by Frank Hyde
April 9, 1946
Part 4 of 4
Clark Pushed Too Fast, Faded From Pro Scene
Following his victory over DuPree, Carpentier tried to get Clark to forget the amateurs and stay in France under the Orchid Man's banner. However, the Jamestown boy's mother had cabled him to return and then there was the call of the Olympics.
The 1936 team that headed for Berlin to participate amid the phoney, goosestepping grandeur of the Hitler regime consisted of Clark, Art Oliver of St. Louis, Carl Vinciquerra of Omaha, Howell King of Detroit, Andy Scrivani of Chicago, and Louis Laurie, also a Chicago boy.
As the team departed, the St. Louis Globe Dispatch said: "Our team has no Joe Louis, but it does have a Jimmy Clark, no doubt the outstanding amateur middleweight in the world today."
How Clark battered his way through to the Olympic finals, only to lose to Henry Chimuluski of Poland in a decision so raw the American Olympic boxing team threatened to withdraw, is now history.
American boxing writers wrote reams about the middleweight finals, which Clark appeared to have won hands down, only to see the judges wave to the Polish champ. Many of those clippings now adorn Clark's scrapbooks as solid proof that things were not as they should be in the German governed championships.
The Professionals Call
Angered over this and two other bad decisions, Coach Davis and trainer Johnny Behr of the American Olympic squad cancelled a tour of Europe and returned to America. No sooner had Clark set foot on his home shores then offers to turn pro rolled in by the hundreds.
Eventually he yielded and fought his first pro battle against Pauley Mahoney at Buffalo. He gave away 10 pounds but won by a kayo in the third.
Jack Johnson was a spectator that night and afterwards he and Clark became warm friends, a friendship that still endures.
Things moved fast from then on for the Jamestown Negro. Too fast, in fact, for he was pushed steadily and swiftly toward the top to eventually fight men after six months or so experience he should not have been fighting for three years.
One of them was Tony zale, now middleweight champion of the world.
Clark probably reached the heights the night he fought Zale, stopping the champ-to-be in the first round.
Then came such boys as Billy Soose, Ken Overlin, the latter to win the middleweight crown, Popeye Woods and Johnny "Bandit" Romero.
Pushed Too Fast
These were hard bitten ring veterans with hundreds of fights under their belts. There was only one reason Clark was in there with them after only a comparatively few fights - greed for gold on the part of the men at the helm.
Zale stopped the Jamestown Negro in a return engagement and he lost to the others, finally hanging up the mitts after 47 pro fights.
Only about a year ago Pittsburgh promoters induced him to get into the squared circle again. Flashing his old time punching power, Jimmy stopped Herman Poper, also a Negro, in the third round at Pittsburgh.
"Gee, Jim," a friend remarked after the fight. "Looks like you're on the way back again."
"Nope, you are wrong," came the blunt answer. "I'm through as of tonight. I'll get nowhere, so why stay in there?"
Jimmy Clark kept his word. Today he lives quietly with his sister and mother at 1115 Washington Street, but still retains his interest in boxing, especially around the local Boys Club. "I'd like for the youngsters to do as I say and not do as I did," he remarked to this writer after the recent Jamestown-Buffalo meet.
Memories of record after record his iron fists rolled into the books remain, and what memories - 571 victories, 21 losses as an amateur - that ladies and gents, is a pretty fair batting average in any man's league.
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.
We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.