World Sports Hall of Fame 1937: Frank Burge, Johan Grottumsbraten, Sonja Henie and Fred Perry

My choices for the World Sports Hall of Fame for 1937 are:


Frank Burge (Australia – Rugby League) – one of the greatest forwards in the history of rugby league, who was noted for his scoring ability. On the Australia tour of Britain in 1920/1 he scored 33 tries in 23 matches. This is the record for any forward on a tour. He could play anywhere in the forwards and could also kick goals. His career started at the age of 14 in rugby union where he is the youngest player at grade level in history. He switched to League and made his club debut for Glebe aged 16. He first played for New South Wales at 18 and for his country two years later. He played thirteen times for Australia from 1914 to 1922 scoring seven tries. In his club career from 1911 to 1927 he scored 146 tries in 167 games, a total not beaten by a forward for nearly eighty years. and was top scorer in the league three times, an amazing feat for a forward. In 1920 he scored eight tries in one match, a record.

Johan Grøttumsbraaten (Norway – Nordic Skiing) – the dominant figure in Nordic skiing and Nordic combined in the 1920s and early 1930s. He won three medals at the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1924 and in 1928 he won golds in cross-country and Nordic combined to become the most successful athlete at the Games. He retained the combined title in 1932. He won three world championship titles, including a double in 1931. He is one of only four men to win the Holmenkollen Nordic Combined event five times, which he did begtween 1923 and 1931.

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Sonja Henie (Norway – Figure Skating) – the most successful figure skater in the history of the sport. She was unbeaten from 1927 to 1936, winning a record ten consecutive world titles in those years, the European title each year from 1931 to 1936 and the Olympic golds of 1928,1932 and 1936.  Those three Olympic titles also remain a record total unmatched by any female solo figure skater.  She had made her Olympic debut 11 in 1924 and was second in the 1926 world championships, her last defeat.  She revolutionised the sport with her flair and style to become the most popular skater the world has seen.  Following her retirement from the sport she went into films.  She was one of the greatest movie stars of the 1930s.

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Fred Perry (Great Britain – Tennis) – arguably the greatest British tennis player ever. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title each year from 1934 to 1936, the US Open three times (in 1933,1934 and 1936) the French Open in 1935 and the Australian Open in 1934.  These eight titles made him the first man to win all of the major singles.  He also won two men’s doubles and four mixed doubles titles in Grand Slams.  In Davis Cup he won nine out of ten singles matches and 45 out of 52 matches overall.  This helped Britian win the Cup every year from 1933 to 1936. He continued to play tennis for some years after turning professional at the end of the 1936 season.

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The History of Sport – 1910: Meriel Lucas sets the record for All-England Badminton titles, Boxing’s first “fight of the century”

1910 was a fairly quiet one in sport but here are some of the notable events from that year:

In football Manchester United move from Bank Street to present home Old Trafford.

Celtic win their sixth successive Scottish league title.

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In boxing’s first “fight of the century”, Jack Johnson knocks out the “great white hope” James J. Jeffries in the 15th round to retain his World Heavyweight Championship title.

In ice-hockey the National Hockey Association (NHA) commences its inaugural season

In rugby union France joins the Home Nations Championship which then becomes the Five Nations Championship. They lose 49-14 to Wales in Swansea with Billy Bancroft kicking eight conversions and a penalty (a record number of goals in an international match).

The International Skiing Commission is founded in Christiania (Oslo).

Trampolines are used in show-business performances by “The Walloons”.

The first steel-shafted golf clubs are patented by Arthur Knight of Schenectady, New York.

Meriel Lucas wins her sixth All-England women’s singles badminton title. She also wins her tenth women’s doubles title to finish her career with 17 titles since 1899. This remains a record for a woman.

