On This Day

  • April 6 down the years

Sugar Ray ends Hagler's career

Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler produced one of the great bouts of the 1980s © Getty Images
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1987
In one of the must-see boxing matches, Sugar Ray Leonard came face-to-face with Marvelous Marvin Hagler. While Leonard was making himself champion at welterweight and light-middleweight, Hagler dominated a single division. This was his 13th defence since taking the middleweight belt from Britain's Alan Minter on September 27, 1980. Leonard had fast hands and charisma, Hagler had hard hands and relentlessness. Leonard was articulate and pretty, Hagler gruff and macho. They gave us a classic fight. Afterwards, the judges were accused of falling for Leonard's tactic of refusing to get involved for most of each round, then firing eye-catching combinations in the last thirty seconds. But Leonard got his tactics right. For all his menace, Hagler was a plodder. Stand up to him like John Mugabi and Tony Sibson and you got beaten up. Stick and move and you had a chance. And nobody stuck and moved like Sugar Ray. Yes he was flashy in this fight, but Hagler's puffy face told the story. It was the only defeat of his pro career and he never fought again. Leonard went off to win the world light-heavyweight title on November 7, 1988.

1896
The opening day of the first modern Olympics. Together with the Athens Games of 1906, they were the shortest ever, lasting only ten days. There were 40,000 people in the stadium to watch the first Olympic event since 369 AD: a heat of the 100 metres, won by Francis Lane of the USA in the miserable time of 12.4 seconds.

The first British competitor to take part was Charles Gmelin, who finished fourth in the third heat. The next day, he became Britain's first track and field medallist. Apparently.

The first Olympic champion for 1,527 years was another American: Jim Connolly in the triple jump. He landed a metre further than Alexandre Tuffère of France, with local man Ioannis Persakis third. Connolly also finished joint second in the high jump and third in the long jump.

The big disappointment for the crowd came in the discus, an event that went back to ancient times and was rarely staged outside Greece. Their No. 1, Panagiotis Paraskevopoulos, had set a world record just before the Games, but it was a poor one in an event with no recent history. He improved it three times here, although that still wasn't saying much. All the Greeks threw in the classical style, sending the implement skimming cleanly through the air. Bob Garrett - yet another American - couldn't manage that. He'd never thrown a two-kilo discus before, though he'd once practised with something much heavier. His first two attempts wobbled and bombed. His third and last was more about brute strength than style, but it broke the new world record and a lot of Greek hearts. Garrett also won the shot putt and finished second in the high jump (tied with Connolly) and long jump.

2003
The 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix was the 700th in the Formula One World Championship and the 200th for the Jordan team. It was stopped for safety reasons with 15 laps left. After a lot of head-scratching about rules and regulations, Jordan driver Giancarlo Fisichella was awarded the race several days later. It was his first win, in his 110th Grand Prix.

1935
Throwing underarm in a basketball exhibition, Harold 'Bunny' Levitt landed 499 free throws in a row, then missed the 500th. He then hit another 371 in a row - but he failed, really!

1958
The first five-figure winner's cheque in any golf Major. It was won by Arnold Palmer of course, the star who almost single-handedly brought the game a surge of popularity and dollars. In the Masters today, he owed his first Major win to Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins, who missed holeable putts at the last.

Two greats of golf: Arnold Palmer pictured with Tiger Woods © Getty Images
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Other winners of the Masters on the same day: Craig Wood in 1941, three strokes clear of Byron Nelson; Jimmy Demaret leading from start to finish in 1947 to win the event for the second time; and the great Sam Snead, who overcame high winds to post the only under-par total in 1952.

1900
The first world heavyweight title fight to end in the first round. Jim Jeffries had been champion for a year and this was his second defence. Jeff was no more than a big lump, really. He won four title fights against class acts like Bob Fitzsimmons and Jim Corbett, but only because he outweighed them by as much as three stone. They cut him to pieces in every fight, but he took the punishment and wore them out. No need for anything like that today. How anyone allowed poor Jack Finnegan into the same ring is hard to understand. Not only was he four stone lighter than Jeffries, this was the last of his six recorded pro fights and he won only one of them! He had the gall to throw the first punch, but didn't throw any more. Jeff knocked him down with a left hook, then another, and for the third time with a blow to the stomach. It was all over in 55 seconds.

1934
Anton Geesink was born in Holland. The first European to mess with Japanese heads in judo, he beat them in the premier class at the World Championships. In the open class in 1961, he became the first non-Japanese to win a world title. Four years later he won again, at heavyweight. When judo was introduced rather conveniently to the Olympic Games at Tokyo in 1964, the locals hoped for four gold medals. They got three, but Geesink was too big and strong (6' 6 and 19 stone) for Akio Kaminaga in the open final. The Dutch giant had won his semi-final in twelve seconds by throwing Australia's Theodore Boronovskis, who was about half his size. Geesink won 13 European titles and lived in a street named after him in his birthplace Utrecht.

1931
This was France's last rugby match in the Five Nations before they were ostracised on suspicion of professionalism until after the War. They gave themselves a good send-off with the narrowest possible win over England in Paris, thanks to drop goals being worth more than tries. England went ahead through a converted try by John Tallent, but Marcel Baillette's drop goal reduced the difference to a single point by half-time. Then the seesaw started up. Tries by Jean Galia for France, Don Burland for England after switching to the wing, André Clady for France a minute later, a converted one by Robert Smeddle. With France 13-10 down, Géo Gérald landed their second drop goal of the game. Under today's points values, they would have lost. As it was, they went into hibernation with a 14-13 win and two fingers to everyone.

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