- June 4 down the years
Hatton comes of age against Tszyu
The night Ricky Hatton stepped up into international class. Sort of. Kostya Tszyu was born in the Soviet Union but now operated out of Australia. He'd been world amateur champion in 1991, then became the IBF light-welterweight champion four years later. He lost the title, won the WBC version, then in 2005 unified the WBC, WBA, and IBF belts. He fought only once a year after that, and the Hatton bout was only his 34th in pro boxing, spread over 14 years. His CV included a title win over the legendary Julio César Chávez (born July 12 1962), but Chávez was 38 at the time - and age mattered tonight too. Tszyu was 35, and the ruggedness which allowed him to withstand a lot of punches now caught up with him. Hatton was only the WBU champion, but he was younger and strong and he essentially bullied Tszyu out of it. He lost the first few rounds, won the next few, and the champion quit on his stool at the end of the 11th, battered by low blows as well as high ones but essentially just at the end of his tether. He didn't fight again. Armed with a kosher title at last, Hatton won the WBA welterweight title on May 13 the following year.
On day two of the first Test of the Ashes series at Old Trafford, Australian spinner Shane Warne bowled England batsman Mike Gatting with 'The Ball of the Century' - a delivery that pitched outside leg-stump but turned back in and clipped off-stump. It was Warne's first Ashes series and he went on to become the first player to take 700 Test wickets. He is also widely considered the man who revived the dying-art of leg-spin bowling.
Before a rugby match between New Zealand and Japan, you'd expect a lopsided scoreline - but nothing quite like this. It was the only time the two countries met in an official international, and no wonder. For this World Cup group game in Bloemfontein, the All Blacks rested top players like Jonah Lomu, captain Sean Fitzpatrick, and fly-half Andrew Mehrtens - but their second string was still far too strong. Mehrtens's stand-in Simon Culhane set international records that haven't been broken: most conversions (20), and most points by a player making his debut (44). New Zealand set World Cup records that still stand by scoring 21 tries, six by centre Mark Ellis, in winning 145-17.
On the same day in the same group, Wales and Ireland met to decide who accompanied the All Blacks into the quarter-finals. The Irish started with a rush, playing with an intensity that put them 14-0 up in as many minutes thanks to two tries from lineouts. They defended the lead with a series of long kicks downfield, but Wales came back to 14-9 before Eddie Halvey scored Ireland's third try. The Welsh scored two in the last eight minutes but finished a point short at 24-23. For the second World Cup in a row, they were eliminated at the group stage.
Meanwhile England still weren't playing like world beaters, but they improved to beat a typically committed Western Samoa, who scored three tries, two of them by substitute Fata Sini. England led 21-0 at half-time, and supersonic wing Rory Underwood scored two of their four tries, while Jon Callard kicked 21 points in a 44-22 win. Both countries qualified for the quarter-finals.
In the same group, 21 of Italy's points in their 31-25 win were scored by fly-half Diego Domínguez - against his own country. He'd won two caps for Argentina in 1989.
The first official Ryder Cup ended today. Held in Worcester, Massachusetts, it pitted an American team full of Major winners against nine Brits who won only three between them - and one of those was team captain Ted Ray, who'd won the British Open in 1912 and the US Open in 1920 but was now 50 years old. He lost 7 & 5 to Leo Diegel, and all-time greats Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen also contributed to the USA's win by 9½ to 2½. Britain did rather better in the return match on May 27 two years later.
The Walker Cup, the Ryder Cup for amateurs, was first held in 1922 (August 29). Britain didn't win it until today, at the 10th attempt. At St Andrews, they were level going into the last day, then won five of the eight singles. Charlie Stowe, who worked as a miner, had a gutsy narrow win over Chuck Kocsis which set the tone for the day, and Alex Kyle won the decisive match 5 & 4 against Fred Haas. Glorious, but just a blip. Britain didn't win the Cup again until 1963.
Mick Doohan was born in Brisbane. Crashes in 1991 and 1999 cost him world titles, the second so severe it forced his retirement from motorcycling. But in between, he couldn't stop winning, becoming the most successful rider between Giacomo Agostini and Valentino Rossi. In the 500 cc class, Doohan's 54 race wins and five world titles (1994-98) put him in third place behind the two Italian giants, neither of whom matched his 12 wins in a year (1977).
In rugby union, most commentators expected very little from England in South Africa. They weren't as underdoggy as their predecessors in 1972 (June 3), but the Springboks were heavy favourites in Pretoria. After only 15 minutes, the score was 20-0 - and England were out of sight. Ben Clarke and Tim Rodber were runaway trains in the back row, and Rob Andrew collected 27 points, an England record at the time. He scored in all four ways, although his drop goal, from a free kick, should have been disallowed because it wasn't touched by an opponent in flight. But South Africa weren't quibbling. No-one had scored 32 points against them at home before, and their only replies were five penalty goals by André Joubert. They beat England in Cape Town a week later, but both countries had reasons to be confident before the World Cup in the same country the following year.
Deborah Compagnoni was born in northern Italy. One of the most successful alpine skiers of all time, she was the first to win gold medals at three Winter Olympics: the super-g in 1992 and the giant slalom in 1994 and again in 1998, when she also won silver in the slalom. She did the slalom/giant slalom double at the 1997 World Championships after winning the GS the previous year.
Long jumper Anişoara Cuşmir set two world records on the same day. Her 7.21 metres added to the record she'd set earlier in the year, and her preposterous 7.43 would be unthinkable nowadays.
Richard Allen was born. He was India's goalkeeper when they won the hockey gold medal at the Olympics in 1928, 1932, and 1936. In those three Games, India conceded a total of only three goals. Legend has it that Allen was off the field for one of them, signing autographs.