On This Day

  • January 2 down the years

If it's not a classic quiz question, it should be

The sporting events of January 2 down the years
Dennis Priestley won the inaugural PDC World Darts Championship © Getty Images
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1982
If it's not a classic quiz question, it should be. Who were England playing when Erika Roe ran on the pitch? No-one was paying much attention to the opposition when she appeared, bare-chested and smoking a joint. It was Australia, by the way. And England won 15-11.

1994
The first breakaway PDC world darts championship. The final was won by Dennis Priestley, who'd been BDO champion in 1991. Today he beat someone called Phil Taylor 6-1.

2006
For the second time in a darts world final (see January 5, 2002), Taylor whitewashed Peter Manley 7-0. He also beat Manley in the 1999 final, but by a nail-biting 6-2.

1868
Arthur 'Wentworth' Gore was born. When he won Wimbledon in 1908, he became the oldest man to win win Grand Slam singles title. The only British man to win Wimbledon since then was Fred Perry, who was born on May 18 in Gore's last year as champion. The ageless wonder was also a double Olympic champion, winning the singles and doubles at the indoor event in 1908. A relentless baseliner with a stinging forehand, he first won the Wimbledon singles in 1901 (saving a match point along the way) and was runner-up five times to famous champions like the Doherty brothers, Norman Brookes (born November 14 1877) and Tony Wilding (October 31, 1883). He played in the tournament for the last time in 1927, when he was 59.

1920
Len Harvey was one of boxing's class acts. A natural middleweight, he was also British champion at light-heavyweight and light-heavyweight. The Americans were too wary to let him fight for the world middleweight title, so they gave him a shot at light-heavy, where he was overmatched. That was in the 1930s. Today he fought his first fight - and seems to have set a world record. Among boxers with searchable records, he was the youngest to fight a pro fight. Len Harvey was 12 years old. His first 13 bouts were against Young somebodies, starting with Young King today, then Young Fern, Young Stanley...he fought Young Jinks four times in a row.

1967
François Pienaar was born. A close-quarters flanker who scored only three tries for South Africa, he was more of an icon than a great rugby player, made famous by Nelson Mandela wearing his No.6 shirt when handing over the World Cup in 1995. Pienaar's leadership qualities were what people wanted: he was captain in every one of his 29 internationals and led Saracens when they won the Pilkington Cup (now the Anglo-Welsh) in 1998. A film about Mandela and Pienaar came out in 2009, starring Morgan Freeman and, less predictably, Matt Damon.

1957
Gene Fullmer took the world middleweight title from Sugar Ray Robinson. It's easy to say youthful stamina made all the difference - especially when it's true. Robinson was 35, Fullmer ten years younger. He put the old man through the ropes in round seven and just kept on coming, strong enough to weather the usual Sugar storm. They met again on May 1, 1957.

1827
The shortest reign in boxing history? On this day in Hertfordshire, Peter Crawley beat a ring-rusty Jem Ward, then retired a week later. Ward immediately reclaimed the title and held it until 1831.

1980
Argentina's Guillermo Vilas retained his Australian Open title by beating big-serving American John Sadri, who'd been fined earlier in the tournament. In the all-American women's final, Sharon Walsh didn't hold her serve until the 13th game, virtually handing the title to Barbara Jordan, sister of famous doubles player Kathy.

1964
Pernell Whitaker was born in Virginia and went on to have one of the stellar boxing careers, amateur as well as professional. After winning lightweight gold at the 1984 Olympics, he used his phenomenal defence and movement to hoover up world titles at four different weights, from lightweight to light-middleweight, 1989 to 1997. His first title attempt, at José Luis Ramírez's WBC lightweight belt, ended in the only defeat in Whitaker's first 42 pro fights. He didn't lose again until Oscar de la Hoya took his WBC welterweight title in 1997.

1981
In the 200 metres butterfly, America's Mary T Meagher set a world short-course record of 2 minutes 05.65 that wasn't broken until 1999.

1912
The destination of the Davis Cup was decided. It stayed put. In Christchurch, New Zealand, Australasia took a 2-0 lead after the first day. The great Norman Brookes (born November 14, 1877) predictably beat America's No.2 Beals Wright, then Rodney Heath shocked Bill Larned (December 30, 1872) in four sets after losing the first. In the doubles today, Brookes and Alf Dunlop overcame Wright and the cannonball serves of Maurice McLoughlin to keep the Cup Down Under.

1961
Hitoshi Saito was born in Japan. Olympic heavyweight judo champion in 1984 and 1988, he also won the world title in 1983. In both his Olympic finals, he was awarded the decision for being fractionally less static than his opponent. Good going for a man-mountain of 23 stone.

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