Dick Tiger

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Dick Tiger
Dick Tiger vs Nino Benvenuti 1969.jpg
Dick Tiger (left) with Nino Benvenuti in 1969
Statistics
Real nameRichard Ihetu
Weight class
Weight(s)175 lb (79 kg)
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Reach71 in (180 cm)
NationalityNigeria
Born(1929-08-14)August 14, 1929
Amaigbo, Colony of Nigeria
DiedDecember 14, 1971(1971-12-14) (aged 42)
Aba, Nigeria
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights82
Wins60
Wins by KO27
Losses19
Draws3

Dick Tiger (born Richard Ihetu; August 14, 1929 – December 14, 1971) was a Nigerian-born professional boxer who held the World Middleweight and World Light Heavyweight Championships.[1]

Tiger emigrated to Liverpool, England to pursue his boxing career and later to the United States. Tiger was Igbo and served as a Lieutenant in the Biafran army during the Nigerian Civil War, primarily training soldiers in hand to hand combat.[2]

Tiger was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991. The Ring magazine named him Fighter of the Year in 1962 and 1965, while the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) named him Fighter of the Year in 1962 and 1966. In 2002, Tiger was voted by The Ring magazine as the 31st greatest fighter of the last 80 years.[3]

Professional career[edit]

Tiger became a two-time undisputed world middleweight champion and helped keep boxing alive during the 1950s boxing industry recession. Tiger won the world middleweight title when he beat Gene Fullmer in 1962 and the light heavyweight title in 1966 when he dethroned José Torres of Puerto Rico.[4][5]

Prior to these accomplishments, however, Tiger seemed condemned to poor management and a resulting lack of exposure. In 1957, using Liverpool as his fighting base, Dick Tiger was fighting on undercards for small purses, when by fortune, facing off against popular favorite Terry Downes at Shoreditch Town Hall, he walked away with a TKO after six heats.[6] New management saw to it certain "errors in his style" were corrected, and in another year, Tiger had taken 17 of 19 fights and won the British Middleweight title. In 1959, handled by the independent Jersey Jones, Tiger came to America, to face adversity in a whole, new way. Jersey Jones, resisting the influences of Madison Square Garden, brokered deals for Tiger by himself, which in the short run, cost them both. In an independent promotion at Edmonton, Alberta, Tiger's Empire belt was lost in a more-than questionable 15 round nod to local challenger Wilf Greaves. The decision as rendered, had first been called a draw; appalled, Jones demanded a recount of the cards, which boomeranged, showing the fight, dominated by Tiger, as a win for Greaves. Tiger, sincere and honorable in his dealings, often found this virtuous approach not reciprocated, particularly in North America.[7]

A. J. Liebling, impressed in witnessing Tiger's 1962[8] performance versus Henry Hank of Detroit, described the fighter's appearance thus, "... a chest like an old-fashioned black office safe, dropping away to a slender waist, big thighs, and slender legs; he boxed classically, his arms tight against his sides at the beginning of a punch, his savagely methodical blows moving in short arcs and straight lines."

Such a description was similarly evoked, albeit in simpler terms, by Tiger's contemporaries. Gene Fullmer: "Tiger was a rough guy....I went to Nigeria to fight him, and, of course, I don't know what happened over there....He beat me. He beat me bad. My mother and father could have been judge and referee, and I couldn't have won a round..."[9] Joey Giardello: "I thank Dick Tiger because Dick Tiger was a man and Dick Tiger gave (a title shot) to me. He didn't have to give it to me. He could have give it to somebody else."[10] An additional comment from Giardello, in the form of a sarcastic bon mot, showed contemporary respect for Tiger as a fellow battler. The pair fought four times in all, the last two of these in swapping the middleweight title. Every fight went the distance, meaning that in terms of time, Dick Tiger and Joey Giardello contended face to face for two and a half hours. Prior to one of these latter encounters, when asked by the press if Giardello, a classic boxer, planned to trade punches with Tiger, Giardello squelched this with, "I wouldn't trade stamps with him."[11]

