Sugar Steve Tanswell
Hands of Stone – Heart of Gold
Only a plonker like me could offer out new friend and rock hard boxer Steve Tanswell. On almost our first date after our wives met on the train I did exactly that and I paid the price the following Wednesday as Steve broke my nose with the opening shot of our matching spar, the most uncomfortable two minutes of my life followed as Steve backed me into a corner and with minimum fuss taught me a lesson that i’d never forget.
That night Steve grew an inch as he told me about his dad Arthur and his Doyle Cousin’s love of Boxing and their tales of childhood scrapping in Stretford. Gary Booth’s grimey Irlam Gym was a surprising good fit for a man that I had clearly underestimated. He looked just like one of the fighters on the posters on the gym wall. He was right at home amongst all that testosterone.
I took the first opportunity to retract my offer to fight Steve as he was clearly great and I was clearly not. Steve spent the next six weeks breaking noses, busting up bags and getting obsessed preparing for The Riff Raff Society’s first ever Fight Night. Feb 14 Valentines Massacre @ the John Alker.
Many of his friends and family suffered as Paul Oldham, Pricey, Elliot, Big Jake and cousin’s Tristan and Aaron were all dragged down the gym and punched in the face by Steve. Big Jake suffered the most having to pull on the gloves at least three times a day at work in the basement office and garden as Steve continually bullied him towards signing up for a fight. Being a lover not a fighter Jake was unsure public pugilism was for him and it took father figure Steve to talk him through a nervey matching event before he started to believe in himself. Steve had no doubt that he could do it and do it it well.
Fifteen tables of ten were squeezed around the Ring in the John Alker making for a really intense fight setting. Steve’s superior skills saw him matched way out of his weight class as he had managed to put off a few would be dance partners in the gym before Danny Francis stepped forward to take him on. Steve stole the show on the night first dancing his way to the ring to ring to his favourite Bee Gee’s track ‘Staying Alive’ fashion before unleashing even better moves in the ring. Responding to clear instructions from knowing friends and corner men Boothy and Radcliffe ‘Show him the weapon Steve’ Tansy established his trademark stiff jab. That Jab opened the door for Steve to close the show with some very classy combinations and along with Ant Wardle Steve was the stand out boxer of the night. Steve’s Joanne struggled to watch any of his fights choosing to look away from the ring most of the time during this and his subsequent four fights.
Steve loved the show and was very proud that all of his stable put in great performances with Pricey being involved in the fight of the night with Mark Wild. Big Jake came right out of his shell and smahed his opponent to bits. Steve was pleased. Don’t mess with the Insurened Mafia!
A humdinging celebration followed at Casa Tanswell and Steve spent the next few months dragging in Church Road passers by to watch his victory on DVD. He loved it and he also loved the charity side of the event as we raised 3k of funds for Amber Morris.
Steve was always going to star in the March the 4rd Massacre at the Curzon as the event got bigger and three hundred plus got to pack out the old Curzon Cinema. Tristan, Aaron, Jay Keelan & Tom Abbot were all signed up to fight this time round as Steve was matched against Carl Beswick. Carl went for it and narrowly missed taking off Steve’s nose off on numerous occasions as he launched some big bad intentioned hooks that narrowly missed the target. Steve was just a fraction too good and he cruised to victory establishing that jab and consitently out manoeuvring Carl. It was a big night for the Charity and for recipient Ailsa Malcolm Hutton (Motor Neuron). We sent Ailsa and her daughter to the Caribbean.
Steve defended his Cruiserweight Title against local Gym owner and muscle man Jack Stacey. Jack installed a boxing ring in his Gym ahead of the fight and got to spar on a daily basis for weeks before the fight. Steve somewhat underestimated Jack having previously easily got the better of him in a spar. A couple of days before the fight Jack looked like pulling out as he admitted to pre-fight nerves and we visited the Gym to talk him around. Steve was quality that day explaining what an opportunity Jack had to find the champion inside of him. Two days later jack reconsidered and the fight was on and fairplay to him as he threw the kitchen sink at Steve that night trying to find his inner champ repeatedly ploughing forward regardless of whatever Steve put on him (Cleaner shots). Steve was dissapointed with his performance on the night and the bout was scored a draw by referee Chunk McGarry. Steve took it on the chin, retained his belt and celebrated passing £8k to brain injury victim Mathew. Cousin Aaron had a great tear up with Ryan Locket.
Fight Club 4 saw Steve take on Ryan Lockett in the most entertaining of scraps. Their matching spar went right off in Irlam as Ryan showed signs that he could mix it with Steve by standing his ground and trading. On the night neither man backed down making for a super fight and a real test of character for both men with Ryan again refusing to get out of the pocket and choosing to exchange leather with the harder hitting Steve. Each round was close but all three ended with steve pouring on the pressure and catching the judges eyes. Massive respect between the two boxers as they embraced at the end with Steve taking home the belt. Tristan scored another big win for the family.
