Two of boxing’s greatest fighters met in the ring for the first time on this day in 1971 at the iconic Madison Square Garden, in what was labelled as the Fight of the Century.
With the undisputed world heavyweight title on the line, the clash was much anticipated and hyped, with each man guaranteed $2.5 million dollars – the largest single payday at the time.
Muhammad Ali had a flawless 31-0 record, while Joe Frazier was also perfect at 26-0. Living up to the billing, the bout went the full 15 rounds, with Ali landing blows early before tiring out.
Frazier took over and won the fight with a unanimous decision to retain the title and hand Ali his first defeat.
1936: The first stock car race takes place in Daytona Beach, Florida.
1971: Led by future Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Milwaukee Bucks win a franchise record 20th straight game with a 104-99 victory against the Seattle SuperSonics.
1989: Roger Kingdom sets a world record of 12.92 seconds in the 110 metre hurdles in Zurich, Switzerland, – a mark that lasted until 1993.
1999: Australia’s bowling attack of Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie hold West Indies to their lowest ever Test score of 51.
Last season’s Red Bull Air Race runner-up Matt Hall has played down the favourites tag and believes it will be a tight battle for the title due to new rule changes and the strength of field.
The Australian goes into the season opener in Abu Dhabi Corniche this weekend as the No1 pilot as he searches for his maiden crown. The 44-year-old will not have to think about world champion Paul Bonhomme, who retired last year following his third triumph in Las Vegas. But with former champions Hannes Arch, Kirby Chambliss and Nigel Lamb among the 14-pilot field, Hall insists it’s an open title race.
“I guess statistically, it’s correct that I’m now the No1 competitor,” said Hall, who came second in Abu Dhabi last year.
“You can say the one who is the No1 competitor should be the fav-ourite for the season. But saying that, everyone who is flying in this Air Race can win the championship.
“Last year was very good for me and it would be great for me and my team to continue what we have been doing last season but everybody has a new season in front of them. The slate is wiped clean and everybody has a chance to win the championship.”
For 2016, fresh changes have been implemented to make the championship even more competitive. While the Round of 14 – which sees the pilots go head-to-head with the winner and fastest loser advancing remains the same, the Round of 8 knock-out stage will be even tougher.
For the first time, the eight pilots will be reseeded and head-to-head records will be based on their Round of 14 timings with the top four qualifying for the final.
Hall fully supports the idea, ins-isting it will make it more exciting for the spectators while the pilots know there’s no room for errors.
“Every round counts,” he said. “If I’m watching my competitor hit a pylon, I used to back off because I knew if I had a clean run, I would make it through. It means I and the other pilots have to be really fast and post a competitive time.
“I think it makes the sport much fairer and I like the idea and the crowd will definitely notice the difference in the flying style.”
Czech Republic’s Martin Sonka, who finished fourth overall last season, insists consistency will be key.
“We had some excellent results in 2015 but consistency is important to win the overall championship, so this season we’re going to step up the team effort even more and leave as little as possible to chance,” he said.
“We must be focused and after this race, we will know more about my plane and the season ahead.”
The opening stop of the World Championship takes place on March 11 and 12.
“This is the ninth time Abu Dhabi has hosted this exciting battle,” said Aref Al Awani, General Secretary of Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC).
“It is a spectacle which brings thousands to our wonderful Corniche to enjoy the thrills and marvel at the daring of this flying aces. It also delivers substantial media exposure for the UAE capital worldwide.”
Two Asian records were smashed on the first day of competition at the inaugural 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai, UAE.
Sri Lanka’s Anil Prasanna Jayalath Yodha Pedige blasted out of the blocks in the men’s 200m T42 and held on strongly to take the win in 25.11, lowering his own previous Asian record mark by an impressive 0.76 seconds.
The 30-year-old, who won 200m T42 gold at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, was suitably delighted with his performance.
London 2012 finalist Atsushi Yamamoto of Japan had to settle for silver (26.83) although he will have high hopes in the long jump T42 event later this week, having safely held on to his world title in Qatar last year. Bronze went to Sri Lanka’s Buddika Indrapala (27.50).
Vietnam picked up their first medal of the Championships – as well as a new Asian record – courtesy of Be Hau Nguyen in the men’s shot put F55/56.
The 28-year-old added eight centimetres on to the Asian record with a throw of 10.18m (780 points) in the second round. Silver went to Mongolia’s Sambuudanzan Ganzorig with a best of 9.13m (610 points) while Iran’s Parviz Golpasandhagh took bronze (576 points).
Local favourite Mohamed Hammadi picked up gold for the host nation in the men’s 200m T34. Hammadi never looked in doubt as he cruised round the bend and down the home straight at the city’s Dubai Police Officer’s Club stadium to take gold in 29.31.
The 30-year-old, who won silver at the IPC Athletics World Championships last year, looked in confident mood as he took the win ahead of Kuwait’s Ahmad Almutairi (T33), with Qatar’s Mohammed Al-Kubaisi (T34) clinching bronze.
Japan dominated the podium in the men’s 1,500m T20 as Daisuke Nakagawa led the way home in 4:08.03.
Nakagawa, the world champion over 5,000m, made his intentions clear as he took an early lead. Only his compatriot Yusuke Yamanouchi was able to stay in touch, racing on Nakagawa’s shoulder up until the final lap, but then Nakagawa took control and accelerated clear, leaving Yamanouchi to settle for silver (4:11.20). Japan’s Yuya Kimura took bronze (4:15.40).
There was a thrilling battle to the line in the men’s 200m T44 but it was India’s Manoj Baskar who took the gold medal position, dipping keenly as he stopped the clock in 24.90, just 0.04 seconds ahead of his compatriot Anandan Gunasekaran who won silver.
China picked up the first gold of the day as Ming Xin took gold in the men’s 100m T35, crossing the line in 15.70.
Saudia Arabia’s Paralympic silver medallist Hani Alnakhli (F33) topped the podium in the men’s discus throw F33/34.
The world record holder’s fourth round throw of 27.44m (828 points) was enough to take gold ahead of Qatar’s Abdulrahman Abdulrahman (F34) who threw 30.72m (619 points). Bronze went to the UAE’s Ahmed Alhousani (F33) with 22.78m (592 points).
Earlier, the first gold medal out in the field had gone to Iran’s Hashemiyeh Motaghian Moavi (F56) with victory in the women’s javelin F55/56 (690 points).
The 29-year-old only managed two legal throws out of a possible six, but her fifth attempt of 17.24m – only 13 centimetres shy of the Asian record she set at the IPC Athletics World Championships last year – was enough to take the title.
Iran notched up a second gold medal on day one as Seyed Javanmardi (F35) won the men’s shot put F35/36 with a best of 13.21m (865 points).
Victory went to form in the men’s long jump T20 as Malaysia’s reigning world and Asian Para Games champion Abdul Latif Romly picked up yet another major gold medal.
The 18-year-old saved his best until last as he leapt 7.07m to take the win ahead of Saudi Arabia’s Asaad Sharaheli (6.82m), with bronze going to Japan’s Mitsuo Yamaguchi (6.72m).
Iraq took gold and silver in the men’s javelin F40/41 as Paralympic silver medallist Ahmed Naas (F40) threw a best of 35.75m (1017 points) for gold.
The competition continues on 8th March at the Dubai Police Officer’s Club stadium.