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The Greatest Hammer Throwers of All-Time: Yuriy Sedykh and Anita Włodarczyk

Another in the occasional series giving my choice as the greatest athletes in the various athletics events.  This time it is the hammer throw.  This is one of the trickier events to choose a number one.  There have been several throwers who have dominated for a number of years but the most dominant athletes have appeared at opposite ends of the twentieth century.  This adds to the difficulty of comparisons as the difference in strength of competition has to be considered.   This is my choice of the top ten.

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  1. Yuriy Sedykh (USSR/Ukraine)
  2. John Flanagan (USA)
  3. The top three were clear of the rest for me but the order of those three was difficult.  Sedykh had a long and distinguished career which saw him win the Olympic titles in 1976 and 1980 (and a silver in 1988), the world championship in 1991, and three successive European Championship golds in 1978, 1982 and 1986.  The third of these saw one of the greatest hammer competition in history when Sedykh and his great rival Sergey Litvinov exchanged the lead with some of the longest throws ever seen until Sedykh eventually won the gold.  His throw that day still stands as the world record.  Such a long standing record will raise a few eyebrows, especially with so many throwing events tarnished with drug affected results, but Sedykh never failed a drug test and so I am happy to consider him, although with a slight doubt.  His closest rivals were also from regimes with questionable practices at a time of strong competition.  Flanagan was Olympic champion three times, in 1900, 1904 and 1908.  In the second and third of those competitions he broke the world record on his way to gold.  He was the dominant figure in the event for the first decade of the 20th century having already staked a claim to be the best in the world in the final years of the 19th.  He won the American championship in 1897 to 1899 at a time when Americans, and in particular Irish-Americans like Flanagan, were the best in the world.  Ryan was another of these “Irish Whales” who dominated the hammer in the early 20th century.  He was the best thrower of the 1910s but because of the World War was denied a shot at Olympic glory until 1920.  He seized that chance, taking gold by the largest margin in the history of the event (4.6 metres).  His greatest throw came in 1913 when he set the first official world record  in the hammer.  His throw of 57.77m stood as a world record for 25 years and an American record for forty.  He won the AAU (American) title every year from 1913 to 1921 (except 1918 when he was away) so could claim to be the best in the world in those years.  As stated previously this is hard to assess but the depth of competition just makes me go for Sedykh (number one in the world for eight years) over the two Irish-Americans.

  4. Sergey Litvinnov (USSR/Russia) twice world champion and the Olympic champion in 1988 and silver medallist in 1980.  He won two European medals and set three world records.
  5. Pat O’Callaghan (Ireland) Olympic champion in 1928 and 1932.  He could have added a third in 1936 but a dispute with athletics federations meant he missed the Games.  In 1937 he exceeded the 24 year old world record in an unofficial competition.
  6. Matt McGrath (USA) in a remarkably long career he was the Olympic champion in 1912 and took silver in 1908 and in 1924 (aged 47, still the record age for an American track and field athlete medallist).  He had a great rivalry with Pat Ryan over many years and broke the world record twice before Ryan’s 1913 epic throw.
  7. Imre Nemeth (Hungary) Olympic champion in 1948 and second in 1952.  He broke the world record three times.
  8. Karl Storch (Germany) The dominant thrower of the early 1940s when Germans were the world’s best but unable to compete in the Olympics.
  9. Anatoliy Bondarchuk (USSR) Olympic champion in 1972, third 1976 and twice broke the world record.  He was European champion in 1969.  He later became the greatest coach in the event.
  10. Koji Mirofushi (Japan) Mirofushi is probably the best of the 21st century throwers with a world and Olympic title plus three other global medals in a long career at the top level.


For the women’s event I am only choosing a top three as it is such a new event.  Although it has only been an international event for twenty years or so a few of the athletes who would be considered have tested positive for drugs and they miss out.  In fact there aren’t too many to choose from when these are removed from consideration.  This leaves my top three as.

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  1. Anita Włodarczyk (Poland) – the  Olympic champion  in 2012 and 2016, and world champion in 2009 and 2015.  She has broken the world record six times since 2009 and was the first woman to throw more than 80m.  She has also won three European championships.

