Clarence Brown: Ham-and-Egger

By Clarence George on February 6, 2018
Clarence Brown: Ham-and-Egger
Like other jobbers of his time, Brown fought his fellow toughies, and a few luminaries.

I don’t know when or where Clarence Brown was born, or died, nor do I know what he did after leaving the ring. Only his record serves as his epitaph…

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.”—Mark Twain

Ham-and-eggers are worthy of respect, especially those who fought when boxing was a helluva lot rougher and tougher than it is today. A case in point is the unknown Clarence Brown—no, not the film director of the same name, nor musician Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, but a heavyweight who fought out of Chicago from 1938 to 1947 (though out of the ring in ‘41), winding up with an official record of 23 wins, eight by knockout, 24 losses, nine by knockout, six draws, and one no contest.

Like other jobbers of his time, Brown fought his fellow toughies, as well as a few luminaries.

Tony Musto knocked him out in the sixth at White City Arena in Chicago on February 10, 1939; Eddie Simms lost by controversial split decision at Marigold Gardens in Chicago that May 8; Tiger Jack Fox outpointed him at White City Arena that September 1 (“Fox was amazing, unveiling tricks this writer had never seen before,” wrote the Chicago Tribune‘s Bob Soderman, who had a very different reaction to their December 1 match at the same venue. “Fox was anything but the master fistic mechanic he had been on September 1, when he had handed this same Clarence Brown an artistic and thorough shellacking,” Soderman wrote. “Instead, Tiger Jack acted like he was in a trance, and Clarence Brown behaved as if he was still under the hypnotic spell that Tiger Jack had weaved over him when they last met. Their exhibition was appalling.” Indeed, the bout was ruled a no contest and the men’s purses withheld); Lem Franklin drew against him at Marigold Gardens Outdoor Arena in Chicago that September 11 (the only draw in Lammin’ Lem’s 48-fight career); durable Johnny Whiters lost on points at the City Auditorium in Omaha that December 29 (his first loss following 15 consecutive wins, six by KO or TKO); Elza Thompson outpointed him at Marigold Gardens on September 30, 1940; Buddy Walker won on points in Columbus, Ohio, on August 25, 1942, stopped him by fourth-round TKO at Marigold Gardens on May 17, 1943, and outpointed him at the Armory in Indianapolis on October 25, 1946; Joey Maxim won on points at Marigold Gardens on January 18, 1943, and at Chicago Stadium that February 15, and won by unanimous decision at Arcadia Gardens in Detroit on April 16, 1945; Jack Trammell was kayoed in the first at Marigold Gardens on March 1, 1943 (Trammell’s penultimate fight and the fourth of five times he was knocked out); one of “Chicago’s 10 all-time best boxers,” according to the Chicago Tribune, the absurdly neglected Nate Bolden (who scored victories over such worthies as Jake LaMotta, Tony Musto, Freddie Fiducia, Curtis Sheppard, and Phil Muscato, as well as twice besting Tony Zale) lost by split decision at Marigold Gardens Outdoor Arena that July 12; Colion Chaney beat him by split decision at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis on September 25, 1945; Willard Reed kayoed him in the fifth at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Indianapolis on May 29, 1946; the then-inexperienced Sid Peaks (it was only his fifth fight) lost by unanimous decision at the Outdoor Sports Arena in Indianapolis that August 29; Curtis Sheppard knocked him out in the second at the Coliseum in Baltimore that November 25; and Abel Cestac stopped him by 10th-round TKO at the City Auditorium in Omaha that December 30 and kayoed him in the same round, also in Omaha, on February 10, 1947 (part of a 14-win streak, 13 by KO or TKO, the heavy-handed Argentine losing only to Kid Riviera, who won on points at the City Auditorium in Omaha that May 26).

Brown also twice fought the stunningly feather-fisted Orlando Trotter, who only scored one knockout in 21 victories, kayoing Lee Oma (who could very well have been shamming) in the second at Marigold Gardens on March 10, 1941. Brown and Trotter drew at White City Arena on October 28, 1938 (Trotter’s first bout), but Orlando took him on points at Marigold Gardens on November 18, 1940.