Numerous accounts of Tiger as both man and fighting man, describe a solid, decent, un-nuanced person. Unsurprisingly, a very Western gimmick, the literal "power of the press", or perhaps of Madison Avenue, appears lost on him. Contender Joey Archer, a scientific middleweight of uncommon speed, launched a small space ad campaign directed at Tiger. The ads, using copy such as "I'm a middleweight, and I've licked every man I ever fought, including you", were employed to create a sensation and perhaps a groundswell toward securing Archer a title fight. Tiger had already signed to fight Emile Griffith, and an Archer ad admonished, "The Middleweight Champion should meet the best middleweight (not a welterweight)." Archer carried his cause to talk shows, even to the New York Daily News, was photographed taunting an angry, caged tiger at the Bronx Zoo. Whether this bombast registered in any negative way, or even impacted Dick Tiger's pride, history never discovered after Emile Griffith won Tiger's middleweight belt from him, making Tiger a non-player in the drama. Joey Archer shifted his attentions and, from 1966, Tiger campaigned as a full light heavyweight.[12]

After decisioning Jose Torres to win title honors, Tiger then defended his crown against Torres and Montanan Roger Rouse, before coming up short against veteran Bob Foster of Washington, DC. The left hook Foster used to dethrone Tiger in an instant, was rated among "The 10 Deadliest Punches of the Last 25 Years" in 1975.[13] The power in the one-punch K.O. made such an impact upon Garden promoters, it was felt that a rematch would do poor business. This attitude forced Tiger to contend for the right to regain his crown, and saw him matched against up-and-comer Frankie DePaula, who was coming off five consecutive knockouts. The fight to qualify against Foster was, for its first four rounds, a war which saw both men go down twice, and was selected by Ring magazine as "Fight of the Year". Though Dick Tiger took the decision, having proved his mettle, ill treatment on the American side seemed to cling, as Frankie DePaula, the man he had defeated, was inexplicably given the chance at Bob Foster.[14]

Retirement and death[edit]

After retiring from boxing, Tiger worked as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. One day, he felt a strong pain in his back. Tested by doctors, he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

He had been banned by the Nigerian government in his country because of his involvement in the Biafran movement; however, the ban was lifted immediately after news about his condition arrived in Nigeria. He died of liver cancer on 14 December 1971, aged 42.[where?][15][16]

Professional boxing record[edit]