2. Ypsi Moreno (Cuba) – three times world champion consecutively between 2001 and 2005.  She surprisingly came only second in the 2004 Olympics but took the gold in 2008.

Reasonably close between these two but Wlodarczyk has been so good in the last few years that she is clear of Moreno.  There is then a big gap.

3. Betty Heidler (Germany) – world champion in 2007 and European champion in 2010.  She has won two world and one Olympic silver medal.  She held the world record from 2011 to 2014.

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British Sports Hall of Fame 1937: Jack “Kid” Berg, Steve Donoghue, Nellie Halstead and Harold Larwood

My choices for the British Sports Hall of Fame in 1937 are:

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Jack “Kid” Berg (Boxing) – one of the best British boxers of his time.  He was a precocious youngster who in a non-title bout aged sixteen beat the British featherweight champion.  He had a very successful career in Britain over the next three years before fighting well in the USA.  In 1930 he took the NBA title of the world light welterweight title and defended the title three times.  After an unsuccessful challenge for the world lightweight title he won his first British title in 1934 and held this lightweight title until 1936.  He continued his career at a lower level to finish with a total of 157 wins from 192 contests.

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Steve Donoghue (Horse Racing) – the British champion flat racing jockey every year from 1914 to 1923.  His highest total was 143 in 1920 and he rode over 100 winners in four other seasons.  He rode fourteen Classic winners between 1915 and 1937 including six winners of the Derby with three of those coming in successive years in 1921 to 1923.  He rode 1845 winners in total and also had success in France and Ireland, where he was champion jockey in 1908.  He was the most popular jockey with the public of the 1920s.

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Nellie Halstead (Athletics) – a versatile runner of the early 1930s who set world record times at four distances.  In 1930 she broke the world record for 220 yards and in 1931 for 100 yards.  Her finest run came in 1932 when she broke her own 440 yards record by two seconds.  Her time of 56.8 seconds was unsurpassed at the distance until 1950.  She set an unratified world record at 880 yards in 1935.  In championships she won bronze at the 200m in the 1930 World Women’s Games and the 220 yards at the 1934 Empire Games.  In relays she won medals at the 1932 Olympics and 1934 Empire Games.  She won eleven WAAA titles at distances from 100 yards to 880 yards.

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Harold Larwood (Cricket) – one of he most feared bowlers in the history of English cricket due to his express pace.  He took over 100 wickets in a season eight times between 1926 and 1936 with a highest total of 162 in 1932.  That year saw him heading the England bowling attack in the notorious Bodyline tour of Australia.  His role in that tour brought an end to his Test career, which had seen him take 178 wickets since 1926.  He was top of the first class bowling averages five times and in his first class career took 1427 at an exceptional average of 17.51.  He was also a decent batsman who scored 98 in his final test match which was the highest score made by a night-watchman.

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The History of Sport 1909: The First Giro d’Italia, A Riot Means That No Scottish Cup Is Awarded

Some of the main events in sport in 1909 were:
West Auckland Town, an English amateur team, defeats FC Winterthur of Switzerland 2–0 to win the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy, one of the earliest international club football competitions

Nottingham Forest beat Leicester Fosse 12-0.  This is the equal highest score in the history of top division football in England.

The Scottish Cup final is cancelled and the trophy not awarded following a riot at a replay between Rangers and Celtic; the first match was drawn 2–2 and the replay ended 1–1

Alice Legh wins her eighth successive British archery title.

Newtonmore beat Furnace 11-3 which is the record score in the Shinty Cup Final.

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Arthur Gore wins the Wimbledon singles tennis final aged 41 years 182 days.

German students form the world’s first Gliding Club, the Darmstadt High School Flying Sport Club.

The first woman glider pilot is Florence Taylor of Narrabeen Beach, New South Wales.

The first British hydrofoil, Miranda III designed by John Thorneycroft, is tested.

