- April 7 down the years
Defeat for Prince Naseem
Naseem Hamed's only defeat as a professional. After winning three different versions of the world featherweight title, he now went for a fourth, the least regarded of the lot, taking on Marco Antonio Barrera for the vacant IBO belt. Hamed made a typical entrance, all fireworks and catwalk and a motorised swing that carried him over spectators' heads into the ring. You can get away with this kind of thing if you win spectacularly, like Hamed did on March 16, 1996. But if you lose, you just look a prat. Actually, scrub that. Win or lose, you look a prat. And this time Hamed didn't look much better once the fight started. Barrera had been expected to come forward and take punches to give them. Instead he boxed clever - and Sheffield's finest had no answer. Barrera circled to his left to keep away from Hamed's left lead and picked him off all night, taking advantage of Hamed's hand-down defence. The hands never came up. A matter of pride, maybe. Rather take the punches than admit you need to defend. Whatever, Barrera embarrassed him at times, and was so far ahead by the last round that he could afford a penalty point for grabbing Hamed in a headlock and ramming him into a ring post! When Barrera vacated the title to go and win the WBC version, Hamed regained it the following year. But he looked so bad he retired and never fought again.
Jonny Wilkinson became the first England player and the youngest from any country to score 400 points in international rugby. He was 21 years 286 days old when he kicked 18 points against France at Twickenham to overtake Rob Andrew's total. That was a time when England put a lot of points on even the top sides, and 48-19 was a normal scoreline. Wilko converted all six tries, which were scored by six different players - this after France led 16-13 at half-time. Future England captain Steve Borthwick made his debut alongside Martin Johnson in the second row.
On the second day of the first modern Olympic Games, Launceston Elliot won Britain's first medal and first gold. In the two-handed lift, he was beaten by Viggo Jensen of Denmark - but only just. Both men lifted 111.5 kilos, but Jensen was awarded first place because Elliot moved his foot while he did it. In the one-handed lift that followed this, Elliot raised 71 kilos above his head, 14 more than Jensen. Elliot was the only British competitor to win an Olympic title in weightlifting. He also finished fourth in the heavyweight wrestling and fifth in rope climbing. He was born in India but named after the Tasmanian town where he was conceived.
Meanwhile Charles Gmelin won Britain's first Olympic medal in track and field. Probably. There was no doubt about the winner. Tom Burke finished a second ahead of another American, Herbert Jamison, who was well clear of the rest. For many years, Fritz Hofmann of Germany was credited with third place, but that now appears to have been Gmelin. The truth is we'll probably never know for sure: the race was run without lanes and ended in a mass finish. Times and distances at these first Olympics were almost uniformly dreadful - but it wasn't just the athletes who were inadequate. The running surface was too hard underneath and gravelly on top, and the bends were so tight that the 400-metre runners had to screech to a halt at the end of the straights. No wonder Burke's winning time was nearly six seconds slower than the world record. He won a second event on April 10, when another runner may have been the first to win a medal for Britain...
Ellery Clark also won two events. The high jump tomorrow, the long jump today. But he very nearly didn't. After measuring out his run in the long jump, he put down a marker - only for a Greek prince to remove it because it smacked of professionalism. Without the marker ('I was practically lost without it'), Clark fouled his first two jumps and was on the verge of finishing with 'three fouls, then five thousand miles back again'. His third and last attempt was well clear of Bob Garrett in second place.
While Burke and Clark went on to win their other events, Garrett had already won one. The day before, he'd shocked the Greeks in the discus. Today he did the same in the shot putt, winning with his first attempt, a puny 11.22 metres, more than three metres short of the world record. As in the discus, Greek throwers finished second and third. Viggo Jensen the weightlifter (above) was fourth.
