Henry Tiller

Henry Tiller (1914-1999) is one of several great sports heroes from the Lademoen district of the city. Henry grew up in this typical working-class district in Gregusgate, and was still living there well into the 1970s. He grew up in hard times, but the community spirit was a valuable resource. He attended Lademoen School, and in his spare time sports activities were important to him. Henry was a member of "Ravn" [sports club Raven], and his forte during his boyhood was running and endurance. After school, at the age of 15, he started to work as an errand boy with Bøndenes salgslag [farmers' cooperative], and the meat trade would become Tiller's vocational career later in life.
In 1930 the Norwegian championship in boxing was arranged in Trondheim (Nidaros), and in the wake of this the interest in boxing grew in the town. The B-30 boxing club was formed, and Henry was one of the first to join the environment around the training premises in Søndregate 6. Tiller quickly demonstrated his talent for the sport. The next year he had already won the Norwegian flyweight championships, and he was soon established as one of the best boxers in Norway. The peak of his career came when he qualified for the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. Here he lost the final bout against the Frenchman Jean Despeaux, who it was believed by many had had an easier fight programme leading to the final. The mood was jubilant in the stadium in Trondheim the following year, when thousands saw the home hero win a revenge bout against Despeaux.
During these years he won five Norwegian championships, in addition to innumerable important international victories. Tiller's forte was strength, stamina and a methodical series of hits, rather than finely honed technique. In the period from 1935 to 1940 he only lost four of 82 bouts! Most of the victories came on points, so Tiller was no typical knockout boxer.
In 1940 he turned professional. The boxing circle had an unresolved relation to the official sports boycott during the war, and Tiller boxed in matches until well into 1941. Because of this he was excluded by the sports association in 1945, and thus his official career ended. But even up to 1959 he went some rounds in a demonstration bout in Trondheim against the heavyweight world champion himself, Ingemar "Ingo" Johansson, and held his own! The well-loved boy from Lademoen (a "lamonitt") continued to inspire sports- and boxing-interested youths most of his life.
Recommended reading: Henry Tiller: Ringen klar! [The ring awaits] 1941.

  
  
  
 

Author: Einar Rædergård