On This Day

  • December 11 down the years

The Greatest hangs up his gloves

The sporting events of December 11 down the years
Muhammad Ali: The greatest © Getty Images
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1981
At last, a few years and a few hundred punches too late, Muhammad Ali fought his last fight. At the age of 39, he lost a 10-round decision to Jamaica's Trevor Berbick, who hadn't trained hard for the fight and showed compassion during it.

2008
Tim Catling became the first player since 1934 to score three tries in the Varsity match. He scored all three in the first half to help Oxford beat Cambridge 33-29 in a thriller. The record in this fixture was set on the same day back in 1909, when Ronnie Poulton scored five tries and Hugh Martin four as Oxford thrashed Cambridge 35-3 (worth 53-5 today). Martin scored another three in the Varsity match the following year.

2004
Vitali Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title in a mismatch against Britain's Danny Williams. The fight somehow reached the eighth round, and one-sided doesn't begin to describe it. It's just as quick to list the rounds in which Williams wasn't knocked down. Second, fourth, fifth, and sixth, since you ask.

1983
Nineteen-year-old Mats Wilander beat Ivan Lendl to win the Australian Open for the first time. Wilander retained it the following year and regained it in 1988. Lendl hadn't won a Grand Slam title at the time (this was his fourth final); he won his first the following year and took the two Australian Opens immediately after Wilander, in 1989 and 1990.

1926
At the inaugural world championships in table tennis, finals day was dominated by Hungary, who won all four titles. In the men's singles, Roland Jacobi beat compatriot Zoltán Mechlovits in three straight games, but the last two were close: he won the second 24-22 then led 20-9 in the third. Mechlovits saved ten match points in a row (yes, really) before losing it 21-19. Mária Mednyánszky won the women's singles 21-15 21-19 against Dolly Gubbins of Wales, who saved five match points in a row only to serve a fault right at the end. Another British player, Linda Gleeson, lost in the mixed doubles final.

1985
In an ice hockey match in Chicago, the almighty Wayne Gretzky made seven assists to help the Edmonton Oilers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 12-9. The 21 goals in the game equalled the NFL record set in 1920.

1887
Reg Edwards was born. A prop forward who was part of England's tearaway pack in the early 1920s, he helped to win three Grand Slams. In 1921 he appeared in all four matches and scored a try against Scotland. His last international ended in defeat by New Zealand and he wasn't impressed at being bitten in a match against France.

1969
America's Olympic champion Bill Toomey set a world record of 8,417 points for the decathlon. The following week, he married Britain's Olympic champion Mary Rand.

1942
Karen Susman was born in California. She was still Karen Hantze and only 18 years old when she and 17-year-old Billie Jean Moffitt (later King, born November 22 1943) surprised everyone by winning the Wimbledon doubles title. In the final, they not only beat the Australians Jan Lehane and mighty Margaret Smith but did it in straight sets. The following year, they retained the title, and the young newly-wed Susman also won the singles by winning the Final against Vera Suková, Helena's mum. It was the only time Susman went beyond the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam tournament. She didn't defend the title the following year and more or less gave up big-time tennis, reappearing in the singles at Wimbledon only in 1964 and 1977.

2004
Manny Pacquiao won a fight in the fourth round. Not for a world title, just against an opponent with a fun nom de guerre: Fahsan 3K Battery from Thailand, real name Narongrit Pirang, which sounds just as pugilistic.

1969
Viswanath Anand was born in India. The top chess player of recent years, he was the victim of Gary Kasparov's last successful defence, in 1995, but then won another version of the world title in 2000 before becoming the universally recognised champion in 2007 and 2008.

1999
James Hickman retained his 200 butterfly title at the European Short-Course Championships.

1974
Gete Wami was born in Ethiopia. World champion at 10,000 metres in 1999, she won silver in the Olympics the following year to go with her bronze from 1996. She also won the bronze in the 5,000 in 2000 and dropped out of the Marathon at the 2008 Games.

1970
The first day's play in the first Test ever staged in Perth. Greg Chappell made his debut.

1979
Geoff Boycott scored his only ODI hundred.

1979
In a low-scoring match, England's cricketers put an end to Western Australia's run of 31 first-class matches without defeat.

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