On This Day

  • February 6 down the years

What's in a name?

Muhammad Ali had all the tools © Getty Images
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1967
What's in a name? Ernie Terrell found out tonight. The WBA, in their wisdom, had set up their own world heavyweight championship, which Terrell won in 1965. This while someone called Muhammad Ali was ruling the roost. Called Muhammad Ali - but not by our Ernie. Throughout his training for their 'unification' fight, he insisted on referring to his opponent as Cassius Clay, when Ali had changed his name three years earlier. Brave man. There's no truth in the legend that Ali kept Terrell upright for the full 15 rounds so he could hit him as long as possible. He wanted to end it in the eighth, he said, but the tall man was brave and durable. So he settled for winning on points - and winning the war of words. In the ninth round, Ali began posing the question 'What's my name?' in between punches. Not that poor Ernie had enough breath to answer with. In 1970, his sister replaced Diana Ross in The Supremes. What's her name?

1895
George Herman Ruth was born in Baltimore. Even after all these years, 'Babe' Ruth is still the most famous name in baseball. He won the World Series four times with the New York Yankees, but it's the individual that matters here. In 1927, he became the first player to hit 60 home runs in a season, setting a record that lasted until 1961. His career total of 714 home runs wasn't broken until 1974. It's that slugging which made him such a folk hero, fitting in with an expansive postwar age and moving baseball away from the 'dead ball era' of Ty Cobb into the power game it still is. Unlike the slim saturnine Cobb, he was big and round and uncomplicated. So they loved him as much as they disliked Cobb. Still do.

1978
The first match on the first day of the first World Championship produced one of the great shocks in darts. No. 1 seed Eric Bristow lost to the unknown Conrad Daniels, whose slow play messed with Bristow's rhythm. Not such a Crafty Cockney. Daniels lost to fellow American Nicky Virachkul in the next round and won only this one match in his three visits to the Championship, enough to be remembered forever. Leighton Rees met John Lowe in the final on February 10. Bristow won the first of his five world titles on February 9 two years later.

1999
The fastest try in any international rugby match. Against Wales at Murrayfield, Scotland switched the kick-off towards new cap Matt Robinson on the wing. Former All Black Shane Howarth went to catch the kick, only for John Leslie to rip it away from him and dive over. Nine seconds had gone. Wales recovered from the shock to lead 13-8 at half-time but Scotland scored three more tries and won 33-20. The fastest try before today was also scored against Wales, on January 20, 76 years earlier.

1971
The first golf ball on the Moon. American astronaut Alan Shepard attached the head of a six-iron to the handle of a lunar sample scoop. His bulky space gear meant he could use only one hand, but he still drove the ball further than anyone else.

2005
New England Patriots retained the Super Bowl by edging Philadelphia Eagles 24-21. Philly quarterback Donovan McNabb hit some high highs and deep lows, throwing for 357 yards and three touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions and was sacked four times. His opposite number Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, and Adam Vinatieri kicked his usual field goal. New England wide receiver Deion Branch was voted MVP.

1947
British lightweight Len Wickwar fought his last fight. He was knocked out in the fifth round by Danny Cunningham, but probably quite enjoyed the lie-down by then. He was 35 and had been fighting as a professional since 1928. This was the 465th bout of his pro career, the most by any boxer in history. His 337 wins are also a record, but he lost his share.

1968
Sportsmanship may be its own reward, but a gold medal or two makes a nice bonus. After two silvers in 1956, two bronzes in 1964, and the help he gave to the British winners on February 1, 1964, the great Eugenio Monti deserved the two golds he won at the age of 40. The first today in the two-man bob, then in the four-man. At first, he had to share the two-man prize with West Germany after they clocked exactly the same time, but then they were split by the fastest single run. The rules were changed too late for Horst Floth and Pepi Bader.

1870
Jimmy Braid was born in Scotland. Golf's Great Triumvirate really were great. Harry Vardon won the British Open six times, still the record. John H Taylor won it five times. So did Braid, who had the most successful decade in the event's history. From 1901 to 1910, he achieved his five wins as well as finishing second three times. In 1908 he won by eight shots and broke the record for the lowest round (70) and total (291) in any Major, superb scoring with the equipment available. Tall and quiet, he destroyed courses with his ability to 'drive with divine fury'.

1993
After winning the WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight titles from Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe threw the WBC belt in a bin on December 14 and defended the other two against Michael Dokes. It didn't take long. Dokes had won the WBA title on December 10 eleven years earlier, but he was 34 by now and a shot fighter. Bowe did all the shooting in the two minutes the mismatch lasted. Dokes was one of the very few boxers to win and lose world title fights in one round.

Riddick Bowe was totally dominant against the ageing Michael Dokes © Getty Images
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1949
Manuel Orantes was born in Granada. A talented and toothy tennis player like his hero Manuel Santana, he started brightly, playing in a Davis Cup final when he was 18. In 1972, he won the Italian and German Opens, second only to the French on the clay court circuit. But it looked as if that was as high as he was going to go. At the French itself, he was famous for collapsing in the 1974 final. Against a Björn Borg who'd only just turned 18, Orantes won the first set 6-2. The second went to a tie-break, but he won that 7-1. Then suddenly and completely, he fell apart. Borg lost only two games in the next three sets and won the first of his record six French titles. Luckily for Orantes, the US Open was played on clay for a few years, and he beat Jimmy Connors in straight sets in the 1975 final. Almost enough to alter his reputation as a choker.

1972
Until now, Japan had won just a single medal at the Winter Olympics. They quadrupled that total today. The Games were held in Sapporo and ski-jumper Yukio Kasaya was favourite to win the normal hill. He coped well with the pressure, and so did Akitsugu Konno and Seiji Aochi, who won the minor medals in front of 100,000 spectators who welcomed them down with open arms. Japan have been a force in Olympic ski jumping ever since.

1864
George Hillyard was born in Middlesex. Runner-up in the doubles at Wimbledon in 1889 and 1890, he missed a place in the 1901 singles decider only because Arthur Gore saved a match point with a net cord. Hilliard partnered Reggie Doherty at the 1908 Olympic Games in London. They survived seven match points in the semi-final before winning the final in three long sets. It wasn't a vintage tournament. Doherty had once been a great player but he was 35 now and his health was so bad he died two years later. And Hillyard was 44. He was secretary of the All-England club from 1907 to 1925. His wife Blanche reached 13 more Wimbledon singles finals than he did.

1879
Joe Deakin was born in Stoke-on-Trent. One of Britain's forgotten track and field gold medallists, he helped win the three miles team event at the 1908 Olympics. After that gold medal in the morning, he failed to finish his five-mile heat in the afternoon. A champagne lunch saw to that.

1885
Charles Bartlett was born in London. He had to go some to win an Olympic gold medal. 100 kilometres, no less. Two hundred, in fact. A heat as well as a final. One of several British cycling winners at the 1908 Games, he fell during the 100k final and damaged his bike. With rain bucketing down, he found a replacement but had to go back and start where he'd fallen. After all those kilometres, he found the strength to win a sprint finish by two lengths.

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