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Makinde’s book also reveals him as a fine human being – intelligent, and resourceful,

with a deep self-pride and a profound commitment to his people. Unlike so many boxers

of his time and ours, he was a virtual teetotaller

 

 

Adeyinka Makinde, Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal, Word Association Publishers, $18.95 (312 pages)

Dick Tiger: The Life and Times of a Boxing Immortal

A Biography by Adeyinka Makinde

Reviewed by Gavin Evans


When it comes to rating the greatest African boxer of all-time it is impossible to sidestep Dick Tiger. A strong case can be made for Azumah Nelson’s devastating power, refined skills and superlative record but it was the man known to his parents as Richard Ihetu who laid the path for the likes of Nelson, Ike Quartey and, today, Sam Peter, in their bids to win over the hard-to-please American fight fans.

Forty years have passed since Tiger became the first-ever African boxer to win world titles in two weight divisions. The weight-drained Biafran-Nigerian controversially lost his world middleweight title to Emile Griffith (with 17 of the 22 ringside reporters giving the fight to the champion) and then shocked the boxing world by giving away 8 lb., 4 inches and seven years to batter the 39-1-1 Jose Torres around the ring to lift the world light heavyweight title.

But 1966 was also a year of great sadness. The pogroms directed against the Igbo people unleashed a series of events that forced Tiger into exile and clouded his remaining six years. He became a vocal international voice for the fledgling Biafran state, renouncing all association with Nigeria and returning his MBE to Britain in protest against its support for the Nigerian regime. He was commissioned as an officer in the Biafran army, after which he smuggled his wife and eight children out of the country, while popping back and forth between Biafra and America, competing in major fights – a remarkable spell in a truly remarkable life.

He returned home following the defeat of the Biafran independence campaign, and on December 15 1971 died of liver cancer. For a while he was virtually forgotten but over the last 15 years there has been a revival in his posthumous fortunes. In 1991 Tiger became the first African boxer to be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and since then films of his fights shown on ESPN and a steady stream of magazine articles have helped to revive his reputation. Adeyinka Makinde, a Nigerian-born, London-based barrister and law lecturer, has added considerably to this legacy with a fascinating first biography.

He mixes the story of Tiger’s early life in Aba, Eastern Nigeria, with a social history of the Igbo people, before getting his teeth into the long tale of the man’s boxing career, which he tells with understated flare, never stinting from criticism of his subject when due. Makinde’s research is impressive. For instance, contrary to published records, which have Tiger winning one and losing one against Tommy West, Makinde shows he had three bouts with West, losing them all.

Following his countryman, Hogan Kid Bassey, he arrived in Liverpool in 1955 and began the British leg of his career with four defeats (two disputed). At that stage British boxing was reeling from the doubling of the taxes on gross promotional receipts (from 15 to 30 percent). African boxers, prepared to accept lower purses, helped to keep it alive, even if they were regarded as expendable.

Tiger was a slow learner, but one who eventually absorbed his lessons well. His breakthrough came in 1957 when he was pitted with one of the young stars in the Mickey Duff and Harry Levene stable, Terry Downes, stopping him in six rounds. Later that year he drew with the British champion Pat McAteer and in four months stopped him in four rounds to win the Commonwealth title.

After four years in Britain he relocated to New York and it was there that he learnt the fine points of the game. He suffered several setbacks, including questionable losses to Rory Calhoun, Joey Giardello and Wilf Greaves, but a series of impressive wins over leading contenders earned him a shot at Gene Fullmer’s middleweight title. He proved to be significantly stronger than the Utah ironman, driving him around the ring, slipping his punches, carving up his face and outboxing him to lift the title. In the return, a more cautious Fullmer earned a draw but in their third fight, in Ibadan, Nigeria, the rampant Tiger forced Fullmer’s retirement after seven emphatic rounds.

