Mike McTigue, left, and Battling Siki exchange punches during their St. Patrick Day’s fight in 1923 in Dublin. Getty Images

Most of the fans were already inside La Scala Theatre when a bomb exploded on nearby Moore Lane, sending shards of glass from the hall’s skylight raining down. It was March 17, 1923, and the Irish Civil War was raging in the streets of Dublin.

Machine gun and rifle fire, augmented by the ground-shaking thump of explosions, provided the soundtrack for a city under siege by its own people. Yet despite the carnage that was part of daily life, a boxing match between light heavyweight champion Battling Siki and challenger Mike McTigue was welcomed as a distraction from the hardships of war.

That Siki, a Frenchman from Senegal, lost the title by a questionable 20-round decision to an Irishman in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day has become a boxing metaphor for managerial absurdity. How could Siki and his manager, Charles Brouillet, even consider such a setup? The answer is simple: They needed the money.

A more recent example of the perils of fighting an Irishman in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day came in 1995, when Englishman Chris Eubank lost the super middleweight title he’d held since 1990 to Steve Collins. Eubank knocked down Collins in Round 10 but still lost a unanimous decision.

The luck of the Irish hadn’t always been with the native son on St. Patrick’s Day, however. Twelve years before Siki-McTigue, heavyweight champion Tommy Burns of Canada knocked out Irishman Jem Roche in just 88 seconds.

Over the decades, St. Patrick’s Day boxing has become a tradition, especially in the United States, the home of millions of Irish-Americans. The fights don’t necessarily have to be on March 17; anything close will do.

As a marketing tool, St. Patrick’s Day is perfect. First, a hell of a lot of folks will be in a good mood, ready to party. A couple of pints of Guinness loosens the purse strings. Bars and restaurants do overflow business. Almost anything Kelly green with a shamrock plastered on it sells. Boxing is a natural.

Top Rank, which has promoted a number of St. Patrick’s Day shows, will have its next one on Sunday, March 17, when featherweight Michael Conlan (10-0, 6 KOs) faces Mexico’s Ruben Garcia Hernandez (24-3-2, 10 KOs) over 10 rounds at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.



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