04-26-2009 - Golden Gloves Champion Clay Hodges - Class of 1959
Leuzinger Olympian Clay Hodges '59 Two Time Golden Gloves Champion 1966 & 1967 Twice Bested Amateur Boxer George Foreman
Foreman is a big man with a big punch; He was one of the strongest heavyweights that ever entered the ring, if not the strongest; He was also perhaps the hardest hitter of all-time; He possessed a strong jab and uppercut; His greatest weakness was his lack of stamina and endurance - but, in most bouts, he flattened his man before tiring.
Foreman learned his way around the ring. He had a setback to rival Clay Hodges. Clay gave him a terrible time as an amateur. Clay Hodges out pointed the strong and aggressive nineteen year old, twice.
Clay was a two-time Heavyweight National Golden Gloves champion, from both 1966 and ’67. He was simply too skilled for the raw Foreman, who, despite hurting Hodges early in both fights, could not finish him off. George was devastated. Losing to the same man twice, in a space of less than three months, seriously dented his confidence.
Who would have guessed that later on in the year of 1968 George would come to world attention by winning Olympic gold in Mexico? Certainly not Clay Hodges. To this day, George says winning that medal was the proudest moment of his life. A pro career now loomed for the teenager, and the heavyweight championship of the world was his destiny. George’s final amateur record was 22-4.
But what of Hodges? He too tried his hand at professional boxing. Unfortunately, however, he was unable to match his amateur success while fighting for money. Clay turned pro in March of 1970 and won a few fights, most noticeably a points win over future title challenger Jimmy Young. But his career was short-lived and after a stoppage loss to one Kenyatta Hockenhull, later that same year, Hodges hung up his gloves.
The Clay Hodges-George Foreman saga was a perfect example of how differing sports amateur and pro boxing truly are. For while he bested him twice in the unpaid ranks, Clay was unable to follow the man he conquered to the incredible heights the now legendary Foreman scaled. Still, Hodges certainly proved that George, despite being hugely powerful, was also beatable if one possessed a good boxing brain. Something the next man to top Foreman certainly did.