The recent death in Salt Lake City of Dr. Jay Lambert, a former Olympic boxer, brings back memories of a boxing match in the spring of 1946 between Lambert and the late Pete Liapis of Carbon County. The two were aspiring amateur boxers who met in an AAU tournament at the old Elks Lodge building on South Temple in Salt Lake City.
Liapis, recently discharged after war time service in the U.S. Marines, was sponsored by the Price Elks Boxing Club and Lambert was a veteran of the U.S. Air Corps. Both heavyweights, the match started with the two sparring lightly at mid ring when Lambert floored Liapis with a terrific right hand blow. Liapis took a nine count and stood up. Lambert, failing to protect himself, moved in quickly for what everyone thought would be the kill. Liapis was ready for him and landed a strong right hand blow of his own on Lambert's jaw. Lambert went reeling across the ring and down near the ropes. Groggy, he also managed to get up after a nine count. Liapis was on him like a tiger after its prey. Lambert went down again for the full count. The match was over in less than two minutes.
Asked after the fight what his thoughts were as he lay on the canvas when Lambert knocked him down, Liapis responded, "The only thing I was thinking about was that the minute I got up he would be after me and I would be ready."
Ironically, Lambert was born in Helper and Liapis grew up in Helper. The Lambert family resided on Helper's Main Street in the vicinity where the civic auditorium is now located. When the houses on that part of the street were cleared out to widen the street and allow for construction of the auditorium, the Lambert family relocated on the main highway on the Utah County side of the Point of the Mountain. Mr. Lambert operated a service station at that location. Jay Lambert was an outstanding athlete at Lehi High School.
Lambert, who died at the age of 86 last week, went on to a successful career as an amateur boxer, participating in the London Olympics in 1948, He passed up a promising career as a professional boxer for medical school and a career as a surgeon.
Liapis had a brief career as a professional boxer before becoming a police officer for Helper City and then he left Carbon County for California a short time later.