PHOTO: Neil Leifer (November 1967)
Deep in his thoughts Dick Tiger, whose real name was Richard Ihetu, sits in his dressing room in the Convention Center , Las Vegas and contemplates his impending bout with Roger Rouse against whom he will be defending his world light heavyweight title.
There was much more to contemplate. With a civil war raging in Nigeria in which he will involve himself as a spokesman on behalf of the secessionist republic of Biafra, he would in a matter of weeks be commissioned into the Physical Corps regiment of the rebel army as a Lieutenant.
As recounted in the biography DICK TIGER: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal, three hours before the bout, word had reached him from the Biafran Mission in New York City that his wife Abigail had given birth to their seventh child seven days previously. It was a seven pound baby girl.
“In this town Dick,” his manager Wilfred ‘Jersey’ Jones excitedly informed him, “three sevens is a jackpot in those one-armed bandits!”
Defying the prediction of an early version IBM computer that he would lose, Tiger stopped Rouse in the eleventh of a scheduled fifteen round bout.
Dick Tiger died four years later on December 14th, a victim of liver cancer.
(C) Adeyinka Makinde (2012)
Adeyinka Makinde is the author of DICK TIGER: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal