Stephen Tangstad, Boxing | Heller Steven Tangstad: – I don't think Norwegians understand how difficult it is

Stephen Tangstad, Boxing |  Heller Steven Tangstad: – I don't think Norwegians understand how difficult it is

Steven Tangstad of Tønsberg was considered Norway's best boxer of all time. He died on Wednesday evening at the age of 65. Egil Vik Soby, also from Tønsberg, was part of the team when Tangstad was due to fight for the title in the United States.

– I have only good memories of Steven Tangstad, he was a nice person and we had a great experience together in the USA, says Sobe (79 years old) to Nettavisen.

Read also: Boxing legend Steven Tangstad dies

Inspired by “Rocky”

Sobie was there as an assistant coach and team leader as Tangstad prepared for the Las Vegas bout and encounter with black heavyweight boxer Michael Spinks in 1986, a fight for the IBF title. Harald Svendsen was Tangstad's boxing coach, while Søby focused on strength, fitness and motivation. Before that, the team spent a month and a half at Morset Mountain Farm in the Eidfjord municipality of Hardangervidda, a training stay that Sobey says was inspired by the “Rocky” films with Sylvester Stallone.

– Hardangervidda was Tangstad's idea. Soby says he was inspired by that film.

– Sports talents

Sobe recalls that he noticed Tangstad and his athletic talent already when Tangstad was involved in swimming and athletics as a young boy. Sobe was an athlete himself, winning an Olympic gold medal in rowing (the “four gold medals”) in 1968 and a bronze in 1972.

– When the USA match became the main topic, he called me and said we should meet. “I need to talk to you,” he said, but didn't say what it was. We met at Slottsfjellet in Tonsberg and rehearsed. He told me that he had received an offer to meet Michael Spinks and asked me if I thought he should accept. “I think you should,” I replied. But I set a condition. I told him that every time he was asked, he had to answer that he went to the United States to win. That was the mental part, Subi told Netavisen.

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Regarding the training camp in Hardangervidda beforehand, he recalls that Tangstad showed amazing fitness.

– I don't know his boxing style, but I remember his physical fitness. We ran four 1000m laps, and we had three minutes each. That's a good time for a heavyweight boxer, says Sobey.

Lost by technical knockout

Tangstad lost the title fight in Las Vegas by technical knockout, but made headlines at home and in the USA that the Norwegian should try heavyweight boxing in the USA. In Norway there was a ban on professional boxing. It was only canceled in 2014.

“There were big posters with Tangstad’s picture on them. It said Tangstad had come to the United States to meet Michael Spinks. ‘I just hope I don’t hurt him,’ the posters read,” Sobie recalls with a laugh.

– I have participated in three Olympics, but being able to participate in Las Vegas, in professional heavyweight boxing, I don't think Norwegians understand how difficult it is, says Sobe.

Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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