A Clare man who won the World Light Heavyweight Title 100 years ago this year, will have a monument in his honour unveiled this Saturday.
Kilnamona’s Mike McTigue is truly one of Clare’s all time sporting heroes and is a distant relative of well-known sculptor and name-sake Michael McTigue.
McTigue won his world title on St Patrick’s Day 1923 on points over a fighter named Battling Siki from Senegal. Somehow however, the memory of that famous win has faded with time.
Despite the Irish Civil War still ongoing, the fight was held in La Scala Opera House in Prince’s Street, Dublin. McTigue, nicknamed ‘The Cyclonic Celt’, won on points after 20 rounds to become World Light Heavyweight Champion. “Bold” Mike McTigue was the light heavyweight boxing champion of the world from 1923-1925.
Born in 1892, Mike McTigue emigrated to America while still a young man. On the other side of the Atlantic, he worked on the docks in New York. It’s understood that McTigue’s fighting talent was discovered when he was occasionally found brawling around the docks.
Some footage of McTigue’s famous fight can be seen on YouTube, but a more extensive recording has come to light after much research.
Michael McTigue said: “I have a friend, John Fitzpatrick, in the Bronx and I’d go over to visit him. I always knew of this fight and that it was recorded so we set about finding. We ended up in Manhattan at a company called the Big Fights Incorporated. They had it and they owned the rights.
“I got a hold of someone and they said it’s a very well-known fight. I said I’m related, and he brought us in and showed it on a reel to reel thing. After about a year of cajoling them and nagging them they agreed to give us a copy provided we wouldn’t show it in public.”
In total McTigue fought 174 times as a professional, and finally retired in 1930. After retirement he ran a bar on Long Island, but suffered from bad health in later years and was confined to hospital. He passed away in 1966, and was survived by his wife and two daughters.
This Saturday, 100 years and a day after McTigue’s famous bout, a monument will be unveiled at Kilnamona Cross.
Sculptor Michael McTigue said: “Kilnamona cross is the focal point of the parish and think it’ll be the first significant thing any tourist will see when they are headed for Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction. It’ll make Kilnamona a gateway apart from anything else. It’s an ideal place to give him the prominence he deserves, having been neglected for so long. A lot of people don’t even know about him.”