Biography of Boxer Battling Siki or Louis Phal Part 2

About the footnote athlete Battling Siki or Louis Phal, history and biography of the boxers.


Battling Siki

Unable to make a living in France, Siki accepted an offer to fight Michael Francis McTigue in Dublin on Saint Patrick's Day, 1923. At one point during the match, Siki threatened to murder Carpentier, who showed up at ringside to taunt him. He lost the fight, his title, and his chance at Carpentier all in the same night.

Siki came to America in September and found that he could make money in the ring when he needed it. His abilities quickly disintegrated with the help of bootleg gin and whiskey, but the fight crowds enjoyed his style and antics. Most of all, they were charmed by his extraordinary behavior out of the ring.

Siki often directed traffic in Times Square while dressed in formal evening attire, complete with cape, gloves, cane, and monocle. He would squirt a water gun at people on the street, throw handfuls of money to crowds, and scatter bags of peanuts along Broadway.

Siki once gave away all the money in his pockets to fellow passengers on a ferryboat from New Jersey. From time to time, he would give away all the stylish clothing on his back and return home by taxi in his underwear.

Arriving in Memphis for a fight, Siki was enraged that he wasn't met at the station and that his arrival had gone unannounced in the press. His manager patiently explained that there was no publicity for blacks in the South. Incensed, Siki bought an enormous bunch of bananas and began tossing them to people on the streets while singing "Yes, We Have No Bananas." The police arrested him, but Siki made the front page and filled the arena. He won the fight, too.

Back in New York, Siki's fortunes fell, and he was forced to move into a cheap apartment in Hell's Kitchen, a slum on the West Side. Police warned him that the Kitchen was a rough neighborhood, but Siki replied, "Nobody hurt Siki. All like Siki. Siki him have good heart. Siki help everybody."

But as he fought less frequently in the ring, he took to fighting in the streets and drinking heavily. His favorite joke was hailing a cab, taking a ride, and then challenging the driver to fight for the fare. He also became embroiled in several heated amateur bouts in the Times Square subway station.

In August, 1925, he was found stabbed in the back and was taken to a hospital. When a reporter came by for a story. Siki leaped out of bed, slung the reporter over his shoulder, and ran out into the street. He dropped the reporter in the gutter, hailed a cab, and rode home.

He was also known for walking into night-clubs drunk and smashing them up. After one such incident, on the morning of Dec. 15, 1925, he was found in the street, dead, with two bullets in his back. Battling Siki was 28 years old. His murder was never solved.

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