Professional record summary
82 fights 60 wins 19 losses
By knockout 27 2
By decision 33 17
Draws 3
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
82 Loss 60–19–3 United States Virgin Islands Emile Griffith UD 10 Jul 15, 1970 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
81 Win 60–18–3 United States Andy Kendall UD 10 Nov 14, 1969 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
80 Win 59–18–3 Italy Nino Benvenuti UD 10 May 26, 1969 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
79 Win 58–18–3 United States Frank DePaula UD 10 Oct 25, 1968 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1968)
78 Loss 57–18–3 United States Bob Foster KO 4 (15), 2:05 May 24, 1968 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal light heavyweight titles
77 Win 57–17–3 United States Roger Rouse TKO 12 (15), 0:12 Nov 17, 1967 United States Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal light heavyweight titles
76 Win 56–17–3 Puerto Rico José Torres SD 15 May 16, 1967 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal light heavyweight titles
75 Win 55–17–3 Nigeria Abraham Tomica TKO 5 (10) Feb 05, 1967 Nigeria Mile One Park, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
74 Win 54–17–3 Puerto Rico José Torres UD 15 Dec 16, 1966 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal light heavyweight titles
73 Loss 53–17–3 United States Virgin Islands Emile Griffith UD 15 Apr 25, 1966 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal middleweight titles
72 Win 53–16–3 Germany Peter Mueller KO 3 (10), 0:57 Feb 18, 1966 Germany Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany
71 Win 52–16–3 United States Joey Giardello UD 15 Oct 21, 1965 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal middleweight titles
70 Win 51–16–3 United States Rubin Carter UD 10 May 20, 1965 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
69 Win 50–16–3 Argentina Juan Carlos Rivero TKO 6 (10) Mar 12, 1965 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
68 Loss 49–16–3 United States Joey Archer SD 10 Oct 16, 1964 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
67 Win 49–15–3 United States Don Fullmer UD 10 Sep 11, 1964 United States Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
66 Win 48–15–3 Puerto Rico Jose Monon Gonzalez TKO 6 (10) Jul 31, 1964 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
65 Loss 47–15–3 United States Joey Giardello PTS 15 Dec 07, 1963 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring, and lineal middleweight titles
64 Win 47–14–3 United States Gene Fullmer RTD 7 (15), 3:00 Aug 10, 1963 Nigeria Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, Nigeria Retained WBA and The Ring middleweight titles
Won inaugural WBC and vacant lineal middleweight titles
63 Draw 46–14–3 United States Gene Fullmer PTS 15 Feb 23, 1963 United States Las Vegas Convention Center, Winchester, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA middleweight title
62 Win 46–14–2 United States Gene Fullmer UD 15 Oct 23, 1962 United States Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California, U.S. Won WBA middleweight title
61 Win 45–14–2 United States Henry Hank UD 10 Mar 31, 1962 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
60 Win 44–14–2 Cuba Florentino Fernández TKO 6 (10) Jan 20, 1962 United States Convention Center, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.
59 Win 43–14–2 United States William Pickett UD 10 Dec 16, 1961 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
58 Win 42–14–2 United States Hank Casey SD 10 May 15, 1961 United States Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
57 Win 41–14–2 United States Spider Webb KO 6 (10), 2:41 Apr 15, 1961 United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.
56 Win 40–14–2 United States Gene Armstrong TKO 9 (10), 1:21 Feb 18, 1961 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
55 Win 39–14–2 Canada Wilf Greaves TKO 9 (15), 1:20 Nov 30, 1960 Canada Edmonton Gardens, Edmonton, Canada Won Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
54 Loss 38–14–2 Canada Wilf Greaves SD 15 Jun 22, 1960 Canada Edmonton Gardens, Edmonton, Canada Lost Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
53 Win 38–13–2 Argentina Víctor Zalazar MD 10 Apr 01, 1960 United States Arena, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
52 Win 37–13–2 United States Gene Armstrong UD 10 Feb 24, 1960 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
51 Win 36–13–2 United States Holly Mims MD 10 Dec 30, 1959 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
50 Loss 35–13–2 United States Joey Giardello UD 10 Nov 04, 1959 United States Arena, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
49 Win 35–12–2 United States Joey Giardello UD 10 Sep 30, 1959 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
48 Win 34–12–2 United States Gene Armstrong PTS 10 Sep 02, 1959 United States Convention Hall, Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
