Sports History Chronicle – World Sports Hall Of Fame 1947: Christl Cranz, Ragnhild Hveger, Barney Ross and Gene Sarazen

My choices for the World Sports Hall of Fame for 1947 are

Christl Cranz (Germany – Alpine Skiing) – the outstanding female skier in the era before the Second World War.  She won a total of twelve world championship titles,  five in the Combined event, three in downhill and four  in the slalom, between 1934 and 1939, including clean sweeps of three golds in 1937 and 1939.  This remains a record for a woman but in those days the championships were held annually. She also won the Olympic gold in the Alpine Combination event in 1936 when her great slalom skiing gave her the title although she only placed sixth in the downhill part of the event following a crash.  She also won three unofficial world titles in 1941 when only Germany-friendly countries competed.

Ragnhild Hveger (Denmark – Swimming) – one of the most prolific record setters in the history of swimming. From 1936 to 1943 she set 44 world records, and at one time she held 19 world records in different distances and disciplines. In 1936 she won three gold medals at the world championships. She took silver at the 1936 Olympics in the 400m freestyle.  However, the Olympic Games were not held in 1940 or 1944 when she was at her peak and so she never won a gold.  She did manage fifth place in 1952 aged 32.  Her best distance was the 400m at which she set eight world records and held the record from 1937 to 1956.  She was named Danish sportswomen of the 2oth Century.

Barney Ross (USA – Boxing) – as one of the few triple division world champions  at lightweight, light welterweight and welterweight. He was never knocked out in 79 fights and defeated great champions like Jimmy McLarnin and Tony Canzoneri, who he defeated in 1933 to become world lightweight and light welterweight champion.  He held the titles until 1935 when he vacated them.  He stepped up to welterweight in where he fought Canzoneri three times, winning the first fight in 1934 and third in 1935.  He held the title until 1938 when losing to another great in Henry Armstrong.  In his career he won 72 and drew three of his 79 fights.

Gene Sarazen (USA – Golf) – one of the great golfers of the 1920s and 1930s.  He won seven majors and is one of only five golfers to win the career Grand Slam of all four majors.  His first came in 1922 when he took the US Open and US PGA, which he retained in 1923.  He then went until 1932 before winning the US Open again and the British Open.  He won a third PGA in 1933 but his most famous triumph came in the 1935 Masters when he holed his second shot at the par 5 15th to instantly make up a three shot deficit on leader Craig Wood.  He won the title in a play-off.  He won 39 PGA titles in his career but aged 71 he played another famous shot when making a hole in one at the Postage Stamp at Troon in the 1973 Open.

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