His third defence came against his old rival, Joey Giardello, who jabbed and ran, to lift the title. It took Tiger two years to force Giardello into a return – a frustrating period that saw him picking up four wins and a highly dubious split points loss to Joey Archer. One of his victims in this period was Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, who was dropped three times and badly beaten up, afterwards describing it as the worst beating he had taken “inside or outside of the ring.”

In his next fight a 36-year-old Tiger had no trouble regaining the world title, with his second win over Giardello and followed that with a knockout over Germany’s Peter Mueller, that controversial points loss to Griffiths (for example, Ring editor Nat Fleisher gave it to Tiger by ten rounds to five), and that shock light heavyweight title victory over Torres. Over the next 18 months he picked up a return win over Torres and a 12th round stoppage over mandatory contender Roger Rouse. His career seemed over when he was knocked out in four rounds by Bob Foster and yet he returned to outpoint Frankie De Paula in The Ring’s 1968 Fight of the Year, and followed this with wins over middleweight champion Nino Benvenuti and light heavyweight contender Andy Kendall. He retired at 41 after losing a return with Griffith.

Films show Tiger as an aggressive boxer-puncher. His defence was tight, his head movement excellent. He was immensely strong, always superbly conditioned and he had one of the firmest chins in middleweight history. While not a one punch blastout artist, he was heavy-handed – a solid, draining puncher who was particularly adept at working the body. His record shows 17 or 18 losses (depending on whose version you accept) but at least 11 were legitimately disputed. He struggled with quick moving, defensive boxers, although he beat several of them. Victories over fellow world champions Downes, Giardello, Fullmer, Torres and Benvenuti and top contenders like Florentino Fernandez, Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and Henry Hank place him comfortably within the top 20 middleweights of all time, and perhaps even the top ten.

Makinde’s book also reveals him as a fine human being – intelligent, and resourceful, with a deep self-pride and a profound commitment to his people. Unlike so many boxers of his time and ours, he was a virtual teetotaller who always trained hard, never cut corners and avoided trouble outside the ring, except when it came to his battle against the Nigerian military regime in the late 1960s. Dick Tiger is a compelling and inspiring read, that will certainly appeal to anyone with an interest in boxing history, African history, or both.

Source: Gavin Evans (The Fist boxing magazine, July 2006. Australia)   /  See also: Tribute to a boxing legend

posted 17 July 2006

Adeyinka Makinde is Nigerian by birth and British by nationality. He was born August 1966 at Yaba Military Hospital, the fourth child of Lt. Emmanuel Oladipo Makinde and Grace Makinde. He was named 'Adeyinka' (Ade yi mi ka) which means "crowns surround me."

As a child he was always surrounded by books and have always held a fascination for the written word. His main interests were in biographies of historical figures and histories of nations. He has been a student of boxing for a long time and the story of the boxer Richard Ihetu, better known by his ring cognomen Dick Tiger.

He relocated to England in 1980 were he completed 'O' Levels and 'A' Levels. In between these, he obtained a National Diploma in Business Finance. He read Law at the Polytechnic of North London graduating, with honours, in 1989. In the autumn of that year, he enrolled on to the inaugural Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law. He was subsequently called to the Bar at the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple.

Since then he has worked as a Law Lecturer at a number of colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and as a Company In-House Counsel. He is the Managing Director of his company, the Law Academy Ltd. Along the way he married and has two beautiful daughters. In many ways, he feels that he is about to 'take-off' and fulfill his manifest destiny: To secure the future of his children and to contribute in a meaningful manner to the development of his country of origin and indeed to any community within which he lives.

A student of boxing, Adeyinka has written many articles and match reports for a number of boxing sites on the World Wide Web including cyberboxingzone.com. He has also contributed to the journal, African Renaissance.

Other links: http://www.authorsden.com/adeyinkamakinde / http://www.writers.net/writers/48245 / adeyinkamakinde/page2.html

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011
 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 18 October 2007 

 

 

 

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