Olympian Lawrence Clay-Bey Reflects back on Career! By Ken Hissner (Feb 3, 2010) DoghouseBoxing
In 1992 Lawrence Clay-Bey walked into a boxing gym weighing 275 pounds looking to lose some weight. Four years later he was team captain representing the USA in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. His first bout would be against the current IBF/WBO/IBO world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. In a close and controversial bout in which Klitschko was given a standing 8 count Clay-Bey would lose 10-8 to the eventual Gold Medal winner.
Clay-Bey earned his way to the Olympics winning the 1995 and 1996 US Amateur super heavyweight titles. In 1995 he won a bronze medal in the World Amateur Boxing Championships in Germany. In the Olympic trials he would defeat Joe Mesi. In a rematch in the box-offs he would be defeated. “I won easy in our first fight. In our second meeting I ate a heavy meal and he beat me like a drum,” said Clay-Bey. In the box-off Clay-Bey would stop Mesi in the 1st round to make the team. He finished with a 60-9 record after dropping his first 2 fights in the amateurs. He was born in Hartford and moved to Bloomfield.
In 1997 Clay-Bey turned pro under the America Presents banner joining David Reid, Pae Wolfgramm, Duncan Dokiwari and Lance Whitaker. Wolfgramm and Dokiwari also competed in the 1996 Olympics. Larry Goosen would be his trainer. “We had a good relationship, Larry and I,” said Clay-Bey.
Clay-Bey was 31 when he had his first fight knocking out Billy McDonald in July of 1997. Being he got a late start he wasn’t given a bunch of soft opponents and by his 7th fight he was taking out previously unbeaten Mario Cawley, 21-1, in the 2nd round in Atlantic City. “I trained for a much heavier opponent so when he came in at a little over 200 (206) to my 226 (career lowest) I had to chase him down,” said Clay-Bey. Several weeks later he would stop Nate Tubbs, 17-2, (Tony Tubbs brother) in 4 rounds. Tubbs had scored a knockout several fights previously over then unbeaten South African Corrie Sanders, 23-0. “He came in over 270 and was a big guy,” said Clay-Bey.
In August of 1999 Clay-Bey won his 10th straight, second by decision over previously unbeaten Dale Crowe, 15-1, who would later in his career end Greg Page’s career. Next up would be the former WBA Cruiserweight champion Robert “Preacherman” Daniels, 39-3-1, who had defeated Dwight Qawi (Braxton) for the title. “That was the first time I was knocked down as a pro,” said Clay-Bey. As a heavyweight he was unbeaten in 15 fights including Terry Ray, 33-3, Kenny Keene, 38-1 and Don Pieder 21-0. Clay-Bey easily won a 10 round decision in Florida where Daniels was from. His opposition through 12 fights had a combined record of 184-35.
Next up Clay-Bey stopped Mike Williams, 22-5, in Detroit, in 6 rounds, putting him into retirement. With a 12-0 record he would meet the former prison inmate Clifford “Black Rhino” Etienne, 18-0, who was a hot commodity having dealt Lamon Brewster then 23-0 his first loss. Their bout was on the undercard of the Lennox Lewis-David Tua title fight. “Even though I watched his fights he was a lot better conditioned than I thought. I had no legs under me from the start. I ran more than I should have. Larry (Goosen) told me not to run so much,” said Clay-Bey. He would lose a decision.
I saw other fighters with my promoter get treated differently after losing their first fight. I told them I wasn’t coming back to Denver if that was going to be the case with me. They actually put me in a bigger apartment,” said Clay-Bey. He would only fight 4 times in almost 2 years defeating Ken Murphy, 21-2-1, and Gary Winmon, 25-3 by knockouts. It was 10 months of inactivity before his last fight. He signed with a new promoter in Sugar Ray Leonard.
“I had a knockout over “Big Buck” (Sedreck Fields), and then had to fight an amateur friend in Charles Shufford, 19-2. It was like a chess match,” said Clay-Bey. Shufford had just defeated Elieser Castillo, 23-2-2. Clay-Bey won the decision setting the stage for a NABF title bout with Castillo in June of 2003. “We had sparred many times in camp together and I simply ran out of gas in the 9th round,” said Clay-Bey. He would win his next 3 fights by knockout including the former IBF cruiserweight champion, Imamu Mayfield, 24-4-2, for the vacant IBA Continental title. His weight was becoming a problem fighting around 260 and he was working again for the correctional system. Al Mitchell had trained him for several fights and he would end up with John “Iceman” Scully who arranged this interview for me. “If I could have put into boxing what he (Scully) did I think it would have been a lot different,” said Clay-Bey.
Clay-Bey traveled to Germany to fight Sinan Samil Sam, 22-2, of Turkey, for his WBC International title. He would lose the 12 rounder and knew the hand writing was on the wall. “I was suffering from jet lag but still thought I won the fight”, said Clay-Bey. Six months later he ended his career with Philly spoiler Derek Bryant, 18-4, fighting to a 10 round draw in August of 2005. One judge had him ahead by a point and the two others even. His final record was 21-3-1 with 16 knockouts. He would retire at the age of 39. “I’ve been a correctional officer for 15 years and could have been retired now but took time off with the boxing. My 20 year old son, Jarin, is an amateur now at l78 having his first Golden Gloves competition. Scully also trains him.
Considering Clay-Bey got started at 26 and being a member of the 1996 Olympic team just 4 years later was quite an accomplishment. With only 25 fights in 9 years compared to 69 amateur fights in 4 years, the inactivity didn’t help his professional career. Just think if he got started at 21 and did as well as he did in the amateurs at 27? He was a very recognized boxer appearing on the cable, but seems another fellow Olympian from the 1984 team, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker saw him approaching at a gathering and waved him off like he was seeking an autograph. The person he was coming over to see who had his back toward Clay-Bey, was none other than Zab Judah. When Judah turned around he laughed and said to “Sweet Pea”, “that’s Clay-Bey, you were at his fight last night”. Seems not everybody remembered the team captain from the 1996 team! By the way don’t forget the name Jarin Clay-Bey, who is starting his career a lot sooner than his dad! After all, 2012 will be here before you know it!