Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
28 January 2015
This story might even read like a corny sports joke - but I saw it in a pile of my notes not so long ago - its a boxing story from a long time back - and is worth retelling here I think.
You might recall a very tough American boxing heavyweight called Chuck Wepner from back in the 1970s. He was a brawling, big hitting white guy who came from the wrong side of the tracks (After him it was said the 'Rocky' character was written by Sylvester Stallone)
Wepner won the right for a world Heavyweight title fight against the great Muhammad Ali and after a month's excellent training he became very confident he could beat Ali.
It got to the point where the day before the fight (in Cleveland, Ohio in 1975) Wepner went to the city's best lingerie store and bought his wife a beautiful blue negligee. He took it back to his wife and gave it to her with the words 'When I get back to the hotel after the fight you'll need this. That's because you'll want to look good as you'll be sleeping with the heavyweight boxing champion of the world!'
In the fight the next night Wepner did put up a great showing. He even knocked Ali down in the ninth round (The story goes he went back to his manager at the end of the round and said, 'Al, start the car. We're going to the bank, we're gonna be millionaires after this!')
But Ali regained his composure and over the next few rounds he beat the courageous challenger to the point where the referee stopped the contest with 19 seconds left to go in the 15th round. Wepner by then looked a mess; his face was badly puffed and cut and he had a broken, bleeding nose.
When he got back to the hotel it was his wife who had the last word. There she was wearing in the blue negligee and looking an absolute picture.
It was she and not brave Chuck who then uttered the classic post-fight line, the one which has gone into boxing legend; 'Chuck baby,' she said, in her New York accent, 'What happens now? How does it work? Do I go to his room or does he come to mine?
True story! I've seen Wepner tell it on TV.
The NZ Governor-General in 1931 was Lord Bledisloe. His donated trophy was decided in favour of NZ by 20-13 at Eden Park in Auckland.
Birkenhead Park, and England
3 internationals for England 1900
Respected as a diligent and determined administrator in England, but reviled in New Zealand as the man who stole the All Blacks’ birthright, ‘Bim’ Baxter holds a key place in rugby history.
Already a member of the IRB, and England team manager to Argentina in 1927, Baxter was appointed manager of the 1930 British touring team to New Zealand and Australia.
There he was outspoken, to say the least, in his denunciation of the New Zealand wing forward position. Baxter stated the wing forward was ‘nothing more than a cheat’, and his influence on the world scene led to the framing of laws which effectively stamped out the two-man front row, and with it the wing forward position.
Baxter was also highly critical of the game of rugby league. When being shown the sights of Auckland, Carlaw Park, the local rugby league ground, was pointed out to him. Baxter offered a quip that has always been quoted by Kiwi league followers when their rivalry with rugby union is discussed. Baxter said of the park, ‘Every town must have its sewers.’
Baxter was an international referee on nine occasions and was on the IRB from 1926–39. A silver medal-winning yachtsman at the 1908 Olympics, Baxter was also involved in golf and rowing.
Which international rugby player who went to two Rugby World Cups also won two Olympic Games Gold Medals and 2 World Championship bronze medals in a chosen 'other' sport?