Tuesday, 28 May 2024

50 Years Ago in Sport

The sporting landscape has undergone significant changes over the past 50 years. Athletes, who were once admired but not quite at celebrity status, have now become household names. It was a time when legends were born, and others were bidding farewell to their careers.

Muhammad Ali’s Phantom Punch

One moment that made headlines in 1965 was Muhammad Ali’s infamous “phantom punch.” Ali, previously known as Cassius Clay, defended his world heavyweight title against Sonny Liston in a highly anticipated rematch. To everyone’s surprise, the fight ended in just one minute and 44 seconds when Liston was knocked out by a punch that no one saw coming.

Jack Nicklaus and Golf Mastery

In the world of golf, Jack Nicklaus made history by shooting a record-breaking 271 (17 under par) to win the Golf Masters tournament. This victory marked his second win at that time. Gary Player also made headlines by becoming only the third man, following Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, to win all four major championships when he triumphed in the US Open at Bellerive, Missouri.

British Triumphs in Soccer and Football

British clubs had their fair share of success in 1965. West Ham became the second British club to win a European Trophy when they defeated Bayern Munich 2-0 in the European Cup-Winners Cup final at Wembley. Meanwhile, Liverpool secured their first FA Cup title by defeating Leeds United 2-1.

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Controversial Decisions in Swimming and Cricket

1965 was not without its controversies. In Australia, the Amateur Swimming Union stunned the nation by banning Olympic champion and 1964 Australian of the Year Dawn Fraser from amateur competition for ten years. In cricket, Australian opener Doug Walters made a memorable debut by scoring his maiden Test century, amassing 155 runs.

Births of Sporting Legends

1965 also saw the birth of several notable athletes who would go on to achieve greatness. Craig Biggio, considered one of the best all-around players in MLB history, was born during this year. Mario Lemieux, a former NHL superstar, and one of the greatest players of all time, also entered the world in 1965. Cricket legends Steve Waugh, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Maninder Singh were also born in this year. Other notable athletes born in 1965 include Lennox Lewis (boxing), Rubén Sierra (baseball), Scottie Pippen (basketball), and Matt Biondi (swimming).

Remembering Sporting Heroes

Tragically, 1965 was also marked by the deaths of some notable sports figures. Freddie Mills, the world light heavyweight champion from 1948 to 1950, met a mysterious death in Soho, London. Though officially deemed suicide, many speculated that Mills’ death had darker undertones and could be attributed to a gangland ‘hit.’ In addition to Mills, cricket player Wally Hammond and college basketball legend Wayne Estes also passed away in 1965. The sports world also mourned the loss of Earl Webb (baseball), Tich Freeman (cricket), and Almos Alonzo Stagg (football) during this year.


Q: Which athlete had the most successful year in 1965?

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A: It’s difficult to pinpoint the most successful athlete of 1965 as there were many exceptional performances across various sports. However, Muhammad Ali’s phantom punch and Jack Nicklaus’ record-breaking victory in golf were undoubtedly iconic moments.

Q: Were there any major sporting events in 1965?

A: Yes, one notable event was the All-Africa Games, also known as the “African Olympics,” which took place in Congo.

Q: Who were some famous athletes born in 1965?

A: Several famous athletes were born in 1965, including Craig Biggio, Mario Lemieux, Steve Waugh, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Lennox Lewis. These individuals would go on to achieve remarkable success in their respective sports.


1965 was a year of significant milestones, memorable victories, and heartbreaking losses in the world of sports. From Muhammad Ali’s phantom punch to the birth of future legends, the sporting landscape was forever changed. Let us celebrate the achievements of these athletes and remember those who have left an indelible mark on the history of sports.

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