished. A field stands today, our reminder of an important venue that once stood tall in entertainment.
Thanks so much Stephen.
at the Happy World Stadium
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