“Dick Tiger” — Meet The First African to be Inducted Into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

Must Read

Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa’s Kru People

The Kru or Kroo are a West African ethnic group who are indigenous to eastern Liberia. During the Slave trade era, they were also infamous amongst early European slave raiders as being especially averse to capture

The Mbuti People Of Congo And Their Sister Exchange Form Of Marriage

In the Mbuti tribe, marriage is by sister exchange: Based on reciprocal exchange, men from other bands exchange sisters...

Slavery Abolition Act 1833: Slavery Was Abolished Throughout The British Empire On This Day

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 that abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa and making the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal



Richard Ihetu aka Dick Tiger was a Nigerian-born professional boxer who held the World Middleweight and World Light Heavyweight Championships in the 1950’s and also the first African to be Inducted into the international boxing hall of fame.

Dick Tiger — Meet The First African to be Inducted Into the International Boxing Hall of Fame

Born on 14 August 1929 in Amaigbo, a village in present day Imo State, Nigeria, Dick Tiger started boxing professionally at the age of 23 amassing a near perfect record of 15 wins in 16 contests in his home country before migrating to England to pursue his boxing career.

On getting to England, despite his obvious talents, he found it difficult to adjust to the new environment. He lost his first four fights in the country, before settling in and piling some victories and also clinching the British Middleweight title.

In 1959, handled by an independent agent, Tiger moved to America, to further his boxing career. There he became a two-time undisputed world middleweight champion.

He 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.

Dick Tiger — Meet The First African to be Inducted Into the International Boxing Hall of Fame
Tiger served as a Lieutenant in the Biafran army during the Nigerian Civil War, primarily training soldiers in hand to hand combat he also donated money to the cause

His career record was 60 victories, 19 losses and three draws, with 26 knockouts.

Numerous accounts of Tiger as both man and fighting man, describe a solid, un-nuanced person.

“… 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.”

Above is a description of the Dick Tiger’s appearance by American journalist A. J. Liebling


Gene Fullmer, a fellow boxer and one of Tigers contemporaries also had this to say about him:

“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…”

Dick tiger fought his last fight on July 15, 1970, where he lost to Emile Griffith in an unanimous points decision after a 10-round encounter at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Related:   Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa's Kru People

After losing to Griffith, he no longer was in demand for major matches.

His boxing income ceasing prompted him to get a job as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Less than a year after he got the job, he fell ill and was diagnosed with liver cancer.

He had been banned by the Nigerian government from entering the country because of his involvement in the Biafran movement; however, the ban was lifted immediately the news about his condition arrived in Nigeria which allowed him to come back to his family. He died of liver cancer on 14 December 1971, aged 42 and was buried in his hometown of Amaigbo.

Tiger’s earnings for his 15‐year career were estimated by his manager, at $500,000 but Tiger died virtually penniless. His riches, invested in seven apartment houses in Nigeria, were lost in the civil war.

Related:   Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa's Kru People

Legacy

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.

In his hometown, a secondary school, (Dick Tiger Memorial Secondary School) was named after him by his people, also the them Governor of his state Okorocha gave him an award as the Grand Commander of the Order of Imo (GCOI).



Mr Madu
Mr Madu is a freelance writer, a lover of Africa and a frequent hiker who loves long, vigorous walks, usually on hills or mountains.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to receive email updates

With a subscription profile, you automatically receive updates without having to return to the website and check for changes

Just In

Fighting Slavery With Suicide: The Fascinating Story of Africa’s Kru People

The Kru or Kroo are a West African ethnic group who are indigenous to eastern Liberia. During the Slave trade era, they were also infamous amongst early European slave raiders as being especially averse to capture

The Mbuti People Of Congo And Their Sister Exchange Form Of Marriage

In the Mbuti tribe, marriage is by sister exchange: Based on reciprocal exchange, men from other bands exchange sisters or other females in his...

Slavery Abolition Act 1833: Slavery Was Abolished Throughout The British Empire On This Day

The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 that abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa and making the purchase or ownership of slaves illegal

According To Reputation Poll International (PI), These Are The 100 Most Reputable Africans In 2020

Reputation Poll International, a leading global reputation-management firm, has released the 2020 list of 100 Most Reputable Africans. The list features 47 women and 53...

Ndubisi Egbo — The Nigerian Coach Who Overcame Racism To Guide His Team To UEFA Champions League

The first African coach to take a team to the European Champions League, Ndubisi Egbo of Albanian side KF Tirana, has spoken of the...

More Articles Like This