• November 23 down the years

A tennis great still going strong

The sporting events of November 23 down the years
Merv Hughes was he born with that moustache? © Getty Images

Lew Hoad was born in Australia. With wrists of steel and the looks of a blond Robert Mitchum, he was the star of amateur tennis in the 1950s. Defeat by his doubles partner Ken Rosewall (born November 2, 1934) in the 1956 US Open final cost him the Grand Slam and reduced the fee he could command as a professional. So he waited another year, winning Wimbledon again. By the time Open tennis arrived in 1968, he was past his best and suffering from a bad back. When he gave up his amateur status, he was only 23, with who knows how many Grand Slam titles ahead of him.

In the 54-21 win over Italy at Twickenham, one of England's tries was scored by Lawrence Dallaglio, whose father is Italian. Big Lol's middle names are Bruno Nero (Italian for Brown Black among other things) and 'Dallaglio' means 'from the garlic'. But you tell him that.

Vladimir Kuts won an epic, lung-bursting Olympic 10,000 metres duel with British athletics icon Gordon Pirie. Time and again Kuts put in a characteristic surge, again and again Pirie went with him. Then, with four laps to go, he couldn't go any more, dropping back exhausted to finish eighth. Five days later, Kuts did the double by winning the 5,000. Pirie, running for second this time, finished 11 seconds behind, with team-mate Derek Ibbotson third.

At Twickenham, England inflicted South Africa's biggest ever defeat, 53-3, seven tries to nil, converted by four different kickers, as the Springboks lost their collective rag and fouled anything in white. Jannes Labuschagne was sent off for a late tackle on Jonny Wilkinson after 23 minutes, when the score was only 8-0. After that, England collected tries and bruises: Neil Back's eye was shut, at least four other players suffered head injuries. South Africa's captain Corné Krige was one of the main culprits as England paid a price for their fourth consecutive win over the Boks.

In Mar del Plata, Spain (without Rafa Nadal) won the Davis Cup for the third time by beating their hosts 3-1. Argentina, who've never won the trophy, lost a final for the third time.

Birmingham saw the finish of the Lombard RAC rally, the last race in the first official World Drivers' Championship. Finland's Hannu Mikköla won the race, second-placer Björn Waldegård of Sweden was the inaugural world champion.

On the same day in 1994, Colin Macrae became the first British driver to win the RAC Rally since Roger Clark in 1976. And in 1998, Britain's Richard Burns won the same race. At the end of it, Finland's Tommi Mäkinen was world champion for the third time in a row. He retained the title yet again the following year.

Fighting in his home town of Irvine, Scotland's Paul Weir won his second WBO title (see May 15 1993) in only his ninth pro bout, beating Paul Oulden of South Africa on points to take the light-flyweight belt.

Asafa Powell was born with fast-twitch muscles but a shortage of fire in his belly. Four world records in the 100 metres, no global golds. Would he ever have found the competitive streak to get the better of Tyson Gay? The question was rendered irrelevant by the arrival of Usain Bolt (born August 21 1986), who at least set Asafa up for that elusive Olympic gold by handing him the baton with a clear lead in the 2008 final. Powell ran strongly enough to break another world record. With no-one to beat, he'd won the consolation prize of individual gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

An up-and-coming Lennox Lewis stopped Tyrell Biggs after knocking him down three times in the third round. Revenge in a rematch. On his way to winning super-heavyweight gold at the 1984 Olympics, Biggs had outpointed Lewis in the quarter finals. Lewis won the same title four years later.

Martina Navarátilová became far and away the oldest player to take part in a Fed Cup final. At 47 years, 36 days old, she won the doubles with her 22-year-old partner Alexandra Stevenson, but the USA lost 4-1 to France.

Shane Gould was born. Long before blond Australian sports heroes called Shane were male cricketers, this was the best all-round swimmer in the world. She went to the 1972 Olympics as a multiple world record holder and set three more when she got there - but she'd been favourite in five events, a heavy burden for a 15-year-old, and she won 'only' silver and bronze in two of them. So the slogan on American t-shirts was right: 'All that glitters is not Gould' - but only just, and she might have won another three golds at the next Games if she hadn't had enough of competitive swimming and retired the following year. At 18 she disappeared into the Western Australian outback for many years before re-emerging to carry the Olympic torch at the 2000 Games in her home town Sydney.

The road to superstardom started here. Already Olympic champion from 1992, Oscar de la Hoya won his pro fight, knocking out Lamar Williams in the first round. De la Hoya went on to win world titles at six different weights.

In the team foil event, Italian fencer Manlio Di Rosa won his first Olympic gold medal since 1936, a record gap of 20 years 111 days.

The first trio of brothers to play in the same rugby union international. Freddie, John, and Dick Luyt helped the Springboks beat Scotland 16-0 in Edinburgh. Three members of the famous Morkel family scored for South Africa.

Bennie Osler was born. The ultimate kicking fly-half, notoriously so, he was also one of the great rugby union generals. In the days when line-outs were taken from where the ball went out of play even if you kicked from outside your own 22, it was a hugely effective tactic if you had a dominant pack, which South Africa invariably had. The one time he was instructed to play a running game, the Springboks lost 21-6 at home to Australia. Back to the boot after that. He was particularly dominant on the 1931-32 tour, when South Africa beat all four British countries and he scored the winning try against Scotland that clinched the Grand Slam.

In a rugby league international at Wigan, Bernard Ganley equalled a Great Britain record by kicking ten goals in a 44-15 win over France.

Martín López Zubero of Spain shattered the 200 metres backstroke world record that had stood since 1985 and set one that lasted until 1999.

If ever the first ball of an Ashes series said it all...

Steve Harmison was part of the England pace quartet who helped win back the urn in 2005. Now, in Brisbane, his first delivery was taken by Andrew Flintoff at second slip. 'Oh no, what have I got here?' thinks the England captain. Very few Australian batsmen were in Harmy's way in that series: he took only ten wickets at 61.40 each. The 5-0 scoreline seemed almost inevitable from day one.

Merv Hughes was born. Anyone watching the first Test of the 1986-87 Ashes series and seeing big Merv being carted around Brisbane by Ian Botham would never have believed he could go on to take 212 Test wickets. When Australia regained the Ashes in England in 1989, Hughes took 19 wickets in support of Terry Alderman's 41. When Australia retained the Ashes in England in 1993, his tache was bigger and droopier and his girth was something to behold, but he took 31 wickets, bowling at no more than medium-brisk but no less than maximum hostility. A heavyweight champion.

Gary Kirsten was born. The first cricketer to play in 100 Tests for South Africa, he was one of the most prolific batsmen the country has ever produced. 7,289 runs, 21 centuries, a top score of 275 against England at Durban in December 1999. That was a national record at the time; his 188 not out against the United Arab Emirates in 1996 still is, as well as being the highest score in any World Cup match. Kirsten was the first batsman from any country to make Test hundreds against all other nine countries.