- November 5 down the years
Foreman completes comeback
The night George Foreman won a world heavyweight world title - after 20 years. His defeat by Muhammad Ali ( October 30, 1974) shattered his reputation as the most destructive man on the planet. Probably in his own mind, too. He fought a few more times before retiring after another defeat in 1977 ( March 17). When he made a startling comeback ten years later, the boxing world sneered. A pantomime, they said. A freak show at the end of the pier, a punch and judy. After all, big George was very big by then. People scoffed because he'd been scoffing too: three stone heavier than at his peak. And he was 38 years old. When he'd beaten a few patsies, he'd take his ill-gotten loot and slope back into retirement. Except that people soon had to admit the unlikely: George's comeback was for real. He paid his dues, winning 24 fights in the next four years before meeting Evander Holyfield for the undisputed world title. And even then, he impressed everyone by going the distance. But when he went 12 rounds again for the WBO title, he didn't look the part, beaten by bar-room slugger Tommy Morrison. Still, it was a defeat which must have persuaded Michael Moorer the old man would be an easy opponent, because Foreman's very next fight was for the WBA and IBF titles Moorer had taken from Holyfield. And Moorer was right: he was well ahead on points after nine rounds. His southpaw right jab was closing Foreman's left eye and swelling his cheek. But George kept coming forward, and Moorer's punches weren't strong enough to stop him (he was a blown-up light-heavyweight, a former WBO champion). Foreman stalked him through the 10th round until he caught him with a right hand to the jaw. It didn't look much, to be honest. Nothing like the sledgehammers Foreman swung at his peak. But somehow it did the job. Moorer saw it coming and began to duck, but the duck turned into a fall, and he didn't get up. Weird. The clock had just gone past midnight on the 6th when big George became the oldest world heavyweight champion of all time. But that defeat by Ali was still on his mind: he wore the same shorts in both fights!
Scott Harrison's last fight. At the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, he had no trouble keeping his WBO featherweight belt with a unanimous decision against Nedal Hussein of Australia. Harrison had won the title in 2002 and regained it in 2003. But 2006 was a tough year for him. After being arrested for two incidents in Glasgow pubs, he withdrew from a fight in May. The he was arrested on assault charges in Spain, and lost his boxing licence when he pulled out of a mandatory defence in December.
Will Carling's debut as England's rugby union captain couldn't have gone much better. He was only 22 and winning only his eighth cap when he led the team out against Australia at Twickenham. In a jolly encounter, all seven tries were scored by the backs, and England's were better. Held 6-6 at half-time, they won 28-19. Rory Underwood scored two tries, scrum-half Dewi Morris one on his debut, while Simon Halliday ran through for the last one. Jet-heeled winger Andy Harriman supported him all the way but didn't get the pass and won only this one cap. David Campese scored one of Australia's tries. Carling eventually captained England 59 times, a record for any country at the time.
Flamboyant all-time great golfer Walter Hagen won the US PGA for the fourth year in a row. It was the toughest triumph of the lot, undecided until the 36th and last hole against Joe Turnesa. The only other golfer to win a major four times in a row did it back in 1872 ( September 13).
One of the greatest performances by one of the greatest runners. In a single event at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, Alf Shrubb broke seven world records, including four set by the great Walter George: at every mile from six to ten, plus 10,000 metres. When Shrubb reached the end, he stopped, of course - only to be urged to carry on and break the record for distance covered in an hour. 'This was a particular strain, as it meant I had to run another ten minutes. I managed it, but with a bad stitch.' Despite losing 25 seconds by hesitating, Shrubb reached 18,742 metres in that hour, which was a world record for nine years. He won the 10 miles by nearly six minutes, and his 10,000-metre record wasn't broken until another all-time giant, Finland's Hannes Kolehmainen, won the inaugural race at the 1912 Olympics.
Talking of distance covered in an hour, exactly 90 years later Switzerland's Tony Rominger cycled 55,291 metres in Bordeaux to shatter the world record of 53,832 he'd set on the same track two weeks earlier. Rominger's latest distance was surpassed when Britain's Chris Boardman set the record that's still with us today ( September 6, 1996).
In rugby union, England prop forward Jason Leonard lost his world record. A World Cup winner in 2003, he won his 114th cap against Italy in 2004. Today scrum-half George Gregan won his 115th, captaining Australia in a 26-16 defeat in Marseilles. Gregan made his last international goodbye at the same stadium in 2007, setting a record which still stands but finishing on the losing side again, this time against England.
Five track and field athletes were banned after positive drug tests the European Championships. Three of them finished fifth in their events: Ekaterina Gordeyenko in the pentathlon, her USSR team mate Vasily Yersov in the men's javelin, and Bulgaria's Elena Stoyanova in the women's shot. The other two were Soviet medallists. Evgeny Mironov finished second in the men's shot, while Nadyeshda Tkachenko won the pentathlon ahead of Gordeyenko. The European Athletics Association banned all five for life, but justice isn't the word: IAAF rules allowed them to apply for reinstatement after only 18 months. Two years later, Tkachenko won gold at the Olympics in Moscow ( July 24)
Bragging rights in British tennis. In the final of the National Championships in Telford, Tim Henman took only 12 points in the opening set against Greg Rusedski, who won it 6-1 despite problems with his only weapon: he got fewer than half his first serves in. Rusedski then went a break up in the second - but Henman's serve was better throughout. He won seven games in a row and the last two sets 6-3 6-2. He beat Rusedski again in the next year's final after splitting the first two sets, which went to tie-breaks. Henman won the event three times in a row while Rusedski reached only those two finals.
In netball, only two of the seven players in a team are allowed to score. Hence Irene Viljoen's 53 goals in South Africa's 55-36 win over England at Wembley. This was the second match of the series, and South Africa won all four, the first three easily, the last only 46-45 after the 6' 4 Viljoen was left out until the last quarter.
The first 60-metre discus throw by a woman was also the first over 200 feet. In an international meet in São Paulo, Liesel Westermann of West Germany reached 61.26 with her sixth and final throw. Local girl Odette Domingos finished second - 18 metres behind! Westermann set another world record the following year and went into the Olympics as warm favourite ( October 18).