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Babe Sordi and Madera’s Bucket of Blood

Photo courtesy of Roy Sordi Jr.

Babe Sordi’s grandson, Kurt Gleason, is seen here wearing his grandfather’s boxing robe, which he wore when he was boxing at the Bucket of Blood from 1931 to 1935.


Dominic Sordi Jr. was a gentleman; I was always impressed by his quiet demeanor. Of course, I didn’t know him in the old days when he was a star at the “Bucket of Blood” near the southwest corner of Avenue 13 ½ and Road 23 1/2.

The “Bucket of Blood” is now a house, but it was once a dance hall and moonshine distillery. Its history is as captivating as that of any structure in Madera. 

It was built by the Sordi brothers, Dominic and Abramo, as a place for folks to have a little fun during prohibition. The Sordi brothers had immigrated to Madera from Italy at the turn of the 20th century and began building houses in Southeast Madera. Sometime during Prohibition, they were hit with the brainstorm of building a dance hall with a moonshine still on Avenue 13 1/2. The Sordi Dance Hall was a success right from the start. It was always filled on Saturday nights as revelers enjoyed dancing, booze, and some entertainment provided by Abramo. The dexterous Italian more than once got up on a table, balancing a full glass of wine on his head and danced without spilling a drop. Then, as the story goes, some young Portuguese fellows from Chowchilla started attending the dances looking for female dancing partners. The Italian men took umbrage at this invasion, and fists began to fly. Soon the place was no longer called Sordi’s Dance Hall; it became known as “the Bucket of Blood.” 


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