by Frank Hyde
April 8, 1946
Part 3 of 4
Jimmy Clark Knocked Out French Pro Champ After Winning Pre-Olympics
Came Home to Desert Amateurs; Once Stopped Tony Zale
Even an automobile wreck couldn't stop Jimmy Clark as he rolled into the national tournament at St. Louis.
The car in which Jim and several other boxers was riding to the meet, sideswiped a truck. The local Negro climbed out with a wrenched back and despite steady treatments still had it when he slid into the ring to face Joe Matthewson of Oakland, who later became a tough trial horse in the heavyweight division.
Clark rocked him into position then added the sleep powders, all in the first round. Tiger Brown, who had fought Clark in Jamestown under the name Wahoo Brown was next and he followed that Matthewson boy right out of the tournament.
"Brown was a clown," Clark told us, grinning at his poetical observation. "He'd muss your hair, whisper sweetheart in your ear and stick his thumb in your eye. I bopped him out though, and went on to meet Lawrence Rego, a Hawaiian boy, in the quarter finals."
Clark thumbed through a stack of scrapbook as long as your arm and came up with the story of Rego, who went back to the Islands, sadder but smarter with a one-round kayo chalked against him.
That meant George Stern, out of Ft. Benning, Ga.
Clark was the first Negro Stern had ever fought and being a southern boy he couldn't resist the temptation to take a verbal jab at the Jimtowner as they were getting instructions in mid-ring.
"He called me a bad name so I just knocked him stiff in the second round after closing his eye in the first. See," Jim said simply stabbing a forefinger at a yellowing story in his scrapbook. We looked and saw.
They had a rugged boy from Oklahoma in there for the finals. His name was Sweeney Byers and he was destined to make a couple of thrilling stands against Freddie Steele after the Seattle Slayer won the world's pro middleweight title.
It is claimed the habitues of Slug Bug row in Missouri's most famous city are still stuffing their heads after watching this national final between two choice representatives of two races.
Clark hit the canvas three times in the first round and once in the second before he found the range. Once he did Old Man Byers' boy was up and down like a stock quotation before he finally settled in blissful slumber midway through the last heat.
Both looked like they had chased a ghost through a keg of nails when it was over, but "James Clark, Jamestown, New York, national middleweight champion" was inscribed in the record books.
So that brings us back to where we started - the sun splashed ring in Paris where Jimmy Clark pounded Pluto Sancassianni to a hamburger tempo and won the world's title.
Clark laughed suddenly as he told me his story... You know," he chuckled, "there's quite a story back of those Pre-Olympics that can be told now. Do you remember a guy named Georges DuPree, a professional middleweight champion of France and how he was knocked out by an unknown fighter, thus ending his career?"
We remember DuPree, how he was being brought along by Georges Carpentier, the old Orchid man, who had been flattened by our Jack Dempsey in the famed Battle of the Century many years before. Carpentier had tagged DuPree as the "greatest puncher ever known anywhere." DuPree appeared to be living up to that name, for he had flattened everything dished up to him.
Sure, we remembered DuPree and how an unknown by the name of Joe Brown, or something like that, had battered him into oblivion.
"But what about it?" we asked.
Jim leaned across and thrust out his hand. "Meet Joe Brown," he roared with laughter.
"Here's how it came about," he went on. I knocked out both Francis Tritz and Sammy Binazzi, the Italian representative, and decisioned Sancassianni in the finals. After the tournament, Georges Carpentier came around and offered me a crack at DuPree. I didn't know DuPree and didn't know it was a professional fight until the night of the scrap and they announced it as for 10 rounds. It was too late then, so we battled. I stopped him in the fifth."