• May 26 down the years

Ruby Robert is born

Bob Fitzsimmons was a giant of the ring © Getty Images
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1863
The great Bob Fitzsimmons was born in Cornwall but grew up and learned to box in New Zealand. Working as a blacksmith built up the shoulders and upper back that made him one of the all-time great knockout punchers. You wouldn't know it when he walked into a ring. Pale and freckly, bald head, skinny legs. But then he hit you, and you didn't like that. The first boxer to win world titles at three different weights, he began at middleweight on January 14, 1891, making a hamburger of a highly rated champion like Nonpareil Jack Dempsey. Ruby Robert's punching power made opponents wary, so he had to wait until March 17, 1897 for his shot at the heavyweight title. Maybe Jim Corbett was waiting for Fitzsimmons's big punch to get smaller with age. It didn't. Fitz then beat the marrow out of big Jim Jeffries in two title fights, but lost both because he was outweighed by more than three stone. So he shifted downstairs to the new light-heavyweight division, where he outpointed champion George Gardner on November 25, 1903. Fitz was 40 by then, but still sprightly enough to go the full 20 rounds. He had his last pro fight when he was 50 and died of pneumonia three years later. Never much more than a middleweight throughout his career, he was the hardest hitter in that division, and just possibly the best of all.

1928
India won the first of their six consecutive Olympic hockey titles by beating Holland 3-0. In five matches, they scored 29 goals and conceded none. Their gold sequence wasn't ended until September 9, 1960.

2007
Prop forward Kevin Yates played international rugby union nine years and 353 days after his previous two caps, a record gap in any England career. In the absence of players from the top clubs and some injured regulars, Yates was part of a makeshift squad with seven new caps: not the formula for victory in South Africa. An unrecognisable team lost 58-10 in Bloemfontein, and Yates won his last cap in a 55-22 defeat in Pretoria. He finished on the losing side in the last three of his four international matches.

1955
A great Italian driver died at Monza. Alberto Ascari was there to watch a friend testing a sports car. Just before leaving, Ascari decided to have a spin in the new machine. In street clothes and a borrowed helmet, he was thrown out when the car skidded and somersaulted. The parallels with the death of his father Antonio were uncanny. They were both 36 when they died in very similar crashes on the 26th of the month. Antonio won the Italian and Belgian Grands Prix in the 1920s. Alberto won the German Grand Prix in 1950, then again in the next two years when it became a World Championship event. He started only 31 Championships races but won 13 of them, including a record nine in a row. Smooth and very fast, something of a chubby matinée idol, he was the last Italian driver to win the world title, in 1952 and 1953.

Four days before his death, Ascari had been pulled out in time after crashing into the harbour in Monaco. On the anniversary of that race, it was staged a number of times.

In 2002, David Coulthard won it for the second time. Juan Pablo Montoya started on pole, but engine failure ended his race after 46 laps. Coulthard, who started second on the grid, wiped away the horrors of the previous year by holding off Michael Schumacher.

In 1963, reigning world champion Graham Hill won in Monaco for the first time. It was the opening round of the World Championship that year. Jim Clark started on pole but gearbox trouble forced him out. He won the next four races to take the tile from Hill...

...who not only won the race for the fourth time in 1968 but regained the world title. This time he led all the way from pole position and beat the unheralded Richard Attwood, who had the only podium finish of his short Formula 1 career. On May 18, 1969, Hill won Monaco for the fifth time, a record until Ayrton Senna on May 23, 1993.

Ronnie Peterson won the Monaco Grand Prix in 1974 after pole sitter Niki Lauda's ignition let him down. Émerson Fittipaldi finished fifth on his way to regaining the world title.

Sergei Bubka took pole vaulting to a new level © Getty Images
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On the same day in 1958, Stirling Moss won the Dutch Grand Prix. The little known Stuart Lewis-Evans started from pole, but a faulty valve cost him the race. Moss won easily from Harry Schell, but Mike Hawthorn's fifth place kept him in contention for the deciding race on October 19. Stuart-Evans died soon after crashing in that race.

1984
Pole vault legend Sergei Bubka set his first world record. His 5.85 metres broke the 5.83 achieved by Thierry Vigneron the previous year. Bubka broke the record another four times that year and set the current one on July 31, ten years later.

2007
Another world record in athletics, but one that didn't last long. It was Tatyana Lysenko's fourth in the hammer throw. Her 78.61 metres broke the 77.80 she'd set the year before. But it was deleted from the list when she tested positive for drugs. The usual leniency meant she returned to win the Russian title in 2009.

1995
Gavin Hastings was a real rabbit killer today. In a rugby World Cup match against the Ivory Coast, he set Scotland records that still stand by kicking nine conversions and racking up 44 points. He scored four tries, missed five kicks at goal, including one that hit a post, and scored the first 27 points of the match. He scored another 31, four days later. Ivory Coast lost 89-0. They were the first team not to score in a World Cup finals match - which meant precisely nothing after what happened to their winger Max Brito on June 3.

1984
Swimmer Andy Jameson set his first two British records in the 100 metres butterfly. He set two more in one day at the Olympics later that year and his 11th in winning bronze at the 1988 Games. His first British record was 55.42, his last a world class 53.30 that wasn't broken until 1996. Jameson went on to become a lively and informative TV commentator in partnership with Adrian Moorhouse.

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