- January 10 down the years
Fight in the ring, not the press conference
Herbie Hide and Michael Bentt came to blows at a press conference to publicise their WBO heavyweight title fight in March. They carried the ill feeling into the ring on March 19 - with almost fatal results.
George Foreman was born in Texas. Forget the mountainous old George of the ponderous punches and grill pans. At his peak, this was boxing's ultimate wrecking ball. His height and big long arms gave him incredible leverage and power and one of the highest knockout percentages. Witness the two-round demolition of Joe Frazier that won him the world title on January 22, 1973. Mike Tyson would have been made for him. Muhammad Ali, on October 30, 1974, wasn't. When he saw the state of heavyweight boxing in the 1990s, big George came out of retirement and regained the title on November 5, 1994 after a record 20 years. He was 45 years old. Way back in 1968, he won the Olympic gold medal. With a knockout, of course. He named all his five sons George. Something to do with not knowing his own biological father. Don't ask, we're lost too.
The 13-year-old Korean-born Australian Jae-An became the youngest male golfer to play in 'a serious professional tournament', the New Zealand Open. He shot 65 to qualify for the event, then 145 to make the cut.
Jack Kyle was born in Belfast. Even today, veteran observers swear he was the best fly-half ever to visit New Zealand. On the 1950 Lions tour, he scored a try to help draw the first Test and generally ran the show until the All Blacks laid plans at the end of the series. A complete footballer, one of the great line-breakers, he scored his first two tries for Ireland in the Grand Slam season of 1948, in narrow wins over England and Scotland. His 52 caps, including six for the Lions, were a world record at the time.
The 16-year-old Australian swimmer Jon Konrads broke his own world record in the 880 yards, becoming the first to swim that and the 800 metres in under nine minutes. On January 14, his sister Ilsa also set a landmark. Jon broke his first world record when he was only 15, on January 11 the previous year. Pretty impressive for someone who had polio as a kid.
Sergi Bruguera was born in Barcelona. He was French Open tennis champion in 1993 (when his win in the final ended Jim Courier's attempt to win it three years in a row) and again the following year, and runner-up in 1997. Unhappy away from clay, he didn't reach the quarter-finals of any other Grand Slam tournament.
Bernard Thévenet was born in France. After failing a drugs test, he admitted to having taken steroids and cortisone while winning the Tour de France in 1975 and 1977. He needed them to beat another drug taker, Eddy Merckx (born June 17, 1945). Thévenet received a French knighthood in 2001.
Peter Keenan knew he was going to lose the British bantamweight title. And he knew it was going to hurt. Freddie Gilroy, a hard-punching young Ulsterman, was waiting in Belfast. Three years earlier, Gilroy had won bronze at the Olympics. Now he was unbeaten in 14 pro fights, 52 fewer than the veteran Scot. Keenan could have retired but believed a champion should go out in the ring. And he did, hitting the canvas three times before the referee stopped it in the 11th. It was Keenan's last bout, while Gilroy went on to fight for the world title. He ended his career with a spectacular win over Johnny Caldwell in one of the best fights ever seen in Northern Ireland.
Garry Cook was born. A British 800 metre runner, he did better in the 4x400 relay, winning Olympic silver in 1984, World Championship bronze the year before, and Commonwealth Games gold in 1982. At his main individual event, he didn't win any major medals, but in 1982 he took part in the rarely run 4x800 and helped set a world record that lasted until 2006. He married the talented and unlucky Kathy Smallwood (born May 3, 1960).
Eddie Cheever was born in Arizona. In 1978 he was one of the youngest Formula One drivers of all time. Twenty years later, he was the first owner-driver since 1977 to win the Indianapolis 500.