Did you know that several great sports events occurred in the first week of this month?
Chess wizard Bobby Fischer, for instance, the first American to win the world championship, did the trick on the very first day of September 45 years ago.
On September 1, 1972, the then 29-year-old former child protégé battled reigning titlist Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union to seven wins and 11 draws in their classic encounter in Reykjavik in Iceland to amass the needed total 12.5 points in the match that started July 11 of the same year.
The Soviet Grandmaster, incidentally, resigned via telephone call of their adjourned Game 21. Fischer, the youngest player to complete a Grandmaster norm at age 15, bought home US$156,250 of the $250,000 purse. Spassky got $93,750.
Twenty years and one day later on September 2, 1992, the two celebrated players in the world met anew in a challenge match held in Yugoslavia with the American, playing against the United Nations sanctions of the host nation, reaffirming his supremacy for the second time, 17.5 to 12.5 points and getting away with $3,650,000 of the $5,000,000 purse.
Eugene Torre, Fischer’s close friend and the first Filipino and Asian, for that matter, to become chess GM, acted as the American’s second in that match.
It was also on September 1, 1923, when American boxer Rocky Marciano came to life. He died on the same date in 1969 but not until after fashioning out an immaculate 49-0 win-loss record, which only recently was broken by compatriot Floyd Mayweather Jr.
September proved to be a sad month, too, for the American campaigners on other fronts. On the same year when Fischer was wrecking havoc on his peers in chess, the US’s 16-year gold medal run in Olympic pole vault was cut short in Munich rather controversially by East German Wolfgang Nordwig who cleared 5.5cm for the gold.
Eight days before the Munich competitions the International Amateur Athletic by Federation banned the use of a new model Cata-Pole. Four days prior to the event, the ban was lifted only to be re-imposed the following day. All the top contenders used the new poles and their performance suffered, except Nordwig.
Two Summer Games earlier in Rome, an amazing eight Olympics wins by the US’s rowing eights that started in 1920, was broken, again by a German eight squad made up of oarsmen from Ruzenburg and Ditmarsia Kiel which beat their counterparts from Canada. The Americans ended up fifth
It was on September 8 though that great moments in Grand Slam tennis occurred. On this date in 1957, Althea Gibson emerged the first African-American –female or male – to win the US Open singles title by beating four time Wimbledon champion Louise Brough, 6-3, 6-2 at Forest Hills.
On the same day in 1969, Australian Rod Laver became the only player to complete a back-to-back Grand Slam conquest by besting fellow Aussie Tony Roche, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2. It was Laver’s 11th Grand Slam triumphs counting his Wimbledon wins in 961, 1962, 1968 and 1969; US Open in 1962 and 1969; Australian Open in 1962 an 1969; French Open in 1962 and 1969.
Australian Margaret Court entered her name in post-war history by winning a record fifth US Open single crown in 1973, topping compatriot Evonne Goolagong, 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 in the final at Forest Hills. Ms. Court, likewise, won in 1962, 1965, 1969 and 1970.
Sixteen-year-old Tracey Austin became the youngest ever winner of the US Open when in 1979, she upended her idol Chris Evert, 6-4, 6-3 in their championship duel.