Bob Tubandt is headed for one of the biggest honors of his long boxing career.
The 73-year-old Wadena man will be inducted into the Golden Gloves Boxing Hall of Fame in May at the national tournament in Omaha, Neb.
Tubandt fell in love with boxing in 1959. During his career in the ring, he won 47 of his 55 bouts and won five Region 4 championships.
Tubandt then started teaching others how to box in the mid-’60s, and the 51 years of coaching that followed saw his boxers reach national tournaments 15 times. Over his career he coached around 700 boxers.
“It’s a very nice honor,” Tubandt said. “I was picked out of 50 states.”
Tubandt, who was Minnesota Coach of the Year three times, was a tireless promoter who tracked down donations from Wadena and all over the area. Tubandt did it for his boxers, and looking back, he knows exactly why – the pleasure of working with young boxers.
“I was going there to work with the kids, not win awards,” Tubandt said.
One of the boxers who fought under the Wadena banner was the man who now coaches the Central Minnesota Golden Gloves Boxing Club, Jeremy Umland.
“Bob has played a big part in my life and to me was way more than a coach,” Umland said. “When I started boxing for him many years ago, I never thought I would end up taking over the program. He taught me a lot about not just boxing but myself. That no matter how big or old you are, you still can be beat doing pushups by an older dog in the ring. He was there for me not only with my first and last amateur boxing match, but he coached my oldest son as well. He not just supported his boxers in the ring, but in their personal lives as well. He supported me through fighting in the Tuff Man competition and even attended some of my local mixed martial arts (MMA) fights.”
Tubandt is also quick to share credit for his program’s success with Wadena and the rest of the area.
“That is what makes your program successful, getting the support of your community,” he said.
People who know Tubandt well realize he is actually living his second life. In November 2014, Tubandt drove himself to Tri-County Health Care because he did not feel right. He was talking with a doctor when he suffered cardiac arrest. For four and a half minutes, he was deceased while the medical staff frantically worked on restarting his heart.
Once Tubandt revived he realized a young woman was holding his hand and crying.
“What happened?” he asked.
Tubandt was more surprised than alarmed by his close call and his subsequent trip by ambulance to St. Cloud.
A physical, active man, Tubandt did not seem a likely candidate for a heart attack; yet, the advice from his doctor was to give up coaching. The stress connected with running one of Minnesota’s best boxing programs was considered the reason he had nearly gone down for the 10-count.
“He’s the type of guy who says it the way it is and doesn’t sugar coat anything,” Umland said. “The past couple years taking over the program has had its trying moments, but even though he may be ‘retired’ from coaching, I still look to him for advice with the program and always will. I think that’s even brought us closer. I think that he getting inducted to the Golden Gloves Hall of Fame is very well deserved and long overdue.”
Article reprinted with permission from the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Thanks for sharing, WPJ!