Clarence last won on September 30, 1946, at Marigold Gardens, outpointing Bill Petersen (who’d won on points at Marigold Gardens Outdoor Arena on September 17, 1945). He last fought on March 26, 1947, Joe Matisi knocking him out in the second at the Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo.

I don’t know when or where Clarence Brown was born, or died (assuming he’s no longer with us), nor do I know what he did after leaving the ring. Only his record serves as his epitaph. It will have to do.

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  1. Bruce Kielty 09:27am, 02/14/2018

    Nicolas, I would say that it is a sure thing that you are referring to Jerry Strickland (13-122) between 1974-2000 and his younger brother Reggie Strickland (66-276-17) between 1987-2005 for a combined record of 79-398-17.  Reggie was also known as Reggie Raglan.  One of them also had a son who boxed in recent years.  I spoke to a longtime Midwest matchmaker who was familiar with the Stricklands and he claimed that some of the females fought as well.  I have seen Reggie fight in person and, despite his record, when he wanted to fight he was not bad.

  2. Clarence George 02:15pm, 02/09/2018

    Alfonso Bedoya:  With Lizabeth Scott (a likely lesbian) something of an exception, I never found any of those women sexy, regardless of their considerable acting ability.

  3. Alfonso Bedoya 01:08pm, 02/09/2018

    @Clarence George-Jus’ thinkin’.... the other day…when you get right down to it Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Liz Scott and even Joan Crawford were anything but ravin’ beauties….in some ways even odd lookin’!

  4. Clarence George 12:30pm, 02/08/2018

    Delighted to be of service, Nicolas.  You were right about his brother (actually, half-brother), Jerry, who had a similar record.

    Speaking of “The Big Sleep,” Mr. Bedoya, Dorothy Malone died recently.  That was such a wonderful scene.

  5. Clarence George 12:10pm, 02/08/2018

    Glad you liked it, Mr. Bedoya, thank you.

    Tony Zale was first stopped by Roughhouse Glover, a name that makes me think of Doghouse Riley from “The Big Sleep.”

    All the best,

    James Flavin

  6. nicolas 11:58am, 02/08/2018

    Thank you Mr. George. You got it. What is also so funny he won several titles among the 20 percent of the wins. His common law wife, as believed, had 7 fights, all ending in knockouts, with one of those being a win. But she did fight Vonda Ward, Laila Ali, and Joe Fraziers daughter.

  7. Alfonso Bedoya 11:36am, 02/08/2018

    @Clarence George-Very nice remembrance! Clarence beat Nate Bolden who in turn split four fights with Tony Zale…..Nate himself had 35 losses in his career! Christ! Zale had 18 losses during his time and my all time favorite Fritzie Zivic had 65 losses! For these guys and during that epoch a loss…. even a KO loss was just another day at the office!

  8. Clarence George 02:45pm, 02/07/2018

    Too kind, Mr. Morrow (“Combat!” was a huge favorite of mine).

    One vote for Strauss, one for Strickland.  Perhaps there’ll be others.

    All the best,

    Frank Maxwell

  9. Vic Morrow 02:24pm, 02/07/2018

    Excellent article, Mr. George. Your tributes to the forgotten are priceless. Perhaps Nicholas is thinking of Bruce “The Mouse” Strauss?

  10. Clarence George 12:50pm, 02/07/2018

    Reggie Strickland, Nicolas?

  11. nicolas 12:23pm, 02/07/2018

    Sorry it is not Curtis Parker. It is a guy who was just a journey man. He would travel all over. Sure wish I remembered his name.

