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 name Richard Ihetu
Rated at

Middleweight

Light Heavyweight
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Reach 71 in (180 cm)
Nationality Nigeria Nigerian
Born (1929-08-14)August 14, 1929
Amaigbo, Nigeria
Died December 14, 1971(1971-12-14) (aged 42)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 82
Wins 60
Wins by KO 27
Losses 19
Draws 3

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

A Nigerian who emigrated to Liverpool and later to the United States, Tiger was an ethnic Igbo.[2] Tiger was a boxer, commercial venturer, and Biafran rebel.

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.[3][4]

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 6 heats.[5] 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.[6]

A.J. Liebling, impressed in witnessing Tiger's 1962 [7]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..."[8] 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."[9] 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 4 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 2 and one-half hours. Prior to one of these latter encounters, when asked by the press if Joey, a classic boxer, planned to trade punches with Tiger, Giardello squelched this with, "I wouldn't trade stamps with him."[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13]

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?][14]

Professional boxing record[edit]

60 Wins (27 Knockouts), 19 Defeats (2 Knockouts), 3 Draws[15]
Res. Record Opponent Type Rd., Time Date Location Notes
Loss 60-19-3 United States Virgin Islands Emile Griffith UD 10 1970-07-15 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 60-18-3 United States Andy Kendall UD 10 1969-11-14 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 59-18-3 Italy Nino Benvenuti UD 10 1969-05-26 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 58-18-3 United States Frank DePaula UD 10 1968-10-25 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York The Ring magazine's "Fight of the Year" (1968)
Loss 57-18-3 United States Bob Foster KO 4 (15), 2:05 1968-05-24 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Light heavyweight titles
Win 57-17-3 United States Roger Rouse TKO 12 (15), 0:12 1967-11-17 United States Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Light heavyweight titles
Win 56-17-3 Puerto Rico José Torres SD 15 1967-05-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Retained WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Light heavyweight titles
Win 55-17-3 Nigeria Abraham Tomica TKO 5 (10) 1967-02-05 Nigeria Mile One Park, Port Harcourt
Win 54-17-3 Puerto Rico José Torres UD 15 1966-12-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Won WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Light heavyweight titles
Loss 53-17-3 United States Virgin Islands Emile Griffith UD 15 1966-04-25 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Middleweight titles
Win 53-16-3 Germany Peter Mueller KO 3 (10), 0:57 1966-02-18 Germany Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen
Win 52-16-3 United States Joey Giardello UD 15 1965-10-21 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Won WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Middleweight titles
Win 51-16-3 United States Rubin Carter UD 10 1965-05-20 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 50-16-3 Argentina Juan Carlos Rivero TKO 6 (10) 1965-03-12 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss 49-16-3 United States Joey Archer SD 10 1964-10-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 49-15-3 United States Don Fullmer UD 10 1964-09-11 United States Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Win 48-15-3 Puerto Rico Jose Monon Gonzalez TKO 6 (10) 1964-07-31 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Loss 47-15-3 United States Joey Giardello PTS 15 1963-12-07 United States Atlantic City Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey Lost WBA, WBC, The Ring & Lineal Middleweight titles
Win 47-14-3 United States Gene Fullmer RTD 7 (15), 3:00 1963-08-10 Nigeria Liberty Stadium, Ibadan Retained WBA & Lineal Middleweight titles
Won vacant The Ring & WBC Middleweight titles
Draw 46-14-3 United States Gene Fullmer PTS 15 1963-02-23 United States Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained WBA Middleweight title
Won Lineal Middleweight title
Win 46-14-2 United States Gene Fullmer UD 15 1962-10-23 United States Candlestick Park, California, California Won vacant WBA Middleweight title
Win 45-14-2 United States Henry Hank UD 10 1962-03-31 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 44-14-2 Cuba Florentino Fernández TKO 6 (10) 1962-01-20 United States Miami Beach, Florida
Win 43-14-2 United States William Pickett UD 10 1961-12-16 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 42-14-2 United States Hank Casey SD 10 1961-05-15 United States New Orleans, Louisiana
Win 41-14-2 United States Spider Webb KO 6 (10), 2:41 1961-04-15 United States St. Nicholas Arena, New York, New York
Win 40-14-2 United States Gene Armstrong TKO 9 (10), 1:21 1961-02-18 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 39-14-2 Canada Wilf Greaves TKO 9 (15), 1:20 1960-11-30 Canada Edmonton Gardens, Edmonton, Alberta Won Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
Loss 38-14-2 Canada Wilf Greaves SD 15 1960-06-22 Canada Edmonton Gardens, Edmonton, Alberta Lost Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
Win 38-13-2 Argentina Víctor Zalazar MD 10 1960-04-01 United States Boston Arena, Boston, Massachusetts
Win 37-13-2 United States Gene Armstrong UD 10 1960-02-24 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
Win 36-13-2 United States Holly Mims MD 10 1959-12-30 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
Loss 35-13-2 United States Joey Giardello UD 10 1959-11-04 United States Cleveland Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Win 35-12-2 United States Joey Giardello UD 10 1959-09-30 United States Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois
Win 34-12-2 United States Gene Armstrong PTS 10 1959-09-02 United States Convention Hall, Camden, New Jersey
Loss 33-12-2 United States Rory Calhoun SD 10 1959-07-17 United States War Memorial Auditorium, Syracuse, New York
Draw 33-12-2 United States Rory Calhoun PTS 10 1959-06-05 United States Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Win 33-12-1 United States Randy Sandy PTS 10 1959-05-12 England Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Loss 32-11-1 United States Randy Sandy PTS 10 1959-05-12 England Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Win 32-10-1 Trinidad and Tobago Yolande Pompey PTS 10 1958-10-14 England Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Loss 31-10-1 United States Spider Webb PTS 10 1958-06-24 England Empress Hall, Earl's Court, Kensington, London
Win 31-9-1 England Billy Ellaway KO 2 (8) 1958-05-01 England Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Win 30-9-1 England Pat McAteer KO 9 (15) 1958-03-27 England Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside Won Commonwealth (British Empire) Middleweight title
Win 29-9-1 England Johnny Read KO 6 (8) 1958-03-27 England Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 28-9-1 England Jimmy Lynas KO 7 (8) 1958-02-03 England King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester
Win 27-9-1 France Jean Ruellet PTS 8 1958-01-13 England City Hall, Hull, Yorkshire
Win 26-9-1 Republic of Ireland Paddy Delargy KO 6 (10) 1957-11-28 England Embassy Sportsdrome, Birmingham, West Midlands
Draw 25-9-1 England Pat McAteer PTS 10 1957-11-11 Wales Maindy Stadium, Cardiff
Win 25-9 France Jean Claude Poisson PTS 10 1957-10-21 Wales Maindy Stadium, Cardiff
Win 24-9 Wales Phil Edwards PTS 10 1957-09-09 Wales Maindy Stadium, Cardiff
Win 23-9 England Alan Dean PTS 8 1957-07-25 England Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Loss 22-9 Scotland Willie Armstrong PTS 8 1957-07-15 England Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Win 22-8 France Marius Dori TKO 7 (8) 1957-06-04 England Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 21-8 England Terry Downes TKO 5 (8) 1957-05-14 England Town Hall, Shoreditch, London Cut eye stoppage. Matchup of future world champions.
Win 20-8 England Johnny Read TKO 2 (8) 1957-04-29 England National Sporting Club, Piccadilly, London
Win 19-8 England Alan Dean PTS 8 1956-11-09 England Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 18-8 England Alan Dean PTS 6 1956-10-18 England Liverpool Stadium, Blackpool, Lancashire
Win 18-7 England Jimmy Lynas PTS 8 1956-07-02 England Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire
Win 17-7 England Wally Scott TKO 4 (8) 1956-05-28 England Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Win 16-7 England Alan Dean PTS 8 1956-05-10 England Liverpool Stadium, Blackpool, Lancashire
Win 15-7 Wales Dennis Rowley KO 1 (8) 1956-05-03 England Liverpool Stadium, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 14-7 England George Roe PTS 8 1956-03-22 England Liverpool Stadium, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 14-6 England Jimmy Lynas PTS 8 1956-03-01 England Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 14-5 England Gerry McNally PTS 8 1956-01-27 England Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 14-4 England Alan Dean PTS 6 1955-12-08 England Liverpool Stadium, Blackpool, Lancashire