The Society’s final fight Night was never supposed to happen and it nearly didn’t a few times. We were scheduled to take over Bowlers for a Pre-Christmas dust up as Chunk passed us the show date after his proposed event fell through. The opportunity to stage a big show with the deposit already paid and donated to us meant that we could fill out the place at a tenner a ticket, have a massive last show experience and pass on some good money to local causes. Steve and I have different stories of how his match with big Ant Wardle was made but it’s fair to say that we both woke up with a headache and a different story regarding who suggested the fight. He said I called it and I said said he did. Either way Ant accepted immediately and Steve found himself looking down the barrel at Urmston’s number 1 white collar Boxer. A massive challenge. Steve kept swinging from being up for it to calling me every name under the sun for getting him into it. He always liked to work from that place of ‘I’ve got no feckin chance’ I’d heard it 4 times before. Steve got fit for this one smashing the Tennis with Adsy, Paul and co at David lloyds and the doing a bit at Billy Macnamara’s Urmston Boxing Gym on a Wednesday. I put on the body armour and pads and had Steve relentlessly pound me. He’s do 6 x 2 minutes and be barely out of breath. Very impressive for a man that spat out more vape smoke than an angry mount Vesuvius and was Urmston’s equivelant of Keith Floyd when it came to fine wines. Bowlers fell through after they rudely double booked us. Steve suggested cancelling, suggesting that we wouldn’t make a profit at the Curzon. Steve kept saying that he’d prefer to fight in february but all the other fighters wanted it done and dusted for Christmas having already traned for a month so I suggested that he personally pull his fight with Ant but he refused to choosing to call me more names instead. My gut feeling was the whole thing had become a struggle but ultimately the fight was destined to happen and would be the making of this already great man.
When fight night came Steve wanted to fight first to be able to enjoy his last fight night at the bar after the fight and so the main event went on first. Steve’s entourage won the ring walk easily with Son Jacob leading the way with a Blow up Doll on his shoulders followed by Steve’s big mates waving Greek and Man United Flags. Sugar Steve did his usual Bee Gee magic dance to the ring before Ant came out to Blue Moon.
Ant came out the quicker landing a couple of big right hands in round one and fighting smartly out of the clinches taking advantage of a weak ref and the crap oversized headgaurd that Steve had chosen. Tansy gave his head a wobble and came back strong in the final thirty seconds as Ant got to feel the weapon.
The second round was similar with Steve shrugging off a couple of massive Wardle right handed bombs to try and put it on Ant towards the end of the round but this time Ant responded fighting fire with fire probably snatching the round again.
Round three was close again with both guys landing at will. Steve gave it his all having his best round but Ant stood his ground coming back every time it looked like Steve had seized the moment.
At the final bell the respect between the two lads was clear to see as they hugged it out and shared kind words. Ant had his arm raised and became the undisputed Riff Raff Champion.
Steve was wrong about not turning a profit, his efforts were justified as his giving page alone raised £1000 for Shell Harvey as all his pals got behind him. The night was a success with 3k getting passed on to local causes.
Steve did what he does and ruled the after party dancing in the ring, giving Salsa lessons to Bev O’leary and generally celebrating a massive performance.
He was so proud of his performance that night, at Astoria in Urmston afterwards he described how chuffed he was to have taken on Ant and it was gorgeous to see him walk Joanne home, hand in hand, happy. Job done.
Boxing was one of his many passions and it was such a pleasure to see him challenge himself to his absolute maximum.
Besides Boxing I got to share quite a few special times with steve through the charity.
The wizard of Oz Marathon Manchester Marathon was a cracking experience as Steve loved being Dorothy alongside Pricey the couragous Lion, Damien aka Glinda the witch and myself as the Tin Man. We had ‘the follow the yellow brick road’ skip down to a tea and we made alot of people smile that day.
A year later Steve was putty in my hands as I requested that he become Bubbles the Monkey to my Michael Jackson as I ran the Marathon backwards in just over 9 hours with a very loyal heavily vaping Monkey at my side (In his rubber mask the exhaled smoke was coming out of his ears!). Just one mile in I was thinkiing what the hell am I doing, Six miles in the support vehicle at the rear of the field tried to pull us out of the race before a refreshingly aggressive Tanswell Monkey informed them to ‘F’ off as we were going to break the world record. I think we did!
The next year we had 40 Wonderwomen very inspiringly take part in the Marathon and Steve an Myself got to enjoy the Church Rd Riff Raff Marathon Lash up instead of completing the race as the girls took centre stage raising funds for Hayley Saunders. Jeez that was messy. The next year Urmston lost the Marathon. I hope it wasn’t down to us! Disgracefully delightful scenes that day as 200 people must have based there lash up at the tanswells that day. Epic!
Sadly one of Steve’s biggest dreams that never got to happen was his proposed mission to complete the Mongolian Rally (Via the Stan’s). Myself and Pricey went round for dinner with the Tanzy’s followed by a boozy map reading session only to wake the next day to find out that he’d already booked us on it with instructions to get 3 month’s off work sorted. What an experience that would have been!
We love you Steve thanks for everything that you ever did for the Charity, for the Community for and for yourself.
You were so exciting to be next to x