The great Jim Clark died at Hockenheim. In a Formula Two race he didn't need to enter. Typical of track safety in those days, his car smashed into surrounding trees. He was leading the Formula One Championship after winning a Grand Prix for the 25th time, which was a record then. Despite Fangio and Moss, despite Prost and Senna and Schumacher, many experts regard the quiet Scot as the greatest driver of all time. It's said that in his peak years only mechanical failure ever beat him (he finished runner-up in only one Grand Prix). He didn't just win his two world titles, he obliterated all opposition. In 1963 he won seven out of the ten races staged, in 1965 six of the first seven before his Lotus conked out in the last three. He would have won in 1964 but for an oil leak on the last lap of the last race, after which John Surtees was waved through by his team mate. Clark's 33 pole positions (the test of pure speed) were also a record when he died. He won three non-Championship Grands Prix, and the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, the only driver ever to win that race and the Formula 1 title in the same year. Right up there. With the best of the rest looking up.
The most rounds in a boxing match with gloves. When Andy Bowen met Jack Burke in New Orleans, their lightweight encounter spilled over from the night before. The fight went on for a record 7 hours 19 minutes, until neither man could come out for the 111th round. The wimps.
Jack Nicklaus won the Masters for the first of his record six times. In rain and wind that led to high scores, he made 66 when the weather relented in the second round, then held on to beat Tony Lema by one stroke. At 23, Nicklaus was the youngest winner of the Masters up till then.
At the other end of the boxing timescale, Al McCoy won the world middleweight title by knocking out George Chip after only 45 seconds, the shortest world title fight for decades to come (though note that one source says it lasted nearly two minutes!). McCoy was the first southpaw to win a world title. Two years later, Chip knocked McCoy down twice but the fight was no-decision, so McCoy kept the title.
The Japanese Grand Prix was the first ever MotoGP world championship race (with four-stroke engines allowed back in), replacing the 500 cc class. It was won by - surprise, surprise - reigning world champion Valentino Rossi on a Honda.
The mighty Ben Hogan hadn't won a Major yet. He'd lost a clash of the titans on April 13, 1942 and left himself too much to do in the next Masters here today. While he was shooting 74 and 70 in the first two rounds, Herman Keiser (what a name to have in the US Navy during the War) went round in 69 and 68. Hogan trailed by five going into the last round but threw everything at it. Keiser lost his nerve and three-putted the last hole. But then, amazingly, so did the great man. It was the only Major Keiser ever won. Hogan won one for the first time on August 25.
Cliff Morgan was born in Trebanog. Like his idol Jack Kyle, he was one of the great running fly-halves, a master of the electric break. If Kyle was the star of the Lions tour to New Zealand in 1950, Morgan was king in South Africa five years later. He scored a try in the classic first Test on August 6, and captained the team in the third, which they also won. An ankle injury held him back in the fourth, which the Springboks won to square the series. Morgan captained Wales to the Five Nations title the following season, four years after helping them win the Grand Slam. He made his debut opposite Kyle himself in 1951. Later that year, he celebrated his birthday in Paris after making the break that led to a try which gave Wales a first-half lead, but they lost 8-3. Morgan's rich voice, warmth and enthusiasm were made for broadcasting, and he worked on TV and radio for thirty years. That's him commentating on the famous Barbarians v All Blacks match on January 27, 1973.
Jansher Khan won his fifth consecutive British Open by beating Australia's Rodney Eyles in three tough games. He won it for the sixth and last time the following year.
Lawrence Dallaglio scored his last try against Italy. He'd already put two across his dad's homeland on November 23, 1996 and February 17, 2001. Now he helped England stroll 45-9 in Rome. Big Lol finished on the winning side in all eight of his matches against Italy.
Edoardo Mangiarotti was born in Italy and grew up to become the most successful fencer of all time. Like gymnasts, they're eligible for more medals than most, but even so Mangiarotti's 13 at the Olympics are the most by anyone in the sport. Six of them were golds, and he would have won more but for the Second World War. He did even better at World Championships: a whopping 24 medals, 12 of them gold. Like many other fencers, he won them over a considerable span of time. His first Olympic gold came in the épée team in 1936, his last in the same event at Rome in 1960. He won five of those golds and ten of his world titles in team competitions, but he was master of the épée in the early Fifties: individual champion at the Olympics in 1952 (when his brother Dario won the silver) and the Worlds in 1951 and 1954.