On This Day

  • January 17 down the years

Sir Clive is caught out

The sporting events of January 17 down the years
Sir Clive Woodward made a rare blunder © Getty Images
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1981
Clive Woodward didn't often put a foot wrong as England manager - or as a player in the Grand Slam win on March 15, 1980. But he stepped in to lose England their opening match in defence of the Five Nations title. To be fair, he was caught by a ruse that was subsequently outlawed, but it was common practice at the time and Sir Clive might have guessed. Near the end of the game, Wales scrum-half Brynmor Williams pretended to pass from the back of a scrum. Woodward took a step forward and was caught offside; Steve Fenwick kicked the penalty that won the match 21-19. England full-back 'Dusty' Hare had scored all of England's points, including a try. Right at the death, he had the chance to snatch the lead back from a narrow angle, but couldn't repeat his big moment of February 16 the previous year. His penalty kick went just wide.

1942
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay in Kentucky. What's left to say about him? Before he fought all those fights too many, this was two all-time greats in one. No other heavyweight moved like he did before they took his title away in 1967. No-one else thought of fighting George Foreman from the ropes on October 30, 1974. Footwork and brainwork. The Greatest? As a boxer, quite possibly. As a man who refused to fight Vietnamese people who 'never called me nigger', right up there.

1953
Two great 18-year-olds won singles titles at the Australian tennis Championships. Maureen Connolly (born September 17, 1934) played in only this one Aussie final, beating fellow American Julie Sampson in straight sets. And Ken Rosewall (born November 2, 1934) won his first Grand Slam singles title by beating another Australian, Merv Rose, also without dropping a set.

1940
Kip Keino was born. One of the legendary middle distance runners of the 1960s - but in his speciality, the 1500 metres and one mile, 'legend' here means 'myth'. He didn't set a world record in either, and like the other Kenyans and Ethiopians who won gold at the 1968 Olympics, he was fantastically lucky that they were held at altitude, which he knew all about in his native Kenya. At sea level, he would have had no chance against American wonderboy Jim Ryun, who beat Keino by thirty yards when he smashed the 1500 metres world record. And Keino was outkicked in the 1500 in 1972 and the 5000 in 1968. The gold medal in the 1972 steeplechase should have been a consolation prize rather than a bonus. No wonder he called his daughter Olympia. Still, this was a much-loved competitor, with his toothy smile and fast times. He set world records at 3000 and 5000 metres, and won the mile and three miles at the 1966 Commonwealth Games, and the mile again in 1970. And lucky or not, that 1968 run was prodigious: an exceptional Olympic record set at altitude. Not bad for someone who'd dropped out of the 10,000 with a gall bladder infection!

2004
Todd Woodbridge and Jonas Björkman beat the top-seeded Bryan twins Bob and Mike to win the Adidas International. It was Woodbridge's 79th men's doubles title, a new ATP record. He equalled Tom Okker's record the previous year in Björkman's home town Stockholm and broke it in his own home town Melbourne.

1920
The first player to score in four different ways during an international rugby match. Try, conversion, penalty goal, drop goal. Jerry Shea's famous selfishness cost Wales their next match, in Scotland - but here in Swansea he won the match on his own. England scored first through a converted try by winger Harold Day, who was brought in at the last minute. Almost literally. Wilfrid Lowry had been photographed in the team line-up, but then it rained and the selectors made the switch. England were still ahead 5-3 at half-time, but lost 19-5. 37-year-old prop Harry Uzzell was recalled to captain Wales for the first time.

1908
Cus D'Amato was born in the Bronx. Manager, trainer, and keeper on straight and narrow of the two youngest world heavyweight champions, Floyd Patterson and Mike Tyson, plus that body-punching light-heavy champ José Torres. Constantine D'Amato invented the peek-a-boo used by Tyson and especially Patterson. If he'd stayed around, Tyson might have stayed out of all that trouble. Instead D'Amato died a year before Iron Mike won the word title.

1999
Talking of Tyson, he won his comeback fight, his first since supplementing his diet with Evander Holyfield's earlobes on June 28, 1997. In the same Las Vegas ring, he knocked out Frans Botha with a stun-gun right hand in the fifth - then went to help him up. Holyfield's ears must have pricked up when he heard that.

1953
The first official world record in the main all-round swimming event. Frank O'Neill of Australia swam the 400 metres individual medley in 5 minutes 48.5. At the 2008 Olympics, someone called Michael Phelps set a world record of 4 minutes 03.84.

1959
Lutz Hesslich was born in East Germany. Whisper it to Sir Chris, but this was arguably the greatest sprint cyclist of all time. If he hadn't been a product of the East German system, with the suspicions that go with it, there might be no argument at all. Hesslich was Olympic champion in 1980 and 1988, missing the 1984 Games through the Eastern Bloc boycott. He won the world amateur title six times from 1979 to 1988. In that period, Koichi Nakano won most of his ten consecutive world pro titles - but everyone knew they were only achieved in someone' s absence.

1941
The extraordinary Henry Armstrong (born December 12, 1912) fought the last of his 26 world title fights. In October, he'd lost a unanimous decision to tough Fritzie Zivic. This time Zivic stopped him in the 12th. Hustlin' Hank had another 49 fights after this, including a non-title win over Zivic and a handover to the next generation: a points defeat by Sugar Ray Robinson (born 3 May 1921) in 1943.

1971
No so much the Super Bowl, they said. More the Blunder Bowl. A game full of mistakes included eleven turnovers, seven of them by the winners. For the first and only time, the Super Bowl MVP finished on the losing side: Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley for intercepting two passes. It was that kind of game. The Cowboys led 13-6 going into the fourth quarter, but the Baltimore Colts equalised then won the game with five seconds left, their rookie kicker Jim O'Brien putting over a field goal from 32 yards.

2001
Britain's short-course specialist Mark Foster broke the world record for the 50 metre butterfly. He'd set two records in the event in 1995 and now regained it by becoming the first swimmer to go under 23 seconds. His 22.87 lasted until December and wasn't equalled as a British record until 2009.

1986
Tim Witherspoon became one of the few boxers to regain the world heavyweight title. Or rather win a version of it after losing another one. It's been that way for a while now. Having lost the WBC belt to Pinklon Thomas in 1984, Terrible Tim won the WBA title on a majority decision over Tony Tubbs.

1982
In his big year, British triple jumper Keith Connor reached 17.16 metres in Melbourne to break the Commonwealth record that had stood since 1968. He went on to win gold at the European Championships, retain his Commonwealth Games title, and set a personal best of 17.57 at altitude. His wind-assisted 17.72 and 17.81 at the Commonwealths showed his potential in the event: 17.27 would have brought gold instead of his bronze at the 1984 Olympics. His best of 17.57 was a British record until Jonathan Edwards suddenly improved in 1995.

1961
Maya Chiburdanidze was born. Only 17 when she became world chess champion in 1978, she took the title from another Georgian, Nona Gaprindashvili, who'd held it since 1962. Chiburdanidze defended it successfully four times before losing to China's Xie Jun in 1991. She reached the semi-finals in 2001 and 2004, losing to the eventual world champion each time.

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