47 Loss 33–12–2 United States Rory Calhoun SD 10 Jul 17, 1959 United States War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York, U.S.
46 Draw 33–11–2 United States Rory Calhoun PTS 10 Jun 05, 1959 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.
45 Win 33–11–1 United States Randy Sandy PTS 10 May 12, 1959 United Kingdom Empire Pool, Wembley, England
44 Loss 32–11–1 United States Randy Sandy PTS 10 March 19,1959 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
43 Win 32–10–1 Trinidad and Tobago Yolande Pompey PTS 10 Oct 14, 1958 United Kingdom Empire Pool, London, England
42 Loss 31–10–1 United States Spider Webb PTS 10 Jun 24, 1958 United Kingdom Earls Court Empress Hall, London, England
41 Win 31–9–1 England Billy Ellaway KO 2 (8) May 01, 1958 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
40 Win 30–9–1 England Pat McAteer KO 9 (15) Mar 27, 1958 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England Won Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
39 Win 29–9–1 England Johnny Read KO 6 (8) Feb 25, 1958 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, London, England
38 Win 28–9–1 England Jimmy Lynas KO 7 (8) Feb 03, 1958 United Kingdom King's Hall, Manchester, England
37 Win 27–9–1 France Jean Ruellet PTS 8 Jan 13, 1958 United Kingdom City Hall, Hull, England
36 Win 26–9–1 Republic of Ireland Paddy Delargy KO 6 (10) Nov 28, 1957 United Kingdom Embassy Sportsdrome, Birmingham, England
35 Draw 25–9–1 England Pat McAteer PTS 10 Nov 11, 1957 United Kingdom Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff, Wales
34 Win 25–9 France Jean Claude Poisson PTS 10 Oct 21, 1957 United Kingdom Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff, Wales
33 Win 24–9 Wales Phil Edwards PTS 10 Sep 09, 1957 United Kingdom Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff, Wales
32 Win 23–9 England Alan Dean PTS 8 Jun 25, 1957 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
31 Loss 22–9 Scotland Willie Armstrong PTS 8 Jul 15, 1957 United Kingdom Engineer's Club, Hartlepool, England
30 Win 22–8 France Marius Dori TKO 7 (8) Jun 04, 1957 United Kingdom Harringay Arena, London, England
29 Win 21–8 England Terry Downes TKO 5 (8) May 14, 1957 United Kingdom Town Hall, London, England Cut eye stoppage. Matchup of future world champions.
28 Win 20–8 England Johnny Read TKO 2 (8) Apr 29, 1957 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, London, England
27 Win 19–8 England Alan Dean PTS 8 Nov 09, 1956 United Kingdom Tower Circus, Blackpool, England
26 Loss 18–8 England Alan Dean PTS 6 Oct 18, 1956 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
25 Win 18–7 England Jimmy Lynas PTS 8 Jul 02, 1956 United Kingdom Tower Circus, Blackpool, England
24 Win 17–7 England Wally Scott TKO 4 (8) May 28, 1956 United Kingdom Engineer's Club, Hartlepool, England
23 Win 16–7 England Alan Dean PTS 8 May 10, 1956 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
22 Win 15–7 Wales Dennis Rowley KO 1 (8) May 03, 1956 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
21 Loss 14–7 England George Roe PTS 8 Mar 22, 1956 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
20 Loss 14–6 England Jimmy Lynas PTS 8 Mar 01, 1956 United Kingdom Tower Circus, Blackpool, England
19 Loss 14–5 England Gerry McNally PTS 8 Jan 27, 1956 United Kingdom Tower Circus, Blackpool, England
18 Loss 14–4 England Alan Dean PTS 6 Dec 08, 1955 United Kingdom The Stadium, Liverpool, England
17 Win 14–3 Nigeria Bolaji Johnson PTS 8 Aug 31, 1955 Nigeria Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, Nigeria
16 Win 13–3 Nigeria John Ama KO 2 May 01, 1955 Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria
15 Win 12–3 Nigeria Raheem Fagbemi PTS 8 Jan 31, 1955 Nigeria Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, Nigeria
14 Win 11–3 Nigeria Koko Kid KO 6 Jan 01, 1955 Nigeria Amaigbo, Nigeria
13 Win 10–3 Nigeria Peter Okptra KO 8 Nov 01, 1954 Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria
12 Win 9–3 Nigeria Super Human Power PTS 8 Jul 18, 1954 Nigeria Rex Cinema Hall, Aba, Nigeria
11 Win 8–3 Nigeria Mighty Joe PTS 6 Jun 12, 1954 Nigeria Rex Cinema Hall, Aba, Nigeria
10 Win 7–3 Nigeria Robert Nwanne KO 2 Feb 01, 1954 Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria
9 Loss 6–3 Nigeria Tommy West PTS 6 Jan 29, 1954 Nigeria Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, Nigeria
8 Loss 6–2 Nigeria Tommy West RTD 7 May 20, 1953 Nigeria African Tennis Club, Lagos, Nigeria
7 Win 6–1 Nigeria Simon Eme PTS 8 Feb 01, 1953 Nigeria Lagos, Nigeria
6 Win 5–1 Nigeria Blackie Power PTS 6 Jan 30, 1953 Nigeria Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos, Nigeria
5 Win 4–1 Nigeria Lion Ring TKO 6 Jan 01, 1953 Nigeria Lagos
4 Loss 3–1 Nigeria Tommy West PTS 10 Dec 13, 1952 Nigeria Rex Cinema Hall, Lagos, Nigeria
3 Win 3–0 Nigeria Easy Dynamite KO 1 Oct 01, 1952 Nigeria Port Harcourt, Nigeria
2 Win 2–0 Nigeria Koko Kid PTS 8 Sep 01, 1952 Nigeria Port Harcour, Nigeria
1 Win 1–0 Nigeria Simon Eme KO 2 Jan 01, 1952 Nigeria Aba, Nigeria

