Jab Hook’s Boxing in Art



Jab Hook’s Boxing in Art

The Painting:

“Battling Siki” 1914 –1915 Oil on canvas, hangs in the Centraal Museum Collection, Utrecht.
Originally titled “The Negro Boxer”, it was renamed “Battling Siki” in 2018 after the “Words matter” public debate in the Netherlands.

The Painter:

Isaac Israël (1865 –1934) was among the artists of the Amsterdam Impressionist movement. A prodigy, he was gifted and was considered as “too good” among the 19th century Dutch art establishment. His work speaks for itself. Just take to some time to look at that boxing painting. Israël bestows respect upon his subject in “Battling Siki”. As the rich men ringside stare at him, Siki sits on his stool, relaxing between rounds. All alone, his cornerman lost somewhere in the smoky room, probably taking more bets from the crowd…

The Boxer:
Amadou M’Barick Fall “Battling Siki” (September 16, 1897 – December 15, 1925)

This amazing painting is from ~1915, before WWI and very early in Siki's career when he was still a teenager. Escaping poverty as a boy, he stowed away to Paris where, as the story goes, a rich matron sponsored him. He became a legendary French-Senegalese light heavyweight who fought from 1912 to 1925, and briefly reigned as the World light heavyweight champion after knocking out Georges Carpentier on September 24, 1922. He was a very successful boxer who lived a flashy, extravagant European lifestyle in the “Roaring 20's”. “Battling Siki” moved to New York after losing his European title and he swiftly declined as a boxer due to his nightlife distractions in the big city. He was murdered at the age of 28 y.o. in Manhattan on his way home from a drunken binge, two bullets in his back.

“Jab Hook”, aka “Brooklyn” Joe Healy is boxing expert commentator for, a professional cutman from the BOXWERK gym, and a licensed referee/judge in amateur boxing. A lifelong aficionado born in Brooklyn and living in Munich, “The Sweet Science” is his passion. Please feel free to contact him as Jab Hook on FaceBook, at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoxAficionado.