Today in History: First Olympic Games in Asia in 1964

Today in History: First Olympic Games in Asia in 1964

54 Years ago today, the 18th modern Olympic Games opened in Tokyo. It was the first time that the Games were hosted by an Asian country. Tokyo was originally scheduled to hold the Games in 1940 but after Japan’s invasion on China, the honor was passed on to Helsinki and the event was ultimately canceled because of World War II. The 1964 Games were the first to be telecast live internationally. The “Summer Games” were scheduled for mid-October to avoid both the typhoon season (September) as well as Tokyo’s mid-summer heat and humidity. 93 nations participated, 16 of which made their first Olympic appearance.

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Today in History: Max Schmeling born in 1905

113 years ago today, German boxing legend Maximillian Schmeling was born. As the European heavyweight boxing champion, Schmeling came to the USA in 1928 and quickly became a sensation when he won the world title after defeating Johnny Risko and Jack Sharkey in 1930. In 1936, Schmeling scored a major upset by defeating the invincible Joe Louis. Louis won the rematch in 1938. Both fights became worldwide cultural events in light of the fighters’ national associations. Schmeling and Louis became good friends after the war until Louis passed away in 1981. Schmeling died at age 99 in 2005. Long after World War II, it was revealed that Schmeling had risked his own life in November of 1938 during the Reichskristallnacht when he saved the lives of two young Jewish brothers. It is said that Schmeling never talked about his heroic act.

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Today in History: Mark Spitz wins 7th Gold in 1972

Today in History: Mark Spitz wins 7th Gold in 1972

46 years ago today, U.S. swimmer legend Mark Spitz won his 7th gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. He earned the gold when Spitz and his team set a new world record in the 400-meter medley relay. Spitz also set new world records in the six other events in which he won the gold. At the time, no other athlete had won so many gold medals at a single Olympiad, a record that would stand until Michael Phelps took home 8 gold medals at the 2012 Beijing Games.

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Today in History: First World Cup in 1930

Today in History: First World Cup in 1930

88 years ago today, the first-ever World Cup football matches were played simultaneously in host city Montevideo, Uruguay. France defeated Mexico 4-1 while the United States defeated Belgium 3-0. 13 teams participated “by invitation” in this first World Cup. For the Europeans, the trip to Uruguay was especially costly. In the end, only 4 European teams were persuaded to make the trip. They joined 7 South and 2 North American teams. Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2 in the final and became the first nation to win the World Cup. Total attendance was 590,000. The World Cup has since become the world’s most watched sporting event.

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Today in History: First Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

Today in History: First Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

On this day in 1877, the world’s first official lawn tennis tournament was held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, a district of London. Twenty-two players participated in the Gentlemen’s Singles competition, the only event at the first Wimbledon. In front of a crowd of some 200 people, Spencer Gore became the first champion by defeating William Marshall in three straight sets that lasted only 48 minutes. Gore took home a silver cup (worth 25 guineas) and 12 guineas in prize money.

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Today in History: First UEFA European Nations Cup (now UEFA Euro) hosted by France

Today in History: First UEFA European Nations Cup (now UEFA Euro) hosted by France

58 years ago today, the first European soccer championship opened in France. The event is held every four years in the even-numbered year between the World Cup tournaments. In 1960, 4 teams competed in the finals out of 17 that had initially entered the competition. The Soviet Union won the first competition beating Yugoslavia 2-1 in a tense game in Paris. Over the years, the event has become the second most watched soccer tournament in the world (after the World Cup).

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Today in History: First Automobile Grand Prix in France in 1906

Today in History: First Automobile Grand Prix in France in 1906

112 years ago today, the Automobile Club of France hosted the first “Grand Prix” motor race. 32 drivers took to the public roads outside of Le Mans, on June 26, 1906. The race winner was awarded the “Great Prize” (Grand Prix) of 45,000 French francs which at the time was the equivalent of 13 kilos of gold.

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