• December 22 down the years

Becker brilliance in vain

The sporting events of December 22 down the years
Boris Becker: A grass court legend, but could play a bit on clay too © Getty Images

It's hard to know why West Germany staged the Davis Cup final on indoor clay in Munich. Their best player was the 18-year-old Boris Becker, who'd won the Wimbledon title - on grass, of course. They obviously knew something others didn't, because he won both his matches. But his team-mate Michael Westphal wasn't in the same class. After a straight-sets defeat by Mats Wilander, he did well to win the first set in the decider before losing to Stefan Edberg.

Cassie Jackman was born in Norfolk. Known as Cassie Campion during the time she was married to the England coach, she won the world squash title in 1999. In the final, she won in three straight games against Australia's Michelle Martin, who'd beaten her in the final five years earlier. Just as well Cassandra won that one, because otherwise she'd go down as a serial runner-up: she lost three World finals and two British Open finals. She was British national champion a record six times.

Dmitri Bilozerchev was born. One of the best gymnasts of all time and probably the most precocious. When he became all-round world champion in 1993, he showed remarkable upper-body strength for a 16-year-old, winning three individual apparatus titles. The Soviet boycott kept him out of the 1984 Olympics, but he returned from a horrendous car crash (his leg was broken in forty places) to regain the world title in 1987. He won three golds at the 1988 Olympics, but a slight error on the high bar cost him the all-round title.

The great Georges Carpentier won his first national boxing title, the French lightweight, by winning a ten-round decision against Paul Til. This was Carpentier's 20th pro fight. He was 15 years old.

Joe Lynch took the world bantamweight title from Pete Herman by outpointing him over 15 rounds in Madison Square Garden. Nothing very newsworthy in that, just the coincidence that on the same day in 1922, Lynch kept his world title on points against Midget Smith, also in Madison Square Garden. Again, not a famous fight - but one that illustrates how hard they had it in those days: this was Smith's third bout in nine days and his 17th that year. Lynch fought 14 times in 1923.

Meyer Prinstein was born Mejer Prinsztejn in Poland but competed for the USA. One of the top all-round distance jumpers, he was Olympic champion at the triple jump in 1900 and 1904 and the long jump in 1904 and the Intercalated Games of 1906. He felt he might have won the long jump in 1900 too. His longest effort came in qualifying, which in those days counted towards the final placings. One of the American officials then banned him from taking part in the final, which was held on a Sunday - even though Prinstein was Jewish. Alvin Kraenzlein did take part, even though he was a Christian - and bettered Prinstein's qualifying distance by a single centimetre.

Johnny Kilbane finally ended Abe Attell's controversial on-off ten-year reign as world featherweight champion. Controversial because Attell survived a number of no-decision fights in which he was outboxed, notably by the great Welsh stylist Jim Driscoll in 1909 and London's Matt Wells two years later.

Marcus Hurley was born in the USA. At the 1904 Olympics, he won four gold medals in cycling, at some esoteric distances: quarter of a mile, third of a mile, half a mile, and mile, none of which were staged in any other Games.

That fearsome little bantamweight Terrible Terry McGovern kept his world title by stopping Harry Forbes inside two rounds.