6. 1923 – Mike McTigue W 20 Battling Siki, La Scala Theatre, Dublin, Ireland – World light heavyweight championship
To describe Siki as “colorful,” would be like calling Eva Mendes “cute.” Siki stuffed three lifetimes’ worth of chaos into his 28 years on earth. Born in Senegal, he moved to France and began a boxing career at age 15. When World War I erupted Siki joined the French Army and earned the Croix de Guerre after single-handedly destroying a machine-gun post. After resuming his career, he worked his way to a shot at light heavyweight champion and fellow war hero Georges Carpentier. According to Siki, he intended to throw the bout but changed his mind after Carpentier struck him after the third round bell. Three rounds later Siki was champion, but only after the referee was forced by public demand to change his initial ruling of Carpentier via disqualification.
Siki’s reign was audacious to say the least. He often walked in public with two lions on leashes and when he felt he wasn’t being granted the proper attention he pulled out his pistol and fired bullets in the air. His notorious reputation was such that the British boxing authorities nixed a potential title bout with Joe Beckett. True to form, the volatile and impulsive Siki then made the most foolhardy managerial decision in boxing history – he would defend his light heavyweight championship against Irishman Mike McTigue, in Dublin, on St. Patrick’s Day, at the height of the Irish Civil War.
With the sound of gunfire and grenades echoing in the background, McTigue piled up points with his educated jab and out-pointed a generally disinterested Siki over 20 boring rounds. Despite the appearance of a stacked deck, McTigue’s decision victory was justified but Siki’s decision-making skills were anything but.