Fiction[edit]

  • A fictional August 29, 1963 Madison Square Garden bout in which a heavily favored Dick Tiger loses to Tom "The Hammer" Case of Dallas, Texas comes near the end of Stephen King's time-travel novel, 11/22/63.

TV[edit]

  • Appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series What's My Line? (June 16, 1963). The panel correctly guessed his occupation.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Lineal Boxing World Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  2. ^ Rogak, Larry (2005). You Don't Know Dick!: An Onomastic Reference Compendium. iUniverse. p. 80. ISBN 0-595-35433-5.
  3. ^ Andrew Eisele. "Ring Magazine's 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years". About.com Sports.
  4. ^ "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ "The Lineal Light Heavyweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 6, 2016.
  6. ^ Carpenter, Harry (1975). Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company. p. 123. ISBN 0-8092-8349-2.
  7. ^ Sugar, Bert (1984). The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time. New York, NY: Bonanza Books. pp. 138–139. ISBN 0-517-67246-4.
  8. ^ Liebling, A.J. (1990). A Neutral Corner. San Francisco, CA: North Point Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-86547-450-8.
  9. ^ Heller, Peter (1973). In This Corner! (Dell PB original ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc. pp. 353–354.
  10. ^ Heller, Peter (1973). In This Corner! (Dell PB original ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc. p. 403.
  11. ^ Liebman, Glenn (1996). Boxing Shorts. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, Inc. p. 176. ISBN 0-8092-3216-2.
  12. ^ Dundee, Angelo (2008). My View From The Corner. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-0-07-147739-0.
  13. ^ staff writer, no by-line. "The 10 Deadliest Punches of the Last Quarter Century!". Big Book of Boxing (July, 1975): 25, 54.
  14. ^ Collins, Nigel (1990). Boxing Babylon. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 0-8065-1183-4.
  15. ^ Dick Tiger dies of liver cancer, google.com; accessed November 6, 2016.
  16. ^ "Dick tiger 42, Nigerian boxer who won world titles dead".

Further reading[edit]

  • Makinde, Adeyinka (2005). Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal. Tarentum, PA: Word Association Publishers. ISBN 1-59571-042-6.

External links[edit]

Achievements
Preceded by
Gene Fullmer
WBA middleweight champion
October 23, 1962 - December 7, 1963
Succeeded by
Joey Giardello
Inaugural Champion WBC middleweight champion
August 10, 1963 - December 7, 1963
Vacant
Title last held by
Paul Pender
The Ring middleweight champion
May 7, 1963 - December 7, 1963
Lineal middleweight champion
August 10, 1963 - December 7, 1963
Inaugural Champion Undisputed middleweight champion
August 10, 1963 - December 7, 1963
Preceded by
Joey Giardello
WBA middleweight champion
October 21, 1965 - April 25, 1966
Succeeded by
Emile Griffith
WBC middleweight champion
October 21, 1965 - April 25, 1966
The Ring Middleweight Champion
October 21, 1965 - April 25, 1966
Lineal middleweight champion
October 21, 1965 - April 25, 1966
Undisputed middleweight champion
October 21, 1965 - April 25, 1966
Preceded by
José Torres
WBA light heavyweight champion
December 16, 1966 - May 24, 1968
Succeeded by
Bob Foster
WBC light heavyweight champion
December 16, 1966 - May 24, 1968
The Ring light heavyweight champion
December 16, 1966 - May 24, 1968
Lineal light heavyweight champion
December 16, 1966 - May 24, 1968
Undisputed light heavyweight champion
December 16, 1966 - May 24, 1968
Middleweight status
Preceded by
Randolph Turpin
Latest born world champion to die
December 15, 1971 – January 8, 1995
Succeeded by
Carlos Monzón
Light heavyweight status
Preceded by
Freddie Mills
Latest born world champion to die
December 15, 1971 – October 25, 1980
Succeeded by
Víctor Galíndez