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Louis Bleriot makes the first cross-channel flight, taking 37 minutes to fly from Baraques to Dover.

The first Air-Race, the Gordon Bennett Cup, is held at Rheims and won by Glen Curtiss (USA).

Fred ‘Tenby’ Davies (Wales) defeats Bert Day (Ireland) at Pontypridd to become world champion over the half-mile distance run.

The first rugby match to be held at Twickenham, Harlequins v Richmond, is played.

Monte Attell wins the World Bantamweight Championship joining his brother Abe Attell, who holds the World Featherweight Championship, as the first pair of brothers to hold world titles simultaneously

The first Grey Cup in Canadian Football is won by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues who win 26–6  against Toronto Parkdale Canoe Club.
Representatives of England, Australia and South Africa meet at Lord’s to form the Imperial Cricket Conference (ICC)
Luigi Ganna (Italy) wins the inaugural Giro d’Italia
A goal is scored in the St. Andrew’s Day match at Eton College, the last time this has happened in the St. Andrew’s Day game (the most important match of the year) though points have been scored by other methods.

The first oval greyhound racing track is opened in the USA.

The first professional ice-hockey league, the National Hockey Association, is founded in Montreal.

The first mixed bathing in a British swimming pool is held at Holborn Baths.

Eleonora Sears asks to participate in a polo match for USA v England at Burlinghame Country Club, Mass but is ordered from the field.

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World Pairs Champions in figure skating are Phyllis Johnson and James H. Johnson (Great Britain)
The first event is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Great Britain defeats Australia to claim the first ever Ashes series in the final match of the 1908–09 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain in rugby league.

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The Greatest Biathletes of All-Time: Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Magdalena Forsberg

Biathlon is a winter sport combining cross-country skiing and shooting.  It has been included in the Winter Olympics since 190 for men and 1992 for women.  I have chosen my top five male athletes and top three women in the sport.  The number of events competed in at the various major championships has expanded dramatically over the years, increasing from just one when the sport was introduced to four different distances currently for individual events.  This makes comparisons of the number of medals won rather misleading and I have born this in mind when making my choices.


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  1. Ole Einar Bjørndalen  (Norway) – a clear choice as the greatest in history as he has won more Winter Olympic medals than any other athlete at any sport (13), more world championship medals than any biathlete (45 with 20 golds) and by a distance has the most individual wins in the biathlon world cup with 94.  He has also won more overall biathlon World Cup titles, six, than any other man except Fourcade, between 1998 and 2007.  He followed an outstanding junior career by starting his senior career in 1993.  He made his first Olympic appearance in 1994 and won the first of his record eight golds in 1998.  In 2002 he won all four golds open to him, another unique feat by a biathlete.  He added golds in 2010 and 2014.
  2. Martin Fourcade – the only man who comes close to Ole Einar Bjørndalen is Fourcade, the current dominant figure in biathlon.  If he continues his medal winning level he may overhaul the brilliant Norwegian.  He shares the record of overall world cup titles with Bjørndalen but has the distinction of winning six in a row, from 2012 to 2017.  He has the second highest number of world cup individual race wins (63).  In world championships he has 25 medals and 11 golds.  At the Olympics he has two golds and four medals.  In the world cup he has won all five titles available in a season three times.

After these two it is close between several biathletes for the minor places and arguments can be made for all of them.  I have tried to factor in the lack of medal opportunities for early biathletes by looking at the number of years they were dominant for rather than the total medals.

3. Alexander Tikhonov (USSR) – winner of eleven world championship titles between 1969 and 1977.  Five of those came in individual events with the latter two in the sprint event.  He won four Olympic golds between 1968 and 1980, all of these coming in relays.  The world cup was only established at the end of his career so he only won two races in that.

