Some historians believe that the Battle of Marathon between the Greeks and the Persians happened on September 10th in 490 B.C. According to legend, a messenger ran non-stop more than 20 miles from the battlefield to Athens to deliver news of a Greek victory. That legend inspired the first “marathon” foot race during the Athens Olympics of 1896.
The U.S. lost an Olympic men’s basketball game for the first time on this date in 1972, when the Soviet team took the gold medal game, 51-50. Members of the American team felt that the championship was stolen from them when the Soviets were given three chances to score the winning basket. The Americans refused to accept the silver medal.
A belt with a gold buckle, called the Hickok Belt, was created to honor the top professional athlete of the year in the U.S. Two years in a row, in 1960 and 1961, the winner of the Hickok Belt was an athlete born on September 10th…golfer Arnold Palmer (born in 1929), followed by baseball home-run record-setter Roger Maris (1934).
September 5 in history:
The Munich Olympics of 1972 were disrupted on September 5th, when the terror group Black September invaded the Olympic Village and held the Israeli team hostage. By the time the nearly 24-hour ordeal ended, eleven Israeli athletes and coaches had been killed. Some were shot, while the others died aboard a helicopter that was blown up by a hand grenade.
Twelve years earlier, at the Summer Olympics of 1960, Cassius became a champion in Rome on this date. Cassius Clay, that is…later known as Muhammad Ali. The 18-year-old Clay won the gold medal for boxing in the light heavyweight division, with a unanimous decision against a Polish fighter.
A pre-season football game featuring the Washington Redskins went on as scheduled on September 5th, 1970, despite the death of Redskins coach Vince Lombardi from cancer two days earlier. In honor of their coach, the Redskins defeated the Miami Dolphins 26-21 in the game at Tampa Stadium.
Lombardi’s name is on the Super Bowl championship trophy, and many fans of winning sports teams like to sing the Queen song “We Are The Champions.” Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury, was born on this day in 1946.