• June 24 down the years

The Invictus Moment

A symbolic moment for South Africa © Getty Images

The Invictus Moment, a.k.a a rugby union World Cup final. After the fall of Apartheid, South Africa not only took part in the competition for the first time, they hosted it and reached the final in Johannesburg. But there the Rainbow Nation fairy story had to end, surely. Whereas they survived a late heart-stopper in the semi-final (June 17), their opponents New Zealand had trampled everyone under their chariot wheels, starting with Ireland, poor Japan, then Scotland before traumatising England in the semi-final (June 18). There was just no stopping them, especially their colossal new winger Jonah Lomu. In the final, he was marked by a man called Small, so the headlines were already written. But Lomu had become such a source of tries, for himself and others, that in the final the ball was sent in his direction at all costs, with very little variation. The All Black centres Frank Bunce and Walter Little usually ran straight and hard to commit defenders. There was less of that today - so the Springboks were able to send their drift defence across to Lomu's wing and mark him with numbers. And James Small was a terrier in the tackle. Lomu kept dropping the ball and New Zealand had no Plan B. So the match turned into a kicking contest between the two fly-halves. Penalty goals by Andrew Mehrtens twice gave New Zealand the lead, only for Joel Stransky to kick two before landing a drop goal to put South Africa 9-6 ahead at half-time. Mehrtens landed one to make it 9-9 at the end, but when the match went into extra time, maybe South Africa's extra day's rest began to count. Mehrtens immediately kicked a third penalty to put New Zealand ahead, but back came Stransky with another one. Then, in really tangible tension, he nailed another drop goal to win the match with seven minutes to go. Time for François Pienaar to collect the cup from Nelson Mandela, who was wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and cap. A symbol of reconciliation.

John Isner booked his place in the second round at Wimbledon, but took his time. In a record-breaking match, Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut had already traded blows for two days, resumed play for a third time, deadlocked at 59-59 in the final set. Ultimately was Mahut who cracked first as Isner finally wrapped up an exhausting 6-4 3-6 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 70-68 victory after 11 hours and five minutes on court. "I'm a little bit tired," Isner said after sealing his place in the history books.

Jimmy Braid became the first golfer to win the British Open five times. He won his last four in the space of six years. Today at St Andrews, his total of 299 was four strokes better than anyone else.

In 1926, Bobby Jones won the British Open for the first time. In the third round, fellow American Al Watrous hit 69, a very low score in those days - but then crashed to 78 in the last, four shots more than Jones, who won by two. He was the first amateur to win the Open since Harold Hilton in 1897.

People paid up to £500 to watch Mike Tyson at Hampden Park, even in a non-title fight against a makeweight - and got more action for their money after the fight. A visibly terrified Lou Savarese lasted precisely 38 seconds, the time it took Tyson to throw his first left hook. Then the fun started. As the referee tried to stop the fight, Tyson's fists were still flailing. Said ref hit the deck as Angry Mike's seconds pulled him off the stricken Savarese. Tyson's ire wasn't quenched by the brief action he'd been involved in. After the bout, he disgorged his famous tirade against WBC champion Lennox Lewis, declaring his intention to tear Lewis's heart out and eat his babies. Unpleasant but difficult: Lewis didn't have any babies yet. Tyson had his chance to start tearing hearts out when they met in the ring on June 8, 2002.

Mike Tyson needed only 38 seconds to knock out Lou Savarese © Getty Images

Juan Manuel Fangio was born in Buenos Aires. When he won the Formula One title in 1957 (August 4), he was 46, the oldest world champion ever. He also won it when he was 45, 44, 43 - five times in all, including the last four in a row. It would have been six but for a pesky gearbox on September 3, 1950 - and he missed the entire 1952 season, when he was reigning champion, with a broken neck. Fangio was so dominant that he won 24 Grands Prix, a record at the time, out of only 51 he took part in. What he might have achieved if there'd been a World Championships before he was 40...There again, motor racing was different in his day. Fangio learned his trade in long-distance endurance events in South America, perfect preparation for Formula One races that were longer than they are now (drives were often shared), with big heavy machines. A sport for strong full-grown men, not speedy youths. Not that there's any doubt about how fast he could drive. Or how well. The great Stirling Moss, who finished second to him in the Championship three times, said he learned everything about the sport from following Fangio round a circuit.

What a points machine Jonny Wilkinson was at his peak. Today he was England's only scorer - eight penalty goals and a drop goal - in a 27-22 win in Bloemfontein. South Africa scored the only try, but England nearly scored three or four as well as holding out through nine minutes of injury time.

Jack Dempsey was born William Dempsey in Colorado but named himself after a former world middleweight champion, the one destroyed by Britain's Bob Fitzsimmons on January 14, 1891. In the 1920s, Dempsey was boxing - despite not being particularly popular. A crowd-pleasing puncher with blue-collar appeal, he was vilified as a 'slacker' for not fighting in the First World War, and only grew in the public imagination when he retired. In the ring, he was involved in some of the most vivid heavyweight fights of all time. Seven knockdowns when he won the world title (July 4, 1919); another eight on September 14, 1923; the first million-dollar bout (July 2, 1921); the fight that bankrupted an entire town (July 4, 1923); and a famous controversy in his last bout (September 22, 1927). His ideal fighting weight was 13½ stone, so he couldn't have competed with the modern mastodons. But he would have scared the cruiserweights to death. And he became a full-blown heavyweight when he retired: his restaurant was one of the great New York landmarks.

Until 1958, the US PGA was a matchplay event. In the final this year, Jim Ferrier beat Chick Harbert with four holes to spare. Ferrier's putting was the key: he took only 52 in 35 holes. Just as well, because his driving and approach play were interesting at times: it's said that he hit seven spectators in the final alone!

The longest-lasting men's world record in an Olympic swimming event was broken today. Walter Laufer, an American with a German name, bettered the time set by Otto Fahr, a German with a German name, in April 1912. Laufer swam the 200 metres backstroke in 2 minutes 47.1 to beat Fahr's record by 1.3 seconds. At the World Championships in 2009, America's Aaron Peirsol broke his own world record with a time of 1 minute 51.92.