History | Aug 10 2014

On This Day: Dick Tiger ends the career of Gene Fullmer

Dick Tiger confirms supremacy over Gene Fullmer on August 10 1963, writes Thomas Georgiou
Tiger-Fullmer

ON this day in 1963 Dick Tiger defended his world middleweight title against American Gene Fullmer, their third meeting, at the Liberty Stadium, in Ibadan Nigeria, Tiger’s home nation.

  1. HEADING into this fight Fullmer had gained notoriety from his four fights with the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all-time, Sugar Ray Robinson. Fullmer boasted a 2-1-1 record over Robinson winning the first and last meetings between the pair.
  1. TEN months before their third fight, in Candlestick Park, California, Fullmer would defend his world titles against Tiger for the first time. Tiger, who lost the first four fights of his career, all against English opposition, entered the fight with a record of 45-14-2.
  1. IN front of a crowd of 11,600 Tiger beat Fullmer via unanimous decision to capture the world middleweight titles and handed Fullmer only his fifth career defeat.
  1. FOUR months later the rematch took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and after 15 hard fought blood-drenched rounds Tiger retained his championship when the fight ended in a draw.
  1. A THIRD and final fight was set in Nigeria, on August 10 1963. A crowd of over 35,000 produced a gate of $250,000. Tiger was guaranteed $100,000 and Fullmer $60,000.The rubber match ended after Gene Fullmer retired in his corner in round seven.
  1. THIS would be Fullmer’s final fight; he would end with a career record of 55-6-3. After hanging up his gloves Fullmer appeared in a cameo role in the 1968 film The Devil’s Brigade as a Montana bartender.
  1. TIGER would go on to fight and beat Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Tiger floored Rubin three timess en-route to a unanimous decision, and would retire with a record of 60-19-3 cementing his legacy as one of the greatest fighters to come out of Africa.
  1. TIGER was banned from returning to Nigeria because of his involvement in the Biafran movement, which lead to the Nigerian civil war.
  1. TIGER was appointed CBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, but he returned his insignia as a protest for what he perceived as a lack of support by Great Britain to the Biafran cause.
  2. AFTER retiring Tiger took a job as a security guard at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. While working he felt strong pains in his back. He got tested by doctors and was diagnosed with liver cancer, an illness which would end his life at only 42 years of age on December 14 1971.

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