Still to this day, heavyweight banger LaMar Clark of Utah holds the record for most consecutive knockouts scored by a pro heavyweight boxer. Clark, who went pro in January of 1958, scoring, quite ironically, a points win over six rounds, then romped to an astonishing 44 straight KO’s. To this day, this streak of KO’s by a heavyweight stands untouched.
Now, no-one is saying Clark, a decent amateur who amassed a 25-2 record and won the regional Golden Gloves, was the greatest heavyweight puncher, or the greatest heavyweight anything. No. But the big, athletic, and white puncher sure had the ability to whack. At a certain level. In fact, as many fine writers so inspired by the sport of boxing have said, or have written by now, it takes something, maybe a little something more than the average gringo is capable of, to flatten, to take out, 44 fighting men.
But Clark managed it. From 1958 to 1960, Clark took out his 44 opponents. The record is subject to debate – with invaluable site BoxRec listing Clark at 43-3(42) overall – but there is no denying Clark’s punching power. At a certain level.
But Clark was no limited puncher who was able to take care of business against elite fighters (as some critics say Deontay Wilder, who currently has 41 KO’s, is). Instead, Clark, a likable fighter who was keen to stay at home and fight (40 of his pro fights taking place in Utah) came unstuck when his power failed to get the job done. In looking at Clark’s impressive record, closer inspection reveals how, of his quite mind-boggling number of KO wins, only one of his foes – yes, one – entered the ring with him whilst sporting a winning record. And of a special interest to movie fans is the fact that this one winning fighter was a certain Tony Burton, who was 4-2-1 at the time of his April 1959, 4th-round KO loss of a fight to Clark (and heavyweight legend Jack Dempsey was the ref on the night when future “Rocky” movie stalwart Burton was in the opposite corner to Clark).
Shortly after this win, in fact a year later, Clark would lose his unbeaten ledger, being stopped, in the 9th-round, by a guy named Bartolo Soni, 12-2-1 coming in. Then stopped by Pete Rademacher (TKO by 10), Clark manged just one more win, a KO over a 6-12-4 fighter – before LaMar was taken to school by a 5-0 Cassius Clay. Clark was stopped in a couple of rounds. Clark then called it quits.
Today, Clark is a footnote in heavyweight boxing history due to his impressive KO numbers – he once scored six KO’s over six individual foes in in one night, five in the opening round; this in December of 1958 – but he is also a reminder of how power, KO’s and a winning record over no-names is, to be harsh if not cruel, nothing much to boast about.
As many of the great ones have said: it’s okay to be able to give one, but you have to be able to take one.
LaMar Clark, a good, honest fighter, would doubtless agree.
LaMar passed away in November of 2006 aged 71. He has a unique place in boxing history.