Happy Birthday: Russell, Ferrero, DeMarco

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If you look up the word ‘champion’ in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Bill Russell. The American retired NBA player was a legend and a trailblazer in the sport, his 11 championship rings during his 13-year career ranking as the most ever by any North American sports figure.

Russell, who turns 83 today, helped the Boston Celtics become a dynasty as one of the greatest big men of all-time. His shot-blocking, rim protection, rebounding and general will to win garnered him five MVP awards. Twice, he grabbed more than 50 rebounds in a game and often won the match-up between fellow legend Wilt Chamberlain.

Russell is one of just seven players ever to win an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship and an Olympics gold medal. He was also the first African-American NBA head coach.

Other sports stars born on this day

1974: ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, flamboyant ex-British boxer who was featherweight world champion (43).

1980: Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spanish tennis player who won the French Open in 2003 (37).

1976: Christian Cullen, legendary former New Zealand full-back who scored 46 tries in 58 matches (41).

1988: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans running back who was NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2014 (29).

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Happy Birthday: Kelly Slater, Ken Shamrock, Rafael van der Vaart

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There are few athletes in the world of extreme sports that are more recognisable than Kelly Slater.

The American surfer is the greatest to ever hang ten, dominating his sport during his extremely successful career. Slater has reached the pinnacle as the World Surf League champion a record 11 times, including five straight titles from 1994-98.

He became both the youngest, at age 20, and the oldest, at age 39, to win the coveted title. Slater also passed his childhood hero, Tom Curren, for the most career event wins in 2007 with 34.

One of his greatest feats came in 2005, when Slater became the first surfer to ever earn two perfect 20-point scores under the Association of Surfing Professionals two-wave scoring system. He matched the accomplishment in 2013 and continues to dominate the waves.

Other sporting birthdays on February 11:

1961: Mary Docter, American former speed skater who competed in four Olympics (56).

1964: Ken Shamrock, American UFC Hall of Famer and retired professional wrestler (53).

1975: Jacque Vaughn, American retired NBA player and former head coach of the Orlando Magic (42).

1983: Rafael van der Vaart, Dutch footballer for Danish club Midtjylland and the Netherlands national team (34).

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Happy Birthday - Hoy, Azharuddin, Stoichkov

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One of the most dominant figures in Olympic equestrian was born on this day, 58 years ago.

Hoy and his Australian colleagues were ever presents on the top step of the podium at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 2000 Olympics on home soil in Sydney in team eventing.

Such success for the United Kingdom-based rider also saw him elected into the hallowed Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2001.

In total, Hoy competed in seven Games from 1988-2012 – which is a record for his nation. He and his ex-wife Bettina also became the first married couple to compete against each other in three-day eventing at the Olympics.

At the 2004 Games in Athens, he represented Australia while she competed for Germany. Hoy first began riding aged six, with his proficiency in the saddle propelling him to icon status.

Other sport stars born on this day

1963: Mohammad Azharuddin, ex-India cricket captain who has been found guilty of match-fixing (54).

1966: Hristo Stoichkov, ex-Bulgaria and Barcelona forward who was part of Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ (51).

1983: Cory Jane, versatile back for New Zealand who won the 2011 Rugby World Cup (34).

1987: Carolina Kostner, a World Champion figure skater from Italy who won bronze at the 2014 Olympics (30).

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