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.[citation needed]

TV[edit]

  • Appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series What's My Line?. 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. ^ "The Lineal Middleweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. 
  4. ^ "The Lineal Light Heavyweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  5. ^ Carpenter, Harry (1975). Boxing: A Pictorial History. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company. p. 123. ISBN 0-8092-8349-2. 
  6. ^ Sugar, Bert (1984). The 100 Greatest Boxers of All Time. New York, NY: Bonanza Books. pp. 138–139. ISBN 0-517-67246-4. 
  7. ^ Liebling, A.J. (1990). A Neutral Corner. San Francisco, CA: North Point Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-86547-450-8. 
  8. ^ Heller, Peter (1973). In This Corner! (Dell PB original ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc. pp. 353–354. 
  9. ^ Heller, Peter (1973). In This Corner! (Dell PB original ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Inc. p. 403. 
  10. ^ Liebman, Glenn (1996). Boxing Shorts. Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, Inc. p. 176. ISBN 0-8092-3216-2. 
  11. ^ Dundee, Angelo (2008). My View From The Corner. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. pp. 85–86. ISBN 978-0-07-147739-0. 
  12. ^ staff writer, no by-line. "The 10 Deadliest Punches of the Last Quarter Century!". Big Book of Boxing (July, 1975): 25, 54. 
  13. ^ Collins, Nigel (1990). Boxing Babylon. New York, NY: Carol Publishing Group. p. 78. ISBN 0-8065-1183-4. 
  14. ^ Dick Tiger dies of liver cancer, google.com; accessed November 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Dick Tiger's Professional Boxing Record. BoxRec.com. Retrieved on 2011-10-22.
Achievements
Preceded by
Gene Fullmer
WBA Middleweight Champion
October 23, 1962 – December 7, 1963
Succeeded by
Joey Giardello
Vacant
Title last held by
Paul Pender
WBC Middleweight Champion
May 7, 1963 – December 7, 1963
The Ring Middleweight Champion
May 7, 1963 – December 7, 1963
Vacant
Title last held by
Gene Fullmer
Lineal Middleweight Champion
May 7, 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
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
December 16, 1966 – May 24, 1968
Lineal Light Heavyweight Champion
December 16, 1966 – May 24, 1968

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]