4. Vladimir Melanin (USSR) – the outstanding biathlete in the early days of the sport as an international event.  He was the world champion in 1959, 1962 and 1963 at 20km and was Olympic champion in 1964.  This was at a time when this was the  only individual event.  He also won relay gold medals in the three world championships.

5. Raphaël Poirée (France) – the winner of 44 World Cup races and 8 world championship gold medals between 1995 and 2007.  All but one of his world titles were in individual events with four of them at the mass start event.  He won 14 world cup season titles including four overall crowns but was another to miss out on Olympic gold, although winning three medals.

Others in my top ten in no particular order were  Frank-Peter Roetsch, Frank Ullrich,  Eirik Kvalfoss, Mark Kirchner and Sven Fischer .  These were all not far away from fifth place and could be seen by some as worthy of a top five place.


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  1. Magdalena Forsberg  (Sweden) – by a reasonable margin the greatest female biathlete ever.  She is the only woman ever to win six overall titles at the world cup, which she did every year from 1997 to 2002.  She holds the record for most individual race victories in world cups with 42 and won 17 world cup discipline titles.  At world championships she has twelve medals with six golds, all of these coming in individual events.  The only disappointments in her career were at the Olympics where she only won two bronze medals.
  2. Magdalena Neuner (Germany) – the most successful woman in the history of the world biathlon championships with 17 medals (12 golds) and two Olympic titles between 2007 and 2012.  Six of her world titles were in relay events leaving six world and two Olympic individual golds.  She won three overall world cup titles and 34 world cup races, putting her second to Forsberg in both lists.
  3. Kati Wilhelm (Germany) – a close decision for who to put third but I just went for Wilhelm.  She had a better championship record winning five world championship and three Olympic golds between 2001 and 2009.  Five of these were individual golds.  In the world cup she won one overall title and 21 races.

I had Uschi Disl not far behind with Darya Domracheva and Liv Grete Skjelbreid also close.

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World Sports Hall of Fame 1936: Charles Pahud de Mortanges, Rie Mastenbroek, Jesse Owens and Karl Schafer

My choices to enter the World Sports Hall of Fame in 1936 are:

Charles Pahud de Mortanges (Netherlands – Equestrianism) – the first rider to retain the individual title in the 3 Day event at the Olympics.  He did this by taking the gold medals in 1932 and 1936.  He also was a member of the gold medal winning teams at the Games in 1924, where he was 4th individual, and 1928.

Rie Mastenbroek (Netherlands – Swimming) – the winner of three gold medals at the 1936 Olympics.  These came at the 100m and 400m freestyle and in the 4 x 100m relay.  In addition she took the silver at the 100m backstroke. She had made her name aged only fifteen at the 1934 European Championships by winning three gold medals, at the 400m freestyle and relay events and also in the 100m backstroke.  In her career she set nine world records at freestyle and backstroke.


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Jesse Owens (USA – Athletics) – one of the most celebrated athletes in the history of athletics following his exploits at the 1936 Olympics.  At those Games he won four gold medals, in the 100m, 200m, Long Jump and 4 x 100m relay.  As a black man his performances were seen as a riposte to the Nazi idea of Aryan superiority.  His ahievements before those Games featured many notable days, most remarkably at Ann Arbor in 1935 where he set six world records or bests in the same afternoon in the space of one hour.  These came in four events but twice he broke metric distance records as well.  They came in sprints, long jump and the less frequently competed 220 yards hurdles, which shows his versatility.  His greatest individual performance came in the long jump in where he set a world record of 8.13m, the first 8m leap.  This lasted as the world record until 1960.

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Karl Schafer (Austria – Figure Skating) – the winner of seven individual world titles and two Olympic golds at men’s skating.  This puts him second on the all-time list of titles won by a male skater at championships.  After winning medals in European and world championships in 1927, 1928 and 1929 he took every world title from 1930 to 1936, when he retired, and added the Olympic titles in 1932 and 1936.  He also won the European championship every year from 1929 to 1936.  He was also a national record-holder at swimming in breaststroke.

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