The career of Lamar “Kid Fire” Parks and how it ended, carries with it, one big, ‘what if?’ Parks, who had a standout amateur career and looked for all the world like not only a future world champion but perhaps a two or even three weight division champion, was forced to retire at the young age of 23. Why? It’s listed that Parks tested positive for HIV, this ruining his fight with Gerald McClellan. But the now 53 year old says he will reveal all in his forthcoming autobiography.
Here, Parks, who finished, before he really got going, with a 27-1(21) pro record, kindly speaks with Eastside Boxing.
Q: What was your amateur record, because you really did have a fine career there before going pro?
Lamar Parks: “Let me see, I was pretty good! I wanna say I had, let’s see, I wanna say 178 fights, with 13 losses, but I don’t feel I’ve ever been beaten, there was a lot of controversy. I feel I won every one of ’em.”
Q: Going back, looking at your career and your talent and promise, it did look as though you would win perhaps multiple world titles, at different weights. What would you say was your overall best asset in the ring?
L.P: “Well, I had a lot, but the biggest thing was, I didn’t take no damage. At number-two, I’d say my power. Or my speed. It’s hard to say, but I didn’t take damage.”
Q: Some people have written that you were the most talented middleweight of the ’90s. And of course, that’s saying something, as there were greats like Roy Jones, Gerald McClellan and James Toney out there!
L.P: “Oh, me and Roy Jones, we sparred countless rounds. Countless rounds. When me and Roy first linked up, was when Sugar Ray [Leonard] flew us in to fight each other, to see who would make the team. We both ended up making the team. We’re talking, let’s see, ’84, ’87, maybe.”
Q: You turned pro at a young age?
L.P: “I was 18.”
Q: And as things turned out, you got just one shot at a world title in your career, against Reggie Johnson. You were just 22, and that was a close fight (Johnson winning a 12 round UD in his hometown).
L.P: “He didn’t beat me. But if you want to consider, you have to take the champion’s title. I guess I didn’t do that. But at the same time, I felt at the time that any man who went the distance with me, that was a loss. My job is to get them outta there. That was my job.”
Q: You touched on something there, a thing that so many people seem to say today and that’s how the challenger has to really beat the champion. Is that right, or should it just be a case of whoever deserved the win should get the win? Is there too much emphasis on the challenger having to go the extra mile to beat the champion?
L.P: “Right, I feel the same way. The commentators had me winning the [Johnson] fight….
Q: Yeah, Sean O’Grady had you winning…..
L.P: “Right. You have to realise, when you score a fight, it has to be scored on who the aggressor is, on ring generalship. And on defence. But I didn’t expect him to run so much that night. I just spoke with Reggie, and I told him I need a rematch (laughs). He said, ‘Rematch? S**t, I didn’t want to fight you the first time!’ And do you know, I turned down a $million to fight Roy [Jones] to fight Reggie? That’s on my son, I wouldn’t lie. Me and Roy are friends and I knew that fight between us would be like a Sugar Ray Leonard-Marvin Hagler fight – I know it was a big-money fight.”
Q: You felt you and Roy would fight down the road, that it was just a matter of time? Were you being patient as far as waiting for that fight?
L.P: “Yeah, I was being very patient, ‘cos my goal was [to earn] $300 million. That was my goal. Mike Tyson made it, Evander Holyfield made it. And I felt like I was better or just as good as both of ’em. You got to realise, none of the middleweights wanted to fight me. Bernard Hopkins was my mandatory for my NABF belt. But when I say none of ’em wanted to fight me, you can’t necessarily say it’s the fighter, because all fighters will fight anybody. But from a manger’s standpoint, from a business standpoint, it wasn’t worth them fighting me for $50,00 on USA when you can fight Roy Jones for a million dollars on HBO. The thing with me is, my daddy was my manager. I told my promoter, I’ll fight the champion in his living room with his momma and his aunt.”
Q: Fans who read this are going to want to hear more about your sparring sessions with Roy Jones…
L.P: “Let me explain something about that. Like I said, when I met Roy, it was due to us having to fight each other. And in that very first round, Roy threw a check-hook at me, and me being athletic, I got out of the way if it. But this was my word – ‘where the f**k did that come from!’ It was so fast. I had the understanding then that he knew things I didn’t know. I knew I was athletic enough to compete, but I wasn’t athletic enough to dominate. Roy was like my mentor, between you and me. I learned a lot from Roy. I would say we learnt from each other. But on a good day, for me to go 50-50 with Roy, I would call that a good day for me. I watched Roy fight Gerald McClellan, I watched him fight Frank Lyles, I watched hm fight Tim Littles (as amateurs). Myself, I lost fights I didn’t think I lost, to John Scully and another guy, his name I can’t remember right now.”
Q: But it really was a great era for middleweights, all those guys you’ve just mentioned, and yourself of course. Your career and how it ended, it has a massive ‘what if?’ attached to it. Do you agree, or are you at peace with yourself? I know you are working on your autobiography, and that will be some read.
L.P: “Man, I can’t ever have peace, because I wanted to go down in history in the sport of boxing. So, no – I didn’t win a world title. Everyone knew I was gonna win a world title, but I didn’t win one. So, no, I cannot have peace with myself.”
Q: How did your career end do abruptly? I know you will put it all in the book, but did you test positive for HIV?
L.P: “That will be saved for the book. People need to buy the biography.
Q: But you were in training for a fight with McClellan?
L.P: “Yeah, I was gonna fight McClellan. I know you all know about McClellan and his great record in boxing, but Emanuel Steward, he did not want to fight me.”
Q: What a fight that would have been! And you against Jones and Toney and Hopkins.
L.P: “Me and Reggie, we gonna do a documentary together, telling both of our stories. With me, I had harder fights in the gym than I did in the ring. I sparred world champions, future world champions, top-10 contenders, you know. And none of them lasted more than three days.”
Q: Can you list off some of the other names you sparred?
L.P: “I kind of want to save this for the book.”
Q: I get you. When is the book set to be out?
L.P: “I’m hoping it will be out this year. I want to get it out. The title will be ‘Lamar Kid Fire Parks: Living Legend.’ You see, some of the young folks, they don’t even know about me. I’m a world class teacher as much as I was a world class fighter.”
Parks was cut off as he was seemingly reaching the mega-fights. His forthcoming book promises to be some great read.