Battling Siki

Louis Mbarick Fall (September 16, 1897 – December 15, 1925), known as Battling Siki, was a French-Senegalese light heavyweight boxer born in Senegal who fought from 1912 to 1925, and briefly reigned as the World light heavyweight champion after knocking out Georges Carpentier.

Battling Siki
BattlingSiki.jpg
Battling Siki
Born(1897-09-16)September 16, 1897
Saint-Louis, Senegal
DiedDecember 15, 1925(1925-12-15) (aged 28)
OccupationBoxer

Early yearsEdit

He was born in the port city of Saint-Louis, Senegal. While still a teenager, Siki changed his name, and moved to metropolitan France, where, by the age of 15, he began his professional boxing career. Siki's early years were inauspicious. From 1912 to 1914 he compiled a record of just eight wins, six losses and two draws.

When World War I erupted, Siki joined the French army, serving in the 8th Colonial Infantry Regiment. During the war he was decorated for bravery in battle with the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille Militaire, before being honorably discharged.[1]

Post-war careerEdit

After his discharge from the military, Siki resumed his boxing career. In October and November 1920 Siki boxed two matches in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He was romantically involved with a Dutch woman, Lijntje van Appelteer, who became his common-law wife. On December 16, 1921, she bore him a son, Louis Junior.[2] In this period he taught boxing at the amateur boxing club De Jonge Bokser (The Young Boxer).

From November 1, 1919, until he faced Georges Carpentier for the world light heavyweight championship in 1922, Siki compiled the impressive record of 43 wins in 46 bouts (21 KOs), suffering just one loss (on a decision) and two draws. Carpentier, the reigning World and European champion, agreed to fight Siki for the title, and they met in Paris, France, on September 24, 1922.

Siki claimed that he had agreed to take a dive, but when Carpentier dropped Siki, the outraged African decided to get up and fight. Although he had agreed to throw the fight, he did not intend to get beat up doing so.

In the sixth round Siki hit Carpentier with a powerful right uppercut that appeared to put Carpentier down and out for the count. The referee, however, claimed Siki had tripped Carpentier, and awarded the bout to the unconscious champion on a foul. Fearing a riot from the aroused crowd, the three ringside judges overruled the referee, and Siki was eventually declared the champion.

Siki then embarked on a well publicized rampage of partying and carousing. He would walk his pet lion down the Champs-Élysées while wearing his top hat and tuxedo. Siki was known to fire his revolvers in the air in public as a means of prompting his two Great Danes to do tricks. He was constantly reported drinking champagne in night clubs, and spent freely on flashy clothes and partying. He was fond of white women, and both his wives were white.

During this time offers poured in from the United States for the colorful Siki to meet the leading heavyweight contender Harry Wills, middleweight champion Johnny Wilson, and the legendary Harry Greb. Attempts were even made to match Siki with the then reigning heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey.

 
Siki photographed in March 1923 with Eugene Stuber at the Claremont Hotel, Howth, Dublin

Instead, Siki signed to defend his title against Irish light heavyweight Mike McTigue on Saint Patrick's Day in Dublin. The bout was controversial and Siki lost his belt on decision and lost the title.[3] This defeat was the first loss in a downward trend of dissipation and poor ring performances suffered by Siki, which culminated in his death a little over a month after his last fight.

After the world titleEdit

After losing his European title on a foul, Siki moved to the United States. His record in the States was poor and he failed to defeat any top-notch fighters. His failure to train properly was evident; his record after winning the title was a dismal 11 wins (7 KOS), 17 losses, 1 draw and 2 no contests. It was during this time period that he suffered the only two knockout defeats of his career. On July 23, he married artist Lillian Werner of Memphis, Tennessee, who was seven years his senior, in a civil marriage. Werner was registered as white, making theirs a rare mixed-race marriage at the time. At the time of his wedding, friends of Siki from France alleged that he was still married to a Dutch woman living in France who had born him a child two years earlier.[4]

Even in the States Siki continued to carouse and train on booze and street brawls. Often, he would get drunk in speakeasies, refuse to pay the tab, and fight his way out.

 
Commemorative plaque in Saint-Louis

Murder and burialEdit

On December 15, 1925, he was stopped by a policeman who saw him staggering drunk on 42nd Street, not far from his apartment in New York City. Siki stated that he was on his way home, and walked off. Later he was found lying face down, shot twice in the back at close range, dead at the age of 28.

The Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, the father of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., presided over his funeral, which was held in Harlem, New York. He was survived by his widow Lillian Werner Phal, whom he had married a year earlier.[5]

He was initially buried at Flushing Cemetery, in an unmarked grave.[6] There were brief ceremonies held in the Flushing Cemetery on 46th Ave and was participated in by representatives of the Senegalese government and of the African Boxing Union: a headstone was dedicated here by the International Veterans Boxing Association.[6] Cherif Djigo, first consul at the Senegalese Mission to the United Nations, stated "This stone represents to us a grand symbol that Battling Siki has not been forgotten".[6] His body was repatriated to Senegal in 1993.[7]

TriviaEdit

  • Battling Siki vs. Carpentier was viewed by a young Ernest Hemingway.
  • Battling Siki was also the name of one of Che Guevara's commanders.

Professional boxing recordEdit

Professional record summary
91 fights 60 wins 24 losses
By knockout 31 4
By decision 26 16
By disqualification 3 4
Draws 4
Newspaper decisions/draws 3
All Newspaper decisions are regarded as “no decision” bouts as they have “resulted in neither boxer winning or losing, and would therefore not count as part of their official fight record."
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
91 Loss 60–24–4 (3)   Lee Anderson PTS 12 Nov 13, 1925   104th Regiment Armory, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
90 Loss 60–23–4 (3)   Billy Vidabeck NWS 10 Aug 18, 1925   Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States
89 Loss 60–23–4 (2)   Joe Silvani DQ 8 (12) Aug 08, 1925   Commonwealth Sporting Club, New York City, New York, United States
88 Win 60–22–4 (2)   Jimmy Francis KO 2 (8) Jul 23, 1925   Playgrounds Stadium, West New York, New Jersey, United States
87 Win 59–22–4 (2)   Chief Halbran KO 3 (12) Jul 10, 1925   Steeplechase A.A., Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York City, New York, United States
86 Loss 58–22–4 (2)   Art Weigand PTS 6 Jun 25, 1925   Bison Stadium, Buffalo, New York, United States
85 Loss 58–21–4 (2)   Paul Berlenbach TKO 10 (12) Mar 13, 1925   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States
84 Loss 58–20–4 (2)   Jack Burke PTS 12 Dec 04, 1924   Clermont Avenue Rink, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, United States
83 Draw 58–19–4 (2)   Frank Kearns PTS 10 Nov 27, 1924   Arena, Syracuse, New York, United States
82 Loss 58–19–3 (2)   Tony Marullo PTS 12 Nov 14, 1924   Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, United States
81 Win 58–18–3 (2)   Roscoe Hall TKO 6 (10) Nov 07, 1924   Passaic Armory, Passaic, New Jersey, United States
80 Loss 57–18–3 (2)   Mike Conroy TKO 8 (10) Aug 20, 1924   Lorain, Ohio, United States
79 Loss 57–17–3 (2)   Homer Smith PTS 10 Aug 11, 1924   Bison Stadium, Buffalo, New York, United States
78 Win 57–16–3 (2)   Dixie Kid RTD 3 (10) Aug 04, 1924   Fair Grounds Arena, Allentown, Pennsylvania, United States Not to be confused with Dixie Kid
77 Loss 56–16–3 (2)   Sergeant Jack Lynch PTS 10 Aug 02, 1924   Clinton Oval, Woonsocket, Rhode Islan, United States
76 Win 56–15–3 (2)   Blacksmith Russell KO 7 (10) Jul 18, 1924   Textile Field, Manchester, New Hampshire, United States
75 Win 55–15–3 (2)   Ray Bennett NWS 12 Jul 11, 1924   Bellaire, Ohio, United States
74 Loss 55–15–3 (1)   Tut Jackson PTS 10 Feb 14, 1924   Fort Hayes Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States
73 Win 55–14–3 (1)   Joe White PTS 10 Feb 08, 1924   Rochester, New York, United States
72 Loss 54–14–3 (1)   Joe Lohman NWS 10 Jan 31, 1924   Kenwood Armory, Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
71 Loss 54–14–3   Battling Owens PTS 15 Jan 21, 1924   Louisiana Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
70 Win 54–13–3   Young Norfolk PTS 8 Jan 14, 1924   Southern A.C., Memphis, Tennessee, United States
69 Win 53–13–3   Tony Stabenau KO 2 (10) Jan 07, 1924   Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo, New York, United States
68 Loss 52–13–3   Jack Taylor PTS 10 Dec 25, 1923   Adelphia A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
67 Loss 52–12–3   Kid Norfolk PTS 15 Nov 20, 1923   Madison Square Garden, New York, United States
66 Win 52–11–3   Gaston Marmouget KO 3 (12) Aug 05, 1923   Arènes du Bouscat, Bordeaux, France
65 Win 51–11–3   Marcel Nilles KO 2 (15) Jul 08, 1923   Stade Buffalo, Montrouge, France
64 Loss 50–11–3   Emile Morelle DQ 6 (20) Jun 16, 1923   Velodrome d'Hiver, Paris, France
63 Loss 50–10–3   Mike McTigue PTS 20 Mar 17, 1923   La Scala Theatre, Dublin, Ireland Lost NBA and NYSAC light heavyweight-titles
62 Win 50–9–3   Georges Carpentier KO 6 (20) Sep 24, 1922   Stade Buffalo, Montrouge, France Won NBA, NYSAC, and IBU light-heavyweight titles;
Won IBU heavyweight title
61 Win 49–9–3   Harry Reeve TKO 6 (15) Jul 27, 1922   Marseille, France
60 Win 48–9–3   Hans Dressler TKO 5 (6) Jul 23, 1922   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
59 Win 47–9–3   Marcel Nilles PTS 15 Jun 23, 1922   Velodrome d'Hiver, Paris, France
