Clarence Hinnant: He Fought Them All

By Clarence George on July 5, 2015
Clarence Hinnant: He Fought Them All
Born in Wilson, North Carolina, light heavyweight Clarence Hinnant (rt.) fought out of DC.

Rather curiously, Hinnant three times beat a fighter by the name of Young Kid Satan and once decisioned Raymond Dieu (French for God). Hmmm…

“The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray.”—Robert Burns

“That’s all we did in the military was box,” legendary light heavyweight champ Bob Foster told Chris Cozzone in a 2001 interview. “We were some baaddd amateurs in the Air Force.”

“They used to bring all the pros down to the base to box with us,” Foster continued. “One day, my trainers said, ‘Bob, you’re gonna box with Clarence Hinnant.’ I said, ‘Box with who?’ Man, I was cocky back then, being the Air Force’s light heavyweight champion, and the Pan American champ and all that. While I was putting on my shoes, I asked this guy, ‘Hey Mack, who’s this Clarence Hinnant guy?’ He said Hinnant was the #2 light heavyweight contender. ‘You mean he’s a pro? Oh Lordy...’

“I got in there and Hinnant spanked my butt. I was scared to death. Actually, I was a little nervous, not really scared, working with a professional. I didn’t know what to do. Every time I did something, this guy had something to deal with it. I’d throw a punch and he’d sit there and whap! whap! whap!, do something back.

“Well, my trainer jumped all over me. He said, ‘Tomorrow, you’re gonna box with him again. He ain’t no different than you. He puts on his pants the same way you do. He’s got two hands just like you got two hands. Hell, you a professional too, you just ain’t signed no papers.’

“Next day we go out there, we started to box. I noticed something when he jabbed, his hands dropped low, so I stepped in there and boom! One shot, put him down.

“Hinnant had been getting ready to fight Yvon Durelle and if he’d beaten Durelle, he’d get a shot at Archie Moore for the title. But I hit him with that right hand and his left leg went up in the air, his eyes went up in his head and he went down. His trainers jumped in the ring, ‘Hey Clarence, you alright? Clarence, you alright?’

“‘Yeah, huh? Yeah…I’m alright…uh-huh…’ Hell, he didn’t know where he was! His trainer looked at me, looked at my trainer, Freddy, and said, ‘Who the hell is that skinny kid?’

“‘That’s Bob Foster,’ my trainer told him.”

Guys named Clarence didn’t fare too well against Foster, who also kayoed Clarence Floyd (as did Yvon Durelle) and outpointed Clarence Ryan.

Born in Wilson, North Carolina, light heavyweight Clarence Hinnant fought out of DC from 1950 to 1962 (though he didn’t fight at all in 1961), returning for one more bout in 1967, racking up a record of 40 wins, 28 by knockout, 20 losses, nine by knockout, and one draw. He was eighth-ranked by The Ring in 1957.

Hinnant stopped Sal Belloise by fourth-round KO at Yankee Stadium on June 25, 1952, but was twice decisioned by tough George Benton in 1955, on September 30 and October 21, both times at Cambria A.C. in Philly. He stopped Willie Troy by seventh-round TKO at the Auditorium in Miami Beach on May 15, 1956, but was decisioned by Tony Anthony at the Capitol Arena in DC on October 5 the same year. He twice stopped previously unbeaten and hard-hitting Richard Kelly in 1956, on November 17 and December 20, in North Carolina and South Carolina, respectively, both times by sixth-round KO. On February 19, 1957, Hinnant stopped Yvon Durelle by seventh-round TKO at Miami Beach’s Auditorium, but was himself knocked out in the first by Harold Johnson at St. Nicholas Arena in New York City on May 31 that year. After drawing against Yolande Pompey at Chicago Stadium on December 18, 1957, Hinnant lost his remaining nine fights, including an ill-advised comeback, stopped by Hal Carroll via fifth-round TKO at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, on September 18, 1967. Our boy also lost to someone who had the impertinence to call himself Battling Siki, decisioned at Swingsters Square Garden in San Nicolas, Aruba, on November 11, 1958, and was stopped by Joey Giardello via third-round TKO in Billings, Montana, on September 27, 1960. Hinnant’s last win came on April 30, 1957, when he stopped Calvin Butler (a substitute for Eddie DeMars) by ninth-round TKO at Miami Beach’s Auditorium.

Rather curiously, Hinnant three times beat a fighter by the name of Young Kid Satan and once decisioned Raymond Dieu (French for God). Hmmm…

Perhaps ruined by the Bob Foster beat down, Hinnant lost to Yvon Durelle by sixth-round TKO at Madison Square Garden on January 31, 1958, in what Joseph MacSween of the Ottawa Citizen called “a bruising battle,” referring to Hinnant as “a game and tough opponent.”

It was thus Durelle who went on to challenge Archie Moore for the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World, getting himself kayoed in the 11th at the Forum in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on December 10, 1958. The Canadian tried again on August 12, 1959, losing by third-round KO, again at the Forum.

No reason to think Hinnant would have fared any better. Hey, it’s Archie Moore. Despite Durelle putting him down four times in their first fight, “The Old Mongoose” stopped him. Anyway, thanks to Bob Foster, we’ll never know.

Still, Hinnant should hold his head high. It’s just like Foster said, “Fighters today are babied. Back in my day, we took risks and fought ‘em all.”

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  1. Clarence George 07:00pm, 07/05/2015

    Not at all, Peter.  “Kerfuffle” would also be welcome.

  2. peter 06:39pm, 07/05/2015

    Interesting story about a guy who “fought them all.” Of special interest was Hinnant’s early imbroglios with Foster—a young amateur who was to go on to fistic greatness. Hinnant certainly had the misfortune to be competing as a light heavyweight at the wrong time—he was sandwiched between two boxing legends—Archie Moore and Bob Foster…You don’t mind if I use the word “imbroglio”, do you?

  3. Clarence George 04:42pm, 07/05/2015

    Good story, KB, very six degrees of separation.

    Bowdry (in the photo above) was a solid fighter and a very hard puncher.  He usually lost against the better names, such as Bobo Olson, but he did beat Willie Pastrano.  And he’s another one who beat Clarence Floyd.  Most relevantly, he twice beat Hinnant.  You got me on Kartalian.  I never heard of him, but was glad to look him up.

  4. KB 03:20pm, 07/05/2015

    Bowdry beat a guy by the bane of George “Peppy” Kartalian in the Chicago Stadium. Peppy’s trainer in the service was named Spero Shizas and he was my trainer when I boxed sparingly (no pun intended) in college from 56-59 out of Waukegan, Illinois. Small world. Soon as I saw the name, something stirred. Guess Alzheimer’s will have to wait a while.

  5. Clarence George 12:50pm, 07/05/2015

    Pretty much everything was better in the old days, Irish.  That’s when judges gave young hoodlums a choice between reform school and the military.  The smarter ones chose the latter, which made men of them.  In those days, of course, the military was interested in doing exactly that, rather than serving as a Petri dish for social experimentation.  But I’m just a crusty curmudgeon.  Well, not so much crusty as charming.

  6. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 10:27am, 07/05/2015

    Clarence George-Those were the days my friend…..when a guy could join the military and just box….no soldiering…..just boxing….or play football on teams that could beat major college teams or retire straight to Skid Row after twenty years as an an alcoholic buck private with numerous reductions in rank along the way. I had a buddy who joined the Air Force in 1955 as a 17 year old without finishing eighth grade…..AHHH….those were the days.

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