Rio Tinto Kennecott (Kennecott) once employed two legendary boxers, heavy weight brawler Lamar Freeman Clark (Deseret News [DN] 8 November 2006) and middleweight champion and hall of famer, Lawrence Gene Fullmer (IBHF, 2002). Both fighters were managed by Marv Jenson of West Jordan (Salt Lake Tribune [SLT] 22 April 1960:45).
Lamar Freeman Clark
Record Holder for 44 Consecutive Knockouts
Record Holder for 6 Knockouts in One Night
Clark was born in Cedar City, Utah to Ernest Thomas Clark and Nora Davis on December 1, 1933. A natural athlete, he played basketball, baseball, and football during high school and he played fullback at the College of Southern Utah where he received a football scholarship. During the Korean Conflict (1950 – 1953) Clark served in the Army (DN 8 November 2006). Following his boxing career, Clark hired on at Kennecott as a railroad track gang foreman.
His boxing career began in 1956 (BoxRec 2021) and in that same year he won his weight class at the first annual Golden Gloves Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. Clark was one of eight Utahns entered in the competition. He won his fight in a decision (judges’ rulings) over Eldon Poulson of Las Vegas. Following the event, Clark and two others traveled to Chicago, Illinois to represent the Intermountain region at the National Golden Gloves tournament (Deseret News and Salt Lake Telegram [DNSLT], 27 February 1956:20; SLT 26 February 1956:32) where he made it to the quarter finals (BoxRec 2021; SLT 29 February 1956:26). The following year at the second annual Golden Gloves Tournament in Las Vegas he won a decision over Truman Lukenbach of Salt Lake City to capture the heavyweight division (BoxRec 2021; SLT 8 February 1957:48; DNSLT 7 February 1957:48). In 1958, Associated Press reported Clark’s amateur record as 25 wins and 2 losses (BoxRec 2021).
Clark turned professional in 1958 and won his first professional fight over John Hicks by decision. He won his next fight with Willard Whittaker by knockout in the second round. This fight marked the beginning of a knockout spree that lasted two years and culminated in a record setting 44 consecutive knockouts, a record that is still unbroken today (BoxRec 2021; Guinness 2022).
On November 11, 1958, Clark caused an uproar during the preliminary bouts ahead of the Gene Fullmer and Joe Miceli fight when he fought three opponents. Clark was scheduled for one fight, a bout with Ken Howard, who he eliminated 1:35 into the first round. Following this fight, he then took on Dick Tanner, whose opponent Maurice Leniece, was a no-show. This fight was longer, with Tanner making it through two rounds, but failing to come out of his corner for the third, a technical knockout for Clark. After the Tanner match Leniece made an appearance, ready to fight. Clark accepted his challenge against Marv Jenson’s (Clark’s manager) wishes. During the first round Leniece’s mouthpiece flew into the crowd (which was thrown back), he was knocked to the canvas twice, and he was counted out at 2:11 of the first round (SLT 11 November 1958:18). Clark’s run of knockouts almost came to an end eighteen days later when Hal Crump knocked Clark down twice in the first round, both for eight counts. Unfortunately for Crump, Clark punched him with a hard right and Crump didn’t make it past the second round (BoxRec 2021).
On the evening of December 2, 1958, Clark brought his total of consecutive knockouts to twenty-six by knocking out six opponents at a charity event held at the Bingham High School in Copperton, Utah. Clark was disappointed when a seventh opponent decided that he would try Clark another night (SLT 2 December 1958:15). Facing six opponents in one night and knocking each one of them out is a record that still stands (Guinness 2022)
Later in the month, in an event that foreshadowed the movie Rocky 3, Clark fought Eric “The Great” Forsland, a former boxer and a professional wrestler who considered himself capable of taking out Clark. In less than two minutes, Forsland found himself entangled upside down in the ropes where he was counted out at 1:31 of the first round. Forsland was knockout number thirty for Clark (BoxRec 2021; Kansas City Star [KCS] 27 December 1958:8).
On April 4, 1959, Clark fought Tony Burton, the only fighter so far who had a winning record, 10-2-1 (Ten wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw). Burton was knocked out in the fourth round. Interestingly Burton later went on to an acting career where he played a boxing trainer in the Rocky films (BoxRec 2021; British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC] 26 February 2016).
Clark’s knockout spree came to an end on April 8, 1960, when he was pitted against Bartolo Soni who had a record of 12-2-1 (BoxRec 2021). This fight was a brawl from the start with Soni charging across the ring at the first bell and the action escalated from there. By the ninth round Clark was leading Soni by points being seven rounds ahead and only had to weather the last two rounds, but Soni knocked him to the canvas 2:02 minutes into the ninth round. This fight ended in controversy; some said Clark received a short count, some said he was on his feet ready to fight. Others thought it was a technical knockout with the referee stopping the fight and leading Clark to his corner. Officials originally ruled the fight a knockout and it was later changed to a technical knockout. It was agreed by all that Clark was hurt. Clark’s stable mate, Gene Fullmer, thought the fight was called a little early and perhaps Clark could have recovered if he a had a few more seconds in the ring (DNSLT 9 April 1960:3-4).
On June 29, 1960, Clark again lost by a technical knockout, this time by Pete Rademacher, whose record was 6-3-1. It was a brutal contest, with Clark being knocked down twice in the first round but he held on until the tenth round when the referee stopped the fight. Radmacher said he asked the referee to stop the fight five times, before the referee finally stopped it (DN 30 June 1960:51, 53; Macon News [MN] 30 June 1960:12). Clark achieved one more knockout victory before his last bout that occurred on the evening of April 19, 1961, in Louisville, Kentucky (BoxRec 2021).
In retrospect, Clark’s career more often resembled a carnival event than it did a boxing career. Why did Clark take on all comers, anytime, anyplace, and on several occasions, multiple opponents? One reporter speculated that Clark “likes to scrap, works at it, thrives on knockouts, and needs the money.” The need for money is most likely associated with the tragic burning of the Cedar City family home in 1957. Clark’s father was killed in the fire and his mother was severely burned (Terre Haute Tribune [THT] 26 December 1958:12]. The fire left Clark’s mother without support and injures that required extensive medical treatment and money.
Following his boxing career, Clark hired on at Kennecott as a railroad track gang foreman. Clark ran one of several gangs that operated in the pit region, either in the pit, at the railroad yards, or on the waste dumps. Clark’s gang was assigned the waste dumps, but they would occasionally make trips to other areas of the pit. The job entailed the maintenance and repair of rail lines that ran throughout Kennecott. Work could be as simple as replacing a few ties, or more technical such as moving track to accommodate the ever-shifting Kennecott landscape, or laying new track following a destructive train wreck, a landslide, or when a new level was added (Grant Fahrni Jr. personal communication). Clark retired from Kennecott in 1984 (Deseret News [DN] obituary. 5 November 2006). Other former boxers who were also track gang foremen at Kennecott were the Doyle brothers, Jimmy and Larry and Nathan Ish (Grant Fahrni Jr. personal communication).
Clark passed away on November 5, 2006, a beloved father, husband, and grandfather. He was 72 years old (DN 8 November 2006).