58 Draw 46–9–3   Harry Reeve PTS 10 May 19, 1922   Hippodrome-paleis, Antwerpen, Belgium
57 Win 46–9–2   Harry Reeve PTS 10 May 11, 1922   Theater Carré, Amsterdam, Netherlands
56 Win 45–9–2   Alfred Baker PTS 12 Apr 26, 1922   Frontón Condal, Barcelona, Spain
55 Win 44–9–2   Louis Piochelle PTS 12 Apr 16, 1922   Stade Municipal, Algiers, Algeria
54 Win 43–9–2   Martinus Vige TKO 6 (10) Mar 31, 1922   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
53 Win 42–9–2   Frank Hoche PTS 10 Mar 23, 1922   Iris Park, Barcelona, Spain
52 Win 41–9–2   Alphonse Rogiers PTS 10 Mar 15, 1922   Salle de Trocadero, Brussels, Belgium
51 Win 40–9–2   Jules Lenaers TKO 2 (15) Mar 03, 1922   Palais des Fêtes, Strasbourg, France
50 Win 39–9–2   Iter TKO 2 (?) Feb 02, 1922   Palais des Fêtes, Strasbourg, France
49 Win 38–9–2   Alphonse Rogiers PTS 12 Jan 17, 1922   Cirque de Paris, Paris, France
48 Win 37–9–2   Paul Journee PTS 15 Dec 03, 1921   Velodrome d'Hiver, Paris, France
47 Win 36–9–2   Jean Leroi KO 2 (20) Oct 21, 1921   Magic City, Paris, France
46 Win 35–9–2   Jean Leroi TKO 2 (20) Oct 21, 1921   Magic City, Paris, France
45 Win 34–9–2   Battling Marcot TKO 5 (15) Oct 02, 1921   Arènes des Amidonniers, Toulouse, France
44 Win 33–9–2   Ercole De Balzac DQ 2 (20) Sep 21, 1921   Salle Wagram, Paris, France
43 Win 32–9–2   Constant Barrick PTS 10 Aug 21, 1921   Arènes du Rond-Point du Prado, Marseille, France
42 Win 31–9–2   Gabriel Pionnier TKO 7 (15) Jul 02, 1921   Salle Wagram, Paris, France
41 Win 30–9–2   Harry Reeve PTS 10 Jun 14, 1921   De Doelen, Rotterdam, Netherlands
40 Win 29–9–2   Jeff DePaus PTS 10 Apr 29, 1921   Antwerpen, Belgium
39 Win 28–9–2   Hugo Podzuhn TKO 10 (15) Mar 15, 1921   Sagebiel, Germany
38 Win 27–9–2   Giuseppe Spalla RTD 9 (15) Feb 25, 1921   Zirkus Busch, Mitte, Germany
37 Win 26–9–2   Bertus Ahaus PTS 10 Feb 05, 1921   Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
36 Win 25–9–2   Herman Sjouwerman PTS 10 Jan 19, 1921   Paleis voor Volksvlijt, Amsterdam, Netherlands
35 Win 24–9–2   Hans Breitenstraeter PTS 15 Jan 14, 1921   Admiralspalast, Mitte, Germany
34 Win 23–9–2   Jeff DePaus PTS 10 Dec 04, 1920   Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
33 Win 22–9–2   Nicol Simpson KO 1 (15) Oct 25, 1920   Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Netherlands
32 Loss 21–9–2   Tom Berry PTS 15 Aug 30, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
31 Win 21–8–2   Tom Berry PTS 10 Jun 17, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
30 Win 20–8–2   Willem Westbroek TKO 5 (10) Jun 04, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
29 Win 19–8–2   Daan Holtkamp KO 2 (10) Jun 27, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
28 Win 18–8–2   Bertus Ahaus PTS 10 June 13, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
27 Win 17–8–2   Jimmy Lyggett Sr. PTS 10 May 29, 1920   Cirque de Paris, Paris, France
26 Win 16–8–2   Willem Westbroek KO 7 (10) May 02, 1920   Circus Schouwburg, Rotterdam, Netherlands
25 Win 15–8–2   Rene De Vos PTS 10 April 28, 1920   Cirque de Paris, Paris, France
24 Win 14–8–2   Jeff DePaus PTS 15 Apr 16, 1920   Antwerpen, Belgium
23 Win 13–8–2   Victor Marchand KO 8 (15) April 09, 1920   Nouveau Cirque, Paris, France
22 Win 12–8–2   Maurice Lefevre PTS 10 April 02, 1920   Nouveau Cirque, Paris, France
21 Win 11–8–2   Leon Derensy KO 3 (10) Mar 26, 1920   Nouveau Cirque, Paris, France
20 Win 10–8–2   Jean Audouy TKO 4 (?) Feb 16, 1920   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
19 Win 9–8–2   Billy Henrys PTS 12 Jan 12, 1920   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
18 Loss 8–8–2   Felix Leonard PTS 10 Dec 29, 1919   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
17 Win 8–7–2   Eugene Stuber TKO 2 (10) Dec 08, 1919   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
16 Win 7–7–2   Frank Roose DQ 9 (10) May 12, 1918   Arènes des Amidonniers, Toulouse, France
15 Loss 6–7–2   Eugene Tajan DQ 7 (?) July 12, 1914   Place Lamourguier, Narbonne, France
14 Loss 6–6–2   Jules Perroud PTS 10 June 20, 1914   Salle du Jardin Royal, Toulouse, France
13 Win 6–5–2   Jules Perroud DQ 8 (10) June 04, 1914   Salle du Jardin Royal, Toulouse, France
12 Win 5–5–2   Pierre Nicolas KO 2 (10) Feb 19, 1914   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
11 Loss 4–5–2   Jean Audouy PTS 10 Feb 07, 1914   Salle des Fêtes, Narbonne, France
10 Win 4–4–2   Frank Roose PTS 10 Jan 08, 1914   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
9 Win 3–4–2   Frank Roose PTS 10 Dec 16, 1913   Théâtre des Nouveautés, Toulouse, France
8 Win 2–4–2   Georges Carr TKO 3 (?) Nov 29, 1913   Toulouse, France
7 Win 1–4–2   Georges Bert TKO 3 (?) May 18, 1913   Montreuil, France
6 Loss 0–4–2   Bill Henrys DQ 3 (?) May 03, 1913   Eldorado-Casino, Marseille, France
5 Loss 0–3–2   Francois Servat PTS 8 Mar 27, 1913   Comoedia-Cinéma, Marseille, France
4 Draw 0–2–2   Fernard Pratt PTS 8 Mar 13, 1912   Comoedia-Cinéma, Marseille, France
3 Draw 0–2–1   Mario Gall PTS 8 Dec 16, 1912   France
2 Loss 0–2   Jean Chayne TKO 2 (?) Oct 20, 1912   Stand Bènes, Saint-Laurent-du-Var, France
1 Loss 0–1   Louis Maria RTD 2 (6) Oct 13, 1912   Stand du Pré-du-Lac, Châteauneuf-Grasse, France

