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Interview: Borge Krogh
One of four fighting brothers and often referred to as the best ring technician to ever emerge from Denmark, Borge (the closest thing to his real name, Børge) Krogh won the European lightweight championship from Maurice Tavant in 1966 and retired from the ring in '71 with a record of 43-8-5 (9). After that he became a trainer, and he and his brother Kjeld (who's still active in this field) worked with Ayub Kalule and Racheed Lawal, among others. While boxing, he underwent education to become a teacher, and today he's the principal of (and teaches math at) Klostermarksskolen, a medium-sized ground school situated in a quiet part of his native Aalborg, a town with about 160.000 citizens in northern Jutland.
Borge Krogh greets me and we sit down in his nice, bright office. My first question is if he's still involved in boxing, and he tells me that he he's not, except a stint with "Jyden" (his old amateur club) he's not had anything to do with the sport the last couple of years. The reason for this is the development the in amateurs; Krogh feels that the new computer scoring makes the sport something else than what he likes it for, it depriciates the technical aspects of it and rewards brutality, and furthermore he doubts the real safety value of wearing helmets. Later on, as we discuss the general state of boxing, in both the amateur and professional ranks today, he tells me that he likes the changes there have been made in the pro ranks more than those among the amateurs.
One thing bugs him, however, and that's the attention a person like Mike Tyson gets (I guess Tyson got hundreds of newspaper pages in the month up to his October fight with Brian Nielsen). He doesn't think Tyson should even be allowed to box - "by letting him fight", he says, "we prostitute ourselves".
Next, I boldly ask him how he thinks he'd have done against the biggest lightweight name of the era, Roberto Duran. After a brief pause and a smile, he tells me that he thinks he could have been in there with the best, but that his emphasis on technique and dislike of fighting might have cost him the decision, something he feels happened when he drew with Rene Roque for the European lightwelterweight title in 1970. "It's not that I wasn't a 'tough guy', he says, telling me he's only been stopped on cuts. He also tells me about the one time he compromised his ideas and chose to fight, not box - a decision he feels probably cost him the win, but finally gained him the respect of a prominent Danish sports reporter of the time.
In 1967, Krogh met and defeated Angel Robinson Garcia, a fighter whom I recently discovered and, like many others, find fascinating. When Garcia arrived in Denmark, he told the journalists that if they wanted to know where to find him, they'd better "find some handcuffs and fix me to the bed." Everybody laughed - until he disappeared. Luckily, he was found, and the fight became what Danish sportswriter Kurt Thyboe calls a "diamond". Krogh himself remembers Garcia as a great technician and he feels the two made very good fight - but to my surprise, he's never heard of the chaotic conditions before it and asks where I've read it.
As an active fighter, Krogh said that boxing gives you a lot of things to be used in life. Now, after he's retired from the ring, it felt natural to ask if he still feels the same way. He says that his boxing gave him the courage to make decisions, that being in top condition and knowing you can withstand physical pressure gives you confidence and that being in the ring teaches you a lot of things both about yourself and others - that "a lot can be hidden beneath a facade".
The interview draws to a close. I have a personal conception that just a very few people manage to spend an excessive amount of time in the fight game without becoming bitter, but Krogh appears to be one of those lucky few; although he's mentioned a couple of decisions that he felt weren't as they should've been, nothing he's said gives me reason to believe he has any regrets in dedicating so many years to boxing. As I ask him to point out his greatest moment in all these years, his answer makes this seem even more evident. "There's been so many", he tells me.
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