50 years ago the sporting scenery was very different. Some well-known athletes were making their mark, but were not the celebrities that athletes are today. There were many legends in the making while others were reaching the twilight of their career.
It was a year where the famous “phantom punch” was dealt by Muhammad Ali who retained the world heavyweight title he had won as Cassius Clay. The rematch against Sonny Liston in May never went beyond the first round and Liston was knocked-out by a phantom punch that nobody saw in one minute and 44 seconds.
Also Jack Nicklaus shot a Masters record 271 (17 under par) to win the Golf Masters by nine strokes, his second win at that time. In other golf news, Gary Player became the third man after Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen to win the four major championships when he triumphed in the US Open at Bellerive, Missouri.
West Ham became the second British club to win a European Trophy when they beat Bayern Munich, 2 – 0 at Wembley in the European Cup-Winners Cup whereas Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time defeating Leeds United 2-1.
Also in 1965 the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia stunned the nation with its decision to ban Olympic champion and 1964 Australian of the Year Dawn Fraser from all amateur competition for ten years.
In cricket, Australian opener Doug Walters made his maiden Test ton in his first Test appearance, and went on to make 155 runs. Baseballer Willie Mays hit over 50 home runs in 1965, repeating what he had done 10 years earlier. Marking the start of an era for the New York Jets, they signed quarterback Joe Namath. The US ABC TV network paid an unprecedented $32 million for a four-year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons.
In major events, the All-Africa Games, otherwise known as the “African Olympics” was first held in Congo.
1965 was the year where many great sport personalities were born
1965 was also a year where great athletes like Craig Biggio, considered being one of the best all-around position players in MLB club history was born. Mario Lemieux, a former NHL superstar acknowledged to be one of the greatest players of all time was also one of the most notable athletes to be born in 1965. Also cricketers Steve Waugh, Sanjay Manjrekar and Maninder Singh were born in this year. Other notable athletes born in 1965 include Lennox Lewis (Boxing), Rubén Sierra (Baseball), Scottie Pippen (basketball), Matt Biondi (Swimming).
The Freddie Mills death saga and other notable deaths
The world light heavyweight champion from 1948 to 1950 Freddie Mills’ death saga is known to all in the boxing fraternity. Freddie Mills died from gunshot wounds in mysterious circumstances in Soho, London. It was officially described as suicide but others attempted to give Mills’ death a more sinister ring and suggested he was the victim of a gangland ‘hit’. English cricketer of South African origin Wally Hammond and College basketball legend Wayne Estes also died in the year 1965. Other notable deaths included that of Earl Webb (baseball), Tich Freeman (cricket), and Almos Alonzo Stagg (football).