  12. Ollie Downtown Brown 11:01am, 02/07/2018

    nicolas: I can’t think of who the guy is, but it just made me think of the former middleweight contender of that era, Curtis Parker. Parker, was in no way, shape, or form, a ham-and-egger, but it seems he turned into a trial horse after his first pro loss. I remember watching Parker take on fellow undefeated middleweight, Dwight Davison, and losing a decision on a nationally televised bout in 1980. At the time, Parker was 17-0 with 14 knockouts and was being lauded as a middleweight, Joe Frazier. Next thing you know, Parker loses to just about every major contender he steps in there with. Parker would lose to Mustafa Hamsho twice, Wilfred Scypion, Alex Ramos, John Mugabi, and Michael Nunn. Parker went from a possible match with Hagler to an also ran almost overnight it seemed. He put up some decent entertaining wars with Hamsho and Ramos, but was blitzed by Mugabi and Nunn.

  13. nicolas 09:41am, 02/07/2018

    OLLIE: Cannot remember the guys name or how AI found out about him. thinking was it boxers, I can’t remember. This guy would travel all over the midwest I believe. I don’t think he ever got stopped, but he was always reliable. His brother boxed also had a worst loss record and so did his wife. I really feel a movie about this guy would be interesting. This of course compared to the movies that are turned out now. I will try to find out who this guy was.

  14. Ollie Downtown Brown 04:58pm, 02/06/2018

    I’m trying to figure out who “nicolas” is talking about. I know George “Scrap Iron” Johnson fought in the late 50’s through 70’s and he finished at sub .500, but Scrap was finished by 1975. His last fight was against Duane Bobick. The list of his opponents read like a Who’s Who List of top notch heavyweights from that era. And I don’t think Scrap Iron was married to a female boxer.

    Damn it, nicolas, that is bugging the sh*t out of me now. What weight did the guy fight at?

  15. Clarence George 04:50pm, 02/06/2018

    I didn’t know that Billy Fox was still alive, Lucas; never occurred to me that he might be.  His photo recently came up for auction, but there were no bids.

    Thanks for introducing me to Al Bolden, ODB, whom I didn’t know.

  16. Ollie Downtown Brown 03:51pm, 02/06/2018

    Wonder if Nate Bolden might have been related to a fighter from the 70’s & 80’s named, Al Bolden. Al Bolden might have been ranked somewhat higher than; ham-and-egger, maybe at least the “opponent” or trial horse category. Bolden managed to escape with a .500 win pct., but just barely, but you have to consider the guy fought guys like Mate Parlov, Yaqui Lopez (twice), Bob Foster, Jesse Burnett, Dwight Qawi, Mike Rossman and Jeff Lampkin. Al Bolden would finish at 20-19-1 with 12 ko’s and 11 knockout losses.

  17. Lucas McCain 03:08pm, 02/06/2018

    Your mention of Tiger Jack Fox sent me on an internet Fox hunt, checking up (for the hell of it) on “Blackjack” Billy Fox—best known for his La Motta fix.  Amazingly, it seems Blackjack Billy is still alive at 94!

  18. Clarence George 01:20pm, 02/06/2018

    I don’t know about that, Mr. Stewart, but appreciate the thought.

    Best,

    Sean McClory

  19. J. Stewart 01:06pm, 02/06/2018

    Remember, George, no man is a failure who is named Clarence.

  20. Clarence George 12:55pm, 02/06/2018

    Thanks very much, Nicolas, so glad you liked it.

    In a very real sense, boxing history is made up of men like Clarence Brown.  Impossible to write about them all.  Or even to know their names.  Perhaps the movie that best speaks for them is “The Set-Up.”

    I’m not expert on Marigold Gardens Outdoor Arena, though I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that it was an adjunct of Marigold Gardens.  You’re right that it was more famous for wrestling than boxing.  In fact, if I remember correctly, the venue continued for some years following the last boxing match there.

  21. nicolas 11:53am, 02/06/2018

    Great article Mr. George. Boxing is full of men who have lost so many times, and we forget about them. I can’t remember the guy, but I guess there was another black fighter back in the 70’s or 80’s, who lost so many times, but I heard he would always be there to fight. His wife also fought, and also lost so many times. the interesting movies that should have been made but have not. Could you imagine a boxer today fighting in a four to 5 month period, and being knockout or stopped all those times today? I looked up also this Marigold outdoor arena in Chicago. I guess it was more famous for wrestling shows on the Old Dupont Network. I guess it was also a small outdoor arena..

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