Dick Tiger

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Class of 1991
Modern Category
Hall of Fame bio:click

Name: Dick Tiger
Birth Name: Richard Ihetu
Hometown: Amaigbo, Nigeria
Birthplace: Amaigbo, Nigeria
Died: 1971-12-15 (Age:42)
Stance: Orthodox
Height: 173cm
Reach: 180cm
Pro Boxer: Record

Professional record

  • 4 opponents (2 by KO) beaten for World Title.
    • 2 opponents* (1 by KO) for World Light Heavyweight Title.
    • 3 opponents* (1 by KO) for World Middleweight Title.
    • 1 opponent (Jose Torres) beaten for World Light Heavyweight (by SD) and World Middleweight (by UD) Title.


  • Richard Ihetu—later Dick Tiger—started boxing at age 19, competing in inter-club contests organized by British military officers in Nigeria.
  • At one of his bouts, an Englishman named Bob Diamen watched the short, stocky Ihetu practically jump in the air to hit his opponent. What tenacity he thought, almost like a Tiger. "A tiger is what he is!" he shouted. Thus was born the sobriquet Dick Tiger.
  • The Ring recognized Tiger—who had defeated Gene Fullmer to win the WBA Middleweight Championship in 1962—as World Middleweight Champion following the retirement of Paul Pender in May 1963. Pender defeated Sugar Ray Robinson in 1960 to win recognition as World Middleweight Champion by The Ring, New York, Massachusetts and Europe. When Pender retired, he was recognized only by The Ring and Massachusetts, his home state.
  • Tiger appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series What's My Line? in June 1963. The show consisted of celebrity panelists questioning contestants in order to determine their occupations. The panel correctly guessed Tiger's line of work.
  • Nigeria's Eastern Region voted to secede in May 1967 and declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, which led to civil war. Tiger swore allegiance to the new republic and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Biafran morale corps. Tiger lost his property and money in the war, and he was banned by the Nigerian government following Biafra's surrender in January 1970.
  • Queen Elizabeth II honored Tiger with the Order of the British Empire. He later returned it in protest of the British government's support of the Nigerian regime during the civil war.
  • Tiger's final fight was a ten-round decision loss to Emile Griffith on July 15, 1970. Following the loss, Tiger was unable to secure any big paydays and went to work as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
  • Tiger was diagnosed with liver cancer in 1971. Shortly before his death, he was allowed to return to Nigeria to be with his wife and five children.
  • Former pro boxer Young Dick Tiger is the nephew of Dick Tiger.
  • A fictional Dick Tiger fight against a fictional opponent—which is described in bloody detail—figures largely near the end of Stephen King's 2011 time-travel novel 11/22/63. In a huge upset, Tiger loses to Tom "The Hammer" Case of Dallas, Texas, by a fifth-round knockout at Madison Square Garden on August 29, 1963.

Awards & Recognition

Preceded by:
NBA Middleweight Champion
Gene Fullmer
WBA Middleweight Champion
1962 Oct 23 – 1963 Dec 7
Succeeded by:
Joey Giardello
Preceded by:
Inaugural Champion
WBC Middleweight Champion
1963 Aug 10 – 1963 Dec 7
Succeeded by:
Joey Giardello
Preceded by:
Joey Giardello
WBA Middleweight Champion
WBC Middleweight Champion

1965 Oct 21 – 1966 Apr 25
Succeeded by:
Emile Griffith
Preceded by:
Jose Torres
WBA Light Heavyweight Champion
WBC Light Heavyweight Champion

1966 Dec 16 – 1968 May 24
Succeeded by:
Bob Foster