Thursday 27 December 2018

Dick Tiger in the Biafran Army

Dick Tiger strikes a boxer’s pose in Biafran Army Uniform

Richard Ihetu, better known by his nom de guerre Dick Tiger, was more than a three-time world champion boxer and a national hero to Nigeria. He also became a supporter and spokesman for the secessionist state of Biafra.

He officially renounced all associations with Nigeria at a press conference held in Enugu in June 1967, a little over two weeks after Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had declared the birth of the rebel republic. The news wires quoted him as saying:

Nigeria is dead. I am a Biafran.

Then sometime in December of that year he received a direct commission into the Morale Corps of the Biafran Army as a second lieutenant.  This was not revealed to the public until the end of the following month when he was interviewed by foreign news journalists in the city of Port Harcourt. He told them that he had been touring the new nation and putting new Biafran military recruits through their paces at induction centres.

This rarely seen footage shows Tiger doing precisely that and ends with him driving his Mercedes Benz to his family home where he is welcomed by his wife Abigail, mother Rebecca and his children.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

Adeyinka Makinde is the author of the biography Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Companion to Boxing to be published by Cambridge University Press.

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