• January 6 down the years

A shocking battle on ice

The sporting events of January 6 down the years
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan keep a wary eye on each other © Getty Images

One of the biggest news stories of the year. Nancy Kerrigan hurt her knee. Well, someone hurt it for her. America's darling on the ice, she came from a different world to her great rival, the blue collar Tonya Harding. While the tall, willowy Kerrigan was advertising everything from Coke to Xerox, the short muscular Harding was on the skids. So she and her disruptive husband hatched a plot. As Kerrigan stepped off the ice at the US Nationals, she was attacked by Shane Stant, who'd been hired for the purpose. Harding won the event, the injured Kerrigan also went to the Olympics, where neither of them won the gold medal on February 25. In the aftermath, Kerrigan silver-spooned her way to great wealth while Harding was fined, put on probation, banned from ice skating for life, seen on a sex tape worldwide, and turned to pro boxing. Anything she got in life, she had to fight for.

Clive Woodward was born. The man who dragged the England rugby set-up into a new century, then watched it slide back when he left and as he had predicted. Winning the World Cup should have been a starting point, he said, but no-one wanted to listen. A master of creating the right environment for good players, he couldn't do much if they weren't, witness the 2005 Lions tour, which cost a fortune and involved a small army but failed embarrassingly. Still, show us your William Webb Ellis trophies. Woodward the player wasn't bad either. Making his debut as a sub, he galvanised England's back line during the Grand Slam year of 1980, two dashing slaloms leading to tries by his wings in the decider against Scotland on 15 March. A year later, he scored a marvellous individual try against the Scots, sidestepping through half the team. In 1982, he dribbled the length of the field to score against France in Paris. On the 1980 Lions tour, he revealed hidden skills as a goalkicker, though his absence at a lineout gave South Africa the series.

Barry John was born, or rather produced by the factory that churned out Welsh fly-halves. The kingpin of the only Lions team to win a series in New Zealand, he scored 188 points on that 1971 tour. A slim runner who seemed to glide through keyholes, he could also punt like a mule, though his tackling wasn't exactly in the Jonny Wilkinson class. He led Wales to the Grand Slam in 1971, scoring a try in the famous nail-biter against Scotland on February 6 and in the decider against France. He retired, abruptly and at his peak, after scoring 35 points as Wales won all three matches in 1972.

Paul Azinger was born in Massachusetts. He won one golfing Major, the USPGA in 1993, but was better known for overcoming cancer. In 2000 he won a tournament for the first time in seven years. In 2008 he captained the US team that won the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999.

Murray Rose was born in Scotland but moved to Australia as a boy. One of the all-time great swimmers, his success at the longer distances showed that being a vegetarian ('The Seaweed Streak') didn't necessarily mean drowning through lack of nutrients. At the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, he won three gold medals at the age of 17, in the 400, 1500 and long relay. Four years later, he retained the 400 metres, then won four golds at the Commonwealth Games in Perth. He set three world records at 400, one at 800, and two at 1500 nearly eight years apart. Although he set the second just before the 1964 Olympics, the selectors didn't pick him because he hadn't swum in their trials. Small men who thought they were something else. He made people think, the great man. And not just about their diets. 'In water,' he believed, 'you can't think about your troubles.'

Nancy Lopez was born in California. One of the most famous and charismatic golfers of all time, she won 48 tournaments on the US tour. Only one of those was a Major, but she won it three times: the LPGA Championship in 1978, 1985 and 1989. She finished second at the US Open four times, the last in 1997, when she was 40. She was the first to shoot under 70 in all four rounds, but still lost by one stroke to Britain's Alison Nicholas.

Johnny Famechon was one of Australia's top boxing champions. One of France's too: he was born in Paris and his real first name was Jean-Pierre. Today he defended his WBC featherweight title against Japan's tremendous Fighting Harada, stopping the little hornet in the penultimate round. The previous year, he'd won a contentious decision against Harada. Now he recovered from a knockdown in the 10th to drop him in the 12th and knock him through the ropes in the 14th. It was Johnny-Pierre's last successful defence: he retired after losing the title four months later.

Ludvík Danĕk was born in Czechoslovakia. He had to wait until he was 35 and Al Oerter (born September 19, 1936) had retired before he won gold in the discus at the 1972 Olympics, but he'd been world class for years before that. Olympic silver and bronze behind Oerter, European champion in 1971, world records in 1964 and 1965. At 37 he was still good enough to win silver at the 1974 Europeans.

Kid Chocolate was born. Born Eligio Sardiñas, he held the junior lightweight title from 1931 to 1933. Typical of his time, he fought 151 pro fights in only eleven years. Not content with making a confectionery reference to his colour, people also called him the Cuban Bon-Bon. The sweet science, alright.

In contrast with his fellow Cuban Chocolate's silky skills, Kid Gavilán was more of a puncher (gavilán is Spanish for 'sparrowhawk'). Born Gerardo González, he made a speciality of the bolo punch and went 15 rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson (born May 3, 1921) for the world welterweight title, then took over when Robinson moved up to middleweight in 1951. He lost the title in a shocker of a points decision to Johnny Saxton.

Phil Brown was born. An under-achiever in individual 400 metre races (one Commonwealth Games bronze), he came to life as a relay anchor man, leading Britain to silver at the Olympics, World Championships and Europeans, and gold at the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and 1986.

Cary Middlecoff was born in Tennessee. US Open golf champion in 1949 and 1956 and Masters champion in 1955, when he also finished second in the USPGA.