The moment Mike Tyson decided to nibble Evander Holyfield's ears. Since losing his world titles and aura of invincibility to Buster Douglas (February 11, 1990) and being jailed for rape (March 25, 1995), Tyson had worked his way back up, taking the WBC heavyweight title from Frank Bruno (March 16, 1996) and the WBA title from Bruce Seldon. Then he defended the latter against Holyfield later that year - and found himself exposed. At his peak, you'd have backed him to destroy Holyfield, who was better at cruiserweight and went in at odds of 15-1. But this wasn't Iron Mike any more. Holyfield didn't just beat him, he beat him up. Every time Tyson set himself for a big punch, Holyfield punched him first, knocking him down in the sixth and stopping him in the 11th. Tyson must have expected more of the same in the return fight tonight - so his fuse was short and ready. It was lit in the second round, when Holyfield charged in and butted Tyson (accidentally, according to the referee), re-opening the cut over his right eye which had postponed the fight from May. If Tyson had channelled his fury into his fists, he might have stopped Holyfield: in the third round, he caught him with a series of combinations. But Tyson's blood was up, and punches weren't enough. He put an arm round Holyfield's neck, drew him in, and bit a chunk out of his right ear. When Holyfield pulled away in pain, the referee docked Tyson two points - but let him fight on. Whereupon Irate Mike bit Holyfield's other ear. This time the referee stopped it. One bite isn't so bad, apparently, but two is a tad excessive, chaps. It was just about the most astounding thing seen in any Championship fight. Even in defeat, Mike Tyson was the one you couldn't take your eyes off. Jokes about hungry fighters were inevitable. So was his decline. He never won a world title again.
The first player ever to be disqualified from Wimbledon was (get this) Tim Henman, of all choirboy impersonators - for slamming a ball into a ballgirl's head. Cheesed off after making a bad shot, Terrible Tim accidentally caught Caroline Hall as she crossed the court to retrieve a ball. Henman was playing a doubles match with Jeremy Bates against Sweden's Henrik Holm and Jeff Tarango of the USA. A fun irony here, because later in the tournament Tarango became the first player to walk out of a singles match at Wimbledon. During his match with Germany's Alexander Mronz, Tarango accused umpire Bruno Rebeuh of being the most corrupt in the game. As Rebeuh retreated to the changing rooms, Tarango's French wife Bénédicte gave him a bit of a slap. 'I did it to defend the players,' she said.
In rugby union, the British & Irish Lions won a Test series in South Africa again. After scoring two tries to take the first Test in Cape Town (June 21), they didn't score any in winning the second in Durban. But there are other ways of skinning a Springbok. The Lions picked Neil Jenkins at full-back, not for his all-round game but his goalkicking, which was the most reliable in world rugby. He landed five penalty goals in the first Test and another five here, in complete contrast with South Africa, who missed every one. Henry Honiball wasted two penalties in the first six minutes, Percy Montgomery another one before half-time. And they didn't convert any of their three tries. They dominated just about every phase of the game, their forwards reacting like bee-stung bulls to the result of the first Test - so South Africa led 15-9 with 15 minutes left, Montgomery scoring a try on his debut. But the Lions' defence kept them in it, and so did Jenkins's boot. He landed two more penalty goals to level the scores with five minutes left, and the Lions would probably have settled for that. But Jeremy Guscott didn't. One of the great attacking centres, all pace and glide and 31 international tries, he showed another skill here by dropping the winning goal. The Lions lost the final Test heavily, but the tour isn't remembered for that.
Terry Fox died of cancer. In 1977 his right leg was amputated above the knee. In 1980 he set off on his Marathon of Hope, five months running across Canada, covering 25 miles a day. He completed 3,339 miles before the cancer spread to his lungs. Fox hoped to raise $100,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, but collected nothing like that amount. Donations amounted to $24 million.
The first mixed-race boxer to win a British title was called Dick Turpin, but this was no highway robbery. He was already the Empire (Commonwealth) middleweight champion, and in the rain at Villa Park he boxed superbly to keep British champion Vince Hawkins at bay. Hawkins was strong and confident and fancied his chances early on, but Turpin won easily on points. Three years later, Turpin's brother Randolph won the world middleweight title (July 10).
Britain's track and field men retained the European Cup in St Petersburg. Doug Walker won the 200 metres, Mark Richardson the 400, Colin Jackson the 110 metres hurdles, Jonathan Edwards the triple jump, and the baton boys both relays. Walker failed a drugs test that year but was acquitted in 1999. Russia retained the women's title.
David Duckham was born in Coventry. No-one looked better on a rugby field. Tall, with flying blond hair and the best sidestep of all time, he formed a famous centre partnership with John Spencer before moving to the left wing - and being ignored for three years. England were poor throughout the 1970s, so Duckers finished on the losing side in 24 of his 36 matches for them - partly because he didn't get enough of the ball. A cartoon showed a plaque on the pitch at Twickenham, to commemorate the time he actually received a pass! So he scored only 10 tries for England, including one on his debut in 1969, two in his Lazarus match against France in 1973 (February 24), and another with a classic sidestep in a rare win over Wales on March 16, 1974. He found more gainful employment with the Lions, helping them win the famous 1971 series in New Zealand, where he scored a record six tries in a single match (June 17). If he'd known about upper-body strength and conditioning methods, he said, he would have been ever faster. And his confidence wasn't always high for such a star: he dwelt on some missed tackles in South Africa. But he captained Coventry when they won the English Cup in consecutive years, scoring three tries in the Finals. And he was a star of the Barbarians' famous win over the All Blacks in 1973 (January 27).
Tatyana Kazankina of the USSR became the first woman to run 1500 metres in under four minutes. Her time of 3:56.0 shattered the previous best of 4:01.4 set at the 1972 Olympics. Kazankina broke the world record twice more: her 3:52.47 set in 1980 is still an unapproachable European record. A very fast finisher despite a skeletal frame, she won three Olympic gold medals before being banned for refusing to take a drugs test.
Joe Louis was knocked down by too many boxers to be an all-time great. He did win 26 world heavyweight title fights, but most of them were against opponents who shouldn't have been in the same ring. One of those was Two Ton Tony Galento today. Galento didn't weight two tons, but at 16½ stone he was over two heavier than Louis despite being only five foot nine. He was basically a balding barrel of blubber, with a midriff that drooped over his waistband. But Two Ton Tony wasn't box-office just for that. He could punch his weight. Take your eyes off his belly and keep them on his fists. Louis, as usual, didn't do that. He was staggered by a right hand in the very first round, and although he overturned the tub of lard in the second, he was down himself in the third. Embarrassment. Louis put an end to the nonsense in the fourth, but it was another dent in his reputation. TTT won his next fight by thumbing poor Lou Nova in the eye, then lost his next two to the Baer brothers.