On This Day

  • January 20 down the years

Hatton snatches two belts by hammering Urango

The sporting events of January 20 down the years
Ricky Hatton snatched the IBF light-welterweight belt from Juan Urango on this day © Getty Images
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2007
Ricky Hatton regained a title he'd vacated to go after a different one. After becoming WBA welterweight champion the previous year, he came back down to light-welter and won a unanimous decision that took the IBF belt from Juan Urango, who'd been keeping it warm. The IBO threw in their vacant title as well. Best thing for it.

On the same day, giant Nikolai Valuev stumbled through another title defence of his WBA heavyweight title. Jameel McCline had already lost fights for the WBO and IBF heavyweight titles. Now he achieved the hat-trick by retiring with a dicky knee.

1985
Many Super Bowls are billed as a clash of the quarterback titans. This one really was. Dan Marino set dozens of NFL records in his 17-year career - but Joe Montana did better when it mattered, mainly because San Francisco 49ers had other strings to their bow. While Miami Dolphins channelled everything through their golden arm, the 49ers had a top running back in Roger Craig, who also acted as a wide receiver. While he was scoring touchdowns, there wasn't a similar threat from the Dolphins. Marino still threw for 318 yards and a touchdown - but the Dolphins' defence was leakier than the 49ers'. They allowed Montana to throw for 331 yards and three touchdowns as well as run in for a TD himself. San Francisco won 38-16. It was Marino's only trip to the Super Bowl and Don Shula's sixth as coach, which set a new record. It was also his fourth defeat, equalling another worst.

1990
England have been playing international rugby since 1871. Incredible to think that in the first 119 years no-one had scored more than 18 tries for them. In a 23-0 win over Ireland at Twickenham, Rory Underwood scored his 19th to break the paltry record set by Cyril Lowe back in 1923. Underwood left a more respectable total with his last international try on February 3, 1996.

1936
How Marcel Thil got into boxing's Hall of Fame is a real head-scratcher. He seemed to win half his fights by falling over clutching his stomach. He was gifted two versions of the world middleweight title when Gorilla Jones was disqualified in 1932, won the European title the same way, and today retained one of those world titles by dropping to his knees against poor Lou Brouillard, who was disqualified in the rematch too! All these fights took place in Paris. When Thil stepped out of the comfort zone to defend the title against Fred Apostoli in New York, he was stopped in ten rounds. Deprived of another accommodating referee, he immediately retired.

Don Thompson on his way to gold in the 50km walk at the 1960 Rome Olympics © Getty Images
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1933
Don Thompson was born in Middlesex. When he collapsed near the end of the 50 kilometre walk at the 1956 Olympics, he decided to prepare better for the next one. To acclimatise for the fierce heat of Rome, he trained in his bathroom. As you would. Filling it with paraffin heaters and steaming kettles, he worked out in 38 degree heat. It wasn't until years later that he realised his dizziness was due to the paraffin and not the heat, but by then the job was done. At the 1960 Olympics, he wore sunglasses and something like a Foreign Legion cap with a flap at the back. At the point where he'd collapsed four years before, he pulled away, finishing just 17 seconds ahead of 1948 champion John Ljunggren. Small and neat, he finished third at the next European Championships and won the national 50k title eight times, including seven in a row.

1956
John Naber was born in Illinois and went on to dethrone the great Roland Matthes as the best backstroke swimmer in the world. In 1973 he won his only World Championship medal, bronze behind Matthes. But the following year he ended the great man's seven-year unbeaten run. Matthes had an appendectomy only six weeks before the 1976 Olympics, but even at his fittest he probably wouldn't have won. Naber broke his world record in winning the 100 metres backstroke, with Matthes third, then set another in the 200 and two more in the relays. He even picked up a fifth medal by finishing second in the 200 freestyle.

1892
In a small YMCA gymnasium in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official game of basketball was played. Dr. James Naismith had invented the game late in 1891 as a way for his students to keep fit, even during the longer winter months when outdoor sport was impractical. The first match, oddly, featured nine players and finished 1-0 - with the historical shot made from 25 feet on a court half the size of that which NBA superstars play on today.

1985
The second and last day of the inaugural World Indoor Championships in athletics. Some big names stayed away, so the standard was mixed. World titles were won by Colomán Trabado, Mike Hillardt, Jan Leitner (a long jump under 8.00 metres), Xénia Siska, and Debbie Scott. But some of the alpha athletes did turn up and win gold, including Sergei Bubka, Patrik Sjöberg, and famous druggies like Ben Johnson, Marita Koch, and Grit Breuer.

1980
Pittsburgh Steelers became the first team, and Chuck Noll the only coach, to win the Super Bowl four times. Two field goals by Frank Corral gave Los Angeles Rams a 13-10 lead, but the Steelers offence was staffed by legends. Quarterback Terry Bradshaw was voted MVP for the second year in a row; Franco Harris scored Pittsburgh's first and last touchdowns, both from one yard out; and the other two came from Bradshaw's passes to wide receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. Pittsburgh won 31-19. Harris's total of 354 rushing yards is far and away the Super Bowl record. Matt Bahr, who kicked a field goal for Pittsburgh, was the son of Walter Bahr, who played in the USA's famous win over England at the 1950 football World Cup. His brother Chris kicked goals in the super Super Bowl on January 22, 1984.

1901
Cecil Griffiths was born in Worcester. Still a junior when he took part in the 1920 Olympics, he was forced to withdraw from the individual 400 metres but ran a strong opening leg in the relay, handing over in the lead so Robert Lindsay could avoid the scrum at the changeover. Britain won the gold medal by five yards. Griffiths was AAA 880 yards champion in 1923 and 1925.

1908
Martha Norelius was born in Stockholm but won swimming gold medals for the USA. The top female swimmer of the 1920s, she set a world record at 1500 metres and above all dominated the 400 freestyle. Olympic champion in 1924, she was even better in 1928, when she won the same event again, added gold in the relay, and set three world records.

1928
Lionel Hebert was born in Louisiana. He was USPGA golf champion in 1957, the last time it was staged as a matchplay event. His brother Jay won the same Major three years later.

1927
Geoffrey Atkins was born. World rackets champion from 1954 to 1971, when he vacated the title at the age of 44.

1874
Hjalmar Johansson was born in Sweden. When he won the highboard event at the 1908 Olympics, he was 34, still the oldest diver to win an Olympic gold medal. When he finished second in plain high diving four years later, he became the oldest to win a medal.

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