- March 7 down the years
Hearns outclasses Andries
Just as Roy Jones picked John Ruiz on March 1, 2003, so Tommy Hearns chose Dennis Andries. Already a world champion at welterweight and light-middleweight, Hearns had tried to take Marvin Hagler's middleweight belt on April 15, 1985 but lost in the third round. So he began looking upstairs. Britain's Andries held the WBC light-heavyweight belt, but he was the crudest of the light-heavy champions. While Hearns put on a stone without losing much of his punching power, Andries was embarrassingly outclassed, and only his durability and courage prolonged the fight into the 10th round. A short right hand put a stop to the mismatch. In his next fight, Hearns won one of the world middleweight titles and was eventually champion at five different weights. But Andries moved on too. Accepting his limitations, he turned up at the Kronk gym where Hearns trained under Emmanuel Steward and asked to be made a better boxer. Respect all round. After impressing the Kronk regulars with his humility and determination, he regained the light-heavyweight title twice.
Torvill and Dean won their first world title. No Bolero yet, but a nice and haughty paso doble. Their coach Betty Callaway had coached the Hungarian winners the previous year. T&D retained the title for the three years after this.
Wales, with no great pedigree in sevens rugby, won the World Cup in Dubai. Shock winners beat shock finalists who beat shock semi-finalists. Sevens specialists and defending champions Fiji lost by an unthinkable 26-7 to Kenya, who lost to Argentina, who'd beaten South Africa. Wales upset New Zealand 15-14, and England came from 21-7 down to 26-26 but lost to Samoa. So all four favourites went out in the quarter-finals. Wales beat the Samoans 19-12 in the semis, while Argentina screwed down Kenya 12-0. In the Final, Richie Pugh scored a try in the second minute; Martín Rodríguez took advantage of a Welsh mistake to run 50 yards for the equaliser; then Tal Selley continued his great form in the tournament with an individual try that put Wales 12-7 ahead at half-time. The second half was tight and cagey. Gonzalo Camacho scored from a cross-kick, and sudden-death extra-time was looming when Aled Thomas scored the winning try and kicked his second conversion.
Ivan Lendl was born and grew up to become nobody's favourite tennis player. An automation, they said. If you're unsmiling, at least do a McEnroe and be a character. A manufactured player, they claimed. Well, maybe. But this was a natural enough talent to be Wimbledon junior champion, and others followed where he led. Diet, training, discipline: he taught the pros to be professional. And to use the power game: his groundstrokes came at you like the crack of doom. Despite all the practice, he never became a good enough volleyer to win Wimbledon, where he lost consecutive finals. But he won everywhere else. Before Roger Federer, no male tennis player matched his total of 19 Grand Slam singles finals - though it's typical of Lendl's career that he lost 11 of them. He reached eight consecutive US Open finals from 1982 to 1989, losing five. But bear in mind he played in a golden age, losing finals to McEnroe, Connors, Becker, Wilander, and Pat Cash. There again, it was a golden age partly because he was in it - and he won finals against McEnroe (in France and the US), Wilander (ditto), and Stefan Edberg. Lendl became a an uber-American, but in 1980 he helped Czechoslovakia win the Davis Cup for the only time as a united country.
In athletics, the World Indoor Championships ended today. Britain won three gold medals: Jamie Baulch in the 400 metres, Colin Jackson in the 60 metres hurdles, and Ashia Hansen in the triple jump. Haile Gebresilasie and Gabriela Szabo both did the 1500/3000 metres double - and the Ukraine's Vita Pavlysh was disqualified after winning the shot putt. The same thing happened to her at the 2004 Championships!
George Larner was born in Buckinghamshire. He didn't take up competitive walking until he was 28, then won two AAA titles in only his second year. He repeated the double in 1905, then retired, having set nine world records. When the 1908 Olympics were held in London, he got back into shape and became one of the very few British track and field athletes to win two gold medals in one Games. He took the 3,500 metres by 45 yards and the 10 miles by a minute and a half, setting another world best. His training included running (not walking) round a garden. In the rain. In the nude.
Brabham won in a Brabham again. Jack Brabham won the opening race of the Formula One season, in South Africa. He was 43 by now and this was the last Grand Prix he ever won. He won one for the first time in 1959, the year he won the first of his three world titles.
Franco Harris was born in New Jersey. The son of a black father and Italian mother, he was the most dramatic looking American footballer of all time with his aquiline nose and broad jaw. One of the most physically imposing too, an all-time great running back. He fumbled more than any other (they have stats for that too), and preferred to run out of bounds rather than take on tacklers for the extra yard. But he was adamant this extended his career by avoiding pointless collisions. Anyway, show us your Super Bowl rings. As part of a marvellous Pittsburgh Steelers offence, he finished on the winning side in the big game four times and was voted MVP on January 12, 1975. He scored four touchdowns in Super Bowls, and his 354 rushing yardage is still easily a record for the event.
That unique eccentric Dolway Walkington played his last international match. Capped eight times by Ireland at rugby, twice as captain, he wasn't a bad full-back - but only when the sun was out: 'Good on a bright day, but in the dark his sight tells terribly against him.' He was so blind in one eye that he wore a monocle on the pitch, storing it in his shorts before making a tackle! Today in Llanelli, he had it on when he dropped a goal. But a conversion won the match for Wales, and Ireland finished bottom of the Championship table. Walkington's brother Robert had won his last cap nine years earlier.
Ivar Ballangrud was born in Norway, home of top speedskaters. He was one of their best, winner of four Olympic gold medals. He began with the 5,000 in 1928 and finished with three out of four in 1936, from 500 metres to 10,000. He won silver in the other event. He would have won more golds if the 1932 events in Lake Placid hadn't been staged as races, with five or six men in each one, instead of the usual time trials. North Americans won ten of the twelve available medals. Ballangrud was world all-round champion four times from 1926 to 1938 and set five official world records, three of them at 5,000.
Talking of going fast on ice, Sergei Tarabanko of the USSR won the World Ice Speedway Championship for the fourth time in a row.