80 CE — The first Games of Flavian Ampitheatre are held

The Flavian Ampitheatre – better known today as the Colosseum in Rome – was constructed between 72 and 80 CE. It is called Flavian because that was the name of the Imperial House that built it, Emperor Vespasian and his sons and successors Titus and Domitan being the three Emperors most associated with the building.

In addition to the gladiatorial contests, chariot races and executions that it is remembered for, the Colosseum was also the site of animal hunts, mock naval and land engagements (often re-enactments of famous battles) and theatrical presentations. It could seat 50,000 people at peak capacity, and continued to be used as a site for entertainments after the fall of Rome.

It was later used variously as a quarry, a fortress, housing, workshops and religious shrines. Today, it is an archaeological and tourist site, one of Rome’s premier attractions from the Imperial Roman era.

1911 — Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Tent begins at the Ardlethan Show

Jimmy Sharman’s Boxing Tent is perhaps the best known – and most notorious – of the various traveling outback boxing shows that once went from town to town in Australia. It put on displays of bare-knuckle boxing as well as occasional bouts where locals could try their luck against the professional boxers.

It was a brutal sport, and often exploitative – but it was also one of the few ways a black man could make a living, albeit a dangerous one that might leave you maimed. The outback boxing circuit flourished for a few decades, but it largely faded away by the time of World War Two.

June 4, 1913 — Emily Davison runs in front of a horse at the Epsom Derby

No one really knows what Emily Davison had in mind when she ran in front of the racehorse Amner that day. She had already established herself as a determined and clever protester – seriously, take a look at some her prior stunts – and it can’t be ruled out that this was intended as another one.

She was carrying a suffragette banner, so some sort of protest was probably intended. She was also carrying a return train ticket and a ticket for dance being held by the Suffragettes later that day, so it’s unlikely that she intended to die. Most likely, she expected the horse to stop.

For whatever reason, the horse did not. Davison was trampled and died four days later of a fractured skull. Whether it was her intent or not, she became a martyr to the Suffragette movement.

Daily Sketch front page, 9 June 1913

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Emily Davison — Greg Kihn

July 17, 1941 — Joe DiMaggio’s record hitting streak finally ends

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio was one of the all time greats of baseball, and no greater proof exists than his hitting streak record. From May 15 to July 16, 1941, he hit an unbroken streak of 56 games, a record that still stands. (The next highest hitting streak is 44 games in a single season, achieved by both Pete Rose and Willie Keeler – Keller also hit in the last game of his prior season too, giving him a 45 game streak overall.) Even after the end of the streak, DiMaggio hit another 17 game streak (and his record of hitting in 73 out of 74 games also remains unbroken).

DiMaggio’s team was the New York Yankees – who won the pennant in ten of the thirteen years that DiMaggio played for them. DiMaggio’s 1941 season was his last for some years – in 1942, he enlisted in the US Army, although he saw no combat, being assigned safely to a behind-the-lines role. His parents spent the war interned as supposed ‘enemy aliens’. DiMaggio would return to pro baseball in 1946, and played until 1951.

October 8, 1949 — DiMaggio leads the New York Yankees to victory in the World Series

It wasn’t quite a lockout, but it was close. The 1949 World Series, played between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees, was played one five successive days, October 5 to October 9. The Yankees won the first game, the Dodgers the second, but then Joltin’ Joe led the Yankees to three straight wins to claim the series.

DiMaggio retired two years later, at the end of the 1951 season. Four years later, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

December 11, 1951 — Joe Di Maggio retires from professional baseball

One of the game’s true greats, Joe Di Maggio played his entire pro baseball career with a single team, the New York Yankees. A center fielder, Di Maggio’s greatest achievement came at bat: his record hitting streak of 56 consecutive games remains unequaled more than seventy years on.

Di Maggio’s retirement came at the end of his thirteenth season, one of the worst he had ever played due to age (Joltin’ Joe was now 37, old for a pro baller) and injuries catching up to him – he later stated that even had he had a much better season, he would still have retired, as he felt that he was getting too slow (and enduring too much pain) to keep playing.

September 23, 1952 – Rocky Marciano becomes world Heavyweight Champion

Rocky Marciano had been a professional boxer for only a little over four years when he defeated Jersey Joe Walcott in Philadelphia. The 29 year old boxer defeated Walcott in a round 13 knockout, after a slow start that saw him behind on points for most of the bout.

Marciano would hold the World Heavyweight Champion title for three and a half years, successfully defending it six times before he retired from professional boxing on April 27, 1956. (Floyd Patterson would be the next holder of the title.)

May 3, 1957 — The Brooklyn Dodgers agree to relocate to California

In 1957, there were no professional baseball teams in the World Series (that is, the baseball league of the USA) west of Missouri. In 1958, that would all change, and it was largely thanks to one man: Walter O’Malley, who owned the Dodgers from 1950 until 1979. He took the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles – from Ebbets Field to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – and also persuaded the managers of the New York Giants (traditional rivals of the Dodgers) to relocate their team to San Francisco, preserving the rivalry (well, sort of).

To say that O’Malley is a controversial figure in baseball is little like saying that there’s a bright light in the sky called the Sun. Even today, he is still hated in some parts of Brooklyn – the Dodgers might have been a bunch of bums, but they were Brooklyn’s bums, dammit!

September 25, 1962 — Sonny Liston defeats Floyd Patterson

Charles L. ‘Sonny’ Liston pushed hard to get his shot at the title. He was a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who occasionally went a little too far – as in 1956, when he was charged with assault and served six months before being paroled. He was a strong fighter who won a large number of his fights by knockout. When Floyd Patterson finally let him in, after months of refusing on the grounds of Liston’s supposed Mob ties, he didn’t waste the opportunity.

Liston knocked Patterson out in the first round, winning the title of World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. On July 22 of the following year, he did it again in the rematch.

But his triumph was short-lived. Cassius Clay beat him in their first bout in 1964, and again in 1965 (although by that time, Clay had renamed himself Muhammad Ali). Liston continued to fight, and won most of his bouts. He retired from professional boxing in 1970, and later died in early 1971, in suspicious circumstances.

February 25, 1964 — Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston

Generally acknowledged as one of the greatest – if not, as he so often proclaimed, “the greatest” – Cassius Clay, or Muhammad Ali as he is better known, first fought Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964 in Miami Beach, Florida. Clay was an up and comer who had won Olympic gold for boxing in 1960, and had recently defeated the British Heavyweight champion, Henry Cooper. Liston was the reigning World Heavyweight champion, who had knocked out Floyd Patterson in the first round of their title bout.

Coming into the bout, Liston and Clay were each immensely unpopular – Clay was seen as boastful and Liston was a convicted criminal – but most agreed that the champion would hold onto his title. 43 out of 46 sportswriters predicted that Liston would win with a knockout. In the event, Clay defeated Liston in the sixth round, although the match was not awarded until Liston refused to leave his corner at the bell beginning the seventh. Clay was declared the winner by a technical knockout.

The following year, in the rematch, Clay – now calling himself the more familiar Muhammad Ali – knocked out Liston in the first round of their rematch. Ali would go on to be the most successful heavyweight boxer of the modern era, but Liston would never again reach so high.

Ali the greatest 1976.jpg
By El Gráfico team of photographers – El Gráfico, Public Domain, Link

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Black Superman — Johnny Wakelin