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Lardener, John "Who Shot Battling Siki? The Life And Murder Of A Prizefighter", Deadspin, June 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Benson, Peter, "Battling Siki: A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race, and Murder in the 1920s", p. 140.
  3. ^ ESPN - McTigue a part of St. Patrick's Day folklore - Boxing at sports.espn.go.com
  4. ^ "BATTLING SIKI WEDS WHITE WOMAN HERE: Paris Friends of Senegalese Say Prizefighter Is Already Married to Dutch Girl", The New York Times, July 24, 1924.
  5. ^ "BATTLING SIKI SHOT DEAD IN THE STREET: Negro Pugilist Who Knocked Out Carpentier Murdered From Behind When Intoxicated. TWO BULLETS IN HIS BODY". The New York Times. May 26, 1925.
  6. ^ a b c Oreskes, Michael (August 7, 1976). "A Crown for an Ex-Champ: Dead Fighter Honored After 50 Years". Daily News.
  7. ^ Anderson, Dave (March 28, 1993). "Sports of The Times; Battling Siki Finally on His Way Back Home". The New York Times.
  • Benson, Peter (2006). Battling Siki:A Tale of Ring Fixes, Race and Murder in the 1920s. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. ISBN 1-55728-888-7.
  • Bregstein, Philo (1999). Herinnering aan Joods Amsterdam. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij. ISBN 90-234-3390-4.

External linksEdit

Achievements
Preceded by
Georges Carpentier
World Light Heavyweight Champion
24 September 1922 – 17 March 1923
Succeeded by
Mike McTigue
Light Heavyweight record
Preceded by
Bob Fitzsimmons
52
Shortest Living World Champion
28

December 15, 1925 – present
Incumbent