- February 7 down the years
Lennox wins back the crown
Lennox Lewis regained the world heavyweight title for the first time. On September 24, 1994, Oliver McCall had shocked him in the second round, inflicting his first defeat as a professional. But McCall had issues. He was so low at one point that he even lost the title to Frank Bruno on September 2, 1995. Big Frank was demolished by Mike Tyson, who gave up the WBC belt but kept the WBA version. So today Lewis and McCall were back in the ring for the vacant WBC title. Still with us? Poor Olly wasn't for long. Lewis stopped him in the fifth and kept the title for another four years. McCall was still fighting in 2009 at the age of 44, but his championship days ended here in 1997.
The first international rugby match at the Stade de France. A record crowd of 80,000 came to see France beat England 24-17. They dropped two goals and scored two tries, one of them by feisty little winger Christophe Dominici on his debut.
New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. Some four and a half years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, the Saints reached their first Super Bowl, having gone 13-3 in the regular season. They faced an Indianapolis Colts side led by legendary quarterback Peyton Manning at the Sun Life Stadium, but it was Manning's intercepted pass that proved the game-clincher as the Saints triumphed 31-17. Victorious quarterback Drew Brees was named the Super Bowl MVP after equalling a Super Bowl record 32 completions (first set by Tom Brady), while the half-time entertainment was provided by British rock band The Who.
Stephanie Cook was born in Scotland. In the modern pentathlon at the 2000 Olympics, she started the final event 49 seconds behind the leader, but everyone knew she was going to win: running was her strongest event of the five. Sure enough, she passed the leader with 800 metres to go and won by eight points. It was the first time a women's event had been included in the sport at the Olympic Games. Britain's Kate Allenby won the bronze. The following year, Cook achieved a clean sweep of titles at the World Championships - individual, team, and relay - before retiring to continue her medical career.
Ellen McArthur sailed solo round the world - and took less time about it than anyone else before her. The trip from New York Bay to the island of Ushant near France covered 27,354 nautical miles. It took her 71 days 14 hours and a bit, breaking the previous best by more than 32 hours. When French sailor Francis Joyon regained his record, it stayed regained. In 2008 he shattered McArthur's time by almost two weeks.
One of JPR's team-mates was born today. Gerald Davies was one of the great rugby wings, right up there with Jonah Lomu, Brian Habana, David Campese, Jason Robinson and Shane Williams. Slight but super-fast, with a killer sidestep, he started as a centre and would have scored many more tries for Wales if he'd moved to the wing earlier - and if they'd given him the ball more often. As it was, his 20 in 46 matches were a record he shared with Gareth Edwards. As Davies joked, 'From a five-yard scrum, Gar? You're not counting that?' The 1971 Lions made more use of him. He scored two tries in the second Test, which was lost, and another in the third, which put the Lions 2-1 up in the only series they've ever won in New Zealand. The game of sevens seemed to have been invented especially for him.
Tony Sibson's last fight. After the stinging lessons meted out by Marvin Hagler on February 11, 1983, he lost his attempt to win the WBC light-heavyweight title from Dennis Andries but came back down to middleweight for this crack at Frank Tate. Sibson was a crowd pleaser with a decent dig in both hands, but although Tate was no Hagler he was in that class, an Olympic champion in 1984. And Sibson's go-forward approach was made for his counter-punching and longer reach. He was well ahead on points when he dropped Sibson with a combination in the tenth round, and the referee stopped it at once. Sibbo retired with cheers in his ears but no world title.
The great Birger Ruud nearly won a third gold medal in a row, 16 years after his first. He was the only competitor to come close to winning medals in Nordic and Alpine skiing: At the 1936 Winter Olympics, he was fourth in the combined and retained the ski-jumping title he won in 1932. Now in 1948 he was 36 and went to the Olympics as one of Norway's coaches. When he saw how bad the weather was, he picked himself instead of a less experienced jumper - and won the silver medal, less than two points behind the winner. What he might have achieved if two Winter Olympics hadn't been wiped out by the War - actually he achieved something else. Imprisoned by the Nazis, he joined the resistance in 1944. He was 82 when he carried the Olympic flag at the Games in Lillehammer in 1994.
Kristin Otto was born in Leipzig. She was a product of the East German sports system, which casts something over her swimming success, of which there was a shedload. Massively muscled, she won six gold medals at the 1988 Olympics alone, four in individual events. But seven was her favourite number. She won that many golds in World Championships, the same again at the Europeans, and set world records in seven different events. But she admitted it wasn't all talent. 'The medals are the only reminder of how hard I worked. It was not all drugs.'
Jack Britton and Ted 'Kid' Lewis boxed each other for the last time. At long last. This was their 20th pro fight together, including twelve for the world welterweight title, all within six years. Lewis was born Gershon Mendeloff in London. Britton started life as William Breslin in the USA. Most of their fights were no-decision, so only seven had a definite result. This was the seventh, Britton winning a unanimous decision to finish 4-3 ahead. Maybe he was fired-up by his opponent's mouthguard. Lewis was the first top boxer to use one regularly. Britton objected to it here, then spent the fight trying to hit it. He fought his 350th and last pro fight in 1930, Lewis his 300th and last on December 13, 1929.
Charles Dixon was born in Lincolnshire. Although he reached the All-Comers singles final at Wimbledon in 1901, he didn't do it again until ten years later, and even then didn't reach the top until 1912, by which time he was 39 and a doubles specialist. He became Wimbledon champion in that event, helped the British Isles win the Davis Cup, and picked up three medals at the indoor tournament in the Olympic Games: gold in the mixed, silver in the singles after beating the favourite Tony Wilding in the semi-final, bronze in the doubles. He retained the Wimbledon doubles title in 1913. His brother John played football for England in 1885 and captained Nottinghamshire at cricket.
A match to enter Welsh folklore. Against Scotland at Cardiff, their famous forward Watcyn Thomas scored a try to make the score 8-8 - but broke his collarbone colliding with a goalpost. No padding in those days, Or substitutes. Thomas stayed on for the last half-hour, during which Wales scored the winning try from a forward pass that was knocked on!
Former champion Jem Mace had been casting aspersions on the state of British heavyweight boxing and Charley Mitchell in particular. So Mitchell challenged him to put up or shut up. By the time the police stopped the fight, Mace had been down in the first and the fourth. So Mitchell had put his fists where the old man's mouth was. But Mace wasn't far wrong. He was 58 at the time! And Mitchell didn't find it quite so easy when he challenged for the world title on January 25 a few years later.