On This Day

  • June 26 down the years

The night Duran punched Buchanan in the balls

Jonah Lomu was the youngest man to play rugby union for New Zealand © Getty Images
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1994
Landmarks on both sides as the All Blacks faced France in Christchurch. Jonah Lomu became the youngest man to play rugby union for New Zealand, Philippe Sella the first rugby player to win 100 caps. Lomu was a giant even at 19, a terror for opposition wings - but he didn't start on the winning side. Both teams scored a try, but the French had their kicking boots on. Thierry Lacroix supplied a conversion and two penalties, Christophe Deylaud and Jean-Luc Sadourny three drop goals between them. France won 22-8 and took the series by winning the second Test 23-20 in Auckland. At the World Cup the following year, Lomu gatecrashed the party (May 27) and Sella ended his glittering international career (June 22).

1972
The night Roberto Duran punched Ken Buchanan in the balls. Buchanan was one of Britain's all-time great boxers. Fast hands and all the skills. He won the WBA lightweight title in 1970 (September 26) and made two successful defences. Duran was the new kid on the block - and intent on taking it over. He turned 21 a few days before meeting Buchanan, and came with a reputation as a streetfighter, a swarming puncher unbeaten in 28 pro fights, including six in a row that ended in the first round. Another boxer v puncher classic for Madison Square Garden. Buchanan admitted later that he underestimated the kid - but it's hard to know what he could have done if he hadn't. He realised his mistake in the opening seconds, when he was knocked down while he was off balance - but he didn't have the weapons to correct it. His jab was fast but not heavy enough to keep the young dog at bay. He spent a lot of time against the ropes as Duran piled on the points as well as using his head in the clinches. The Kid was way ahead as the 13th round came to an end, and Buchanan didn't have the big punch to stop him. They were exchanging blows when the bell went - just as Duran hit the champ smack on the front of his tartan shorts. Buchanan collapsed holding his groin and had to be helped back to his corner. He never left it. When he couldn't come out for the 14th, the referee gave the title to Duran. The right decision? Well, he was way ahead on points, but in boxing you're not allowed to punch your opponent in the testicles. Other referees might have disqualified him. As it was, Buchanan never regained the title, though he was horribly unlucky on February 27, 1975. Meanwhile Duran became an all-time great, contesting world titles for an astonishing 26 years (August 28, 1998).

2000
Greg Rusedski reached the final of the US Open in 1997, but he wasn't particularly successful at Wimbledon, going no further than a single quarter-final. Today he famously went out in the first round to Vince Spadea, who'd lost his previous 22 matches on the ATP tour. Rusedski was the 14th seed at the time. 'I need some time away,' he announced. When he came back, he lost in the fourth round the following year to eventual champion Goran Ivanišević.

1999
Wales beat South Africa at rugby for the first time. At home, of course (they've never beaten them away), in a Millennium Stadium that wasn't quite finished. In a match between two good but not great teams, Wales scored two tries and Neil Jenkins kicked 19 points. The Springboks were 19-6 down at half-time and scored two tries after it - but it was too late to make up for their lethargy before the break, and they lost 29-19. A far cry from the match between the two countries the year before (June 27), which ended in Wales's heaviest ever defeat.

1911
'Babe' Didrikson was born Mildred Didriksen in Texas. One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, she first attracted attention in 1931, when she equalled the world record for the 100 yards - then raised everyone's eyebrows the following year. The women's AAU Championships doubled as the US Olympic trials, and the Dallas Employers Casualty Insurance Company sent a team which consisted of only one athlete. Didrikson entered eight events, winning six of them and getting the hump when she was picked for only three at the Olympics in Los Angeles. There she set a Games record in winning the javelin, a world record in winning the 80 metres hurdles, and another world record in the high jump, where she was relegated to second when her jumping style was suddenly ruled illegal. She remains the only athlete to win Olympic gold in a running event and a throw. She would have been a favourite at the 1936 Games if she hadn't fallen foul of vindictive amateur rules which banned her for appearing in a car advert. So she turned to golf instead - and became one of its legends. She won 14 tournaments in a year, the US Amateur in 1946, the British Amateur in 1947, and the US Open three times, the last in 1954, by which time she'd married giant wrestler George Zaharias and made a temporary recovery from cancer, only to eventually lose her battle in 1956.

Vitali Klitschko defeated Herbie Hide on this day © Getty Images
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1959
Floyd Patterson lost his world heavyweight title in a flood of knockouts. He'd won the vacant crown against ancient Archie Moore and defended it against four no-hopers, including Britain's Brian London (May 1) and someone making his pro debut (August 22, 1957)! His camp thought they'd picked another stiff tonight. Who was Ingemar Johansson anyway? Just some Swedish playboy who looked dreadful in training. But if something looks too bad to be true...Johansson's defence and stamina weren't much, but his right hand was a real Hammer of Thor. He'd knocked out Henry Cooper in the fifth round and earned his shot at Patterson by annihilating leading contender Eddie Machen in the first. Against Patterson, he stayed out of trouble while the champion lurked behind his peek-a-boo defence. Then in the third round, Patterson peeped over the top for a better look - and the lights went out. When he got up, Patterson was so disorientated that he wandered towards the corner, wiping his nose with his glove. The referee could have stopped it right there. Instead he allowed another six knockdowns in the same round. Johansson was the first European world heavyweight champion since June 14, 1934 and the last white boxer until Gerrie Coetzee in 1983. But Patterson showed courage and punching power by knocking him out in the rematch, then surviving two knockdowns in the decider on March 13, 1961.

1982
High jumper Diana Elliott cleared 1.95 metres to set a British record that still stands. Future world heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis equalled it in 2007.

1999
Vitali Klitschko took the WBO heavyweight belt from Britain's Herbie Hide, who'd won the vacant title by beating former IBF champion Tony Tucker. But Tucker was 40 by then, and Hide made two defences against no-name opponents. Klitschko was a big step up. A few years later, he nearly won Lennox Lewis's last fight (June 21, 2003), and even now he was a serious proposition. Two metres tall and heavily muscled, he'd won all his 24 pro fights by knockouts, mostly quick ones. No exception tonight. Hide was outweighed by a stone and a half and looked nervous from the start. A series of punches put him down twice in the second round and he was glad it didn't last any longer. He was declared bankrupt that year and convicted of possessing 'a bladed article' in 2004.

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