Muhammad Ali fights Henry Cooper in May 1966 (Getty)

    September 15th: How did journalists prepare for Muhammad Ali’s first fight?

    12 September 2020

    Every weekend Spectator Life brings you doses of topical trivia – facts, figures and anecdotes inspired by the current week’s dates in history …

    September 12

    In 1885, Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0 in the Scottish FA Cup. It remains the heaviest defeat in a senior football match anywhere in the world. (A 2002 match in Madagascar finished 149-0, but they were all own-goals as part of a protest.) By a bizarre coincidence, the second-heaviest defeat – Dundee Harp beating Aberdeen Rovers 35-0 – happened on the very same day. 

    September 13

    Roald Dahl, Photo: Getty

    Roald Dahl (born 1916). The writer was buried with his snooker cues, some wine and chocolates, HB pencils and a power saw.

    Brian Close (died 2015). The legendarily sturdy cricketer was once hit on the side of the head while fielding at short leg. The ball rebounded to first slip, who took the catch. A team mate checked on Close, saying: ‘What would have happened if it had hit you between the eyes?’ ‘Well,’ replied Close, ‘it would have rebounded to cover instead.

    September 14

    Amy Winehouse (Getty)

    Amy Winehouse (born 1983). As a schoolgirl, whenever she was sent to the headmistress to be told off Winehouse would first sing ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ to raise her spirits.

    September 15

    Muhammad Ali fights Henry Cooper in May 1966 (Getty)

    In 1978 Muhammad Ali became the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times. Before his first title fight in 1964, journalists were so convinced that Cassius Clay (as he was then called) would be badly injured by the fearsome Sonny Liston that one of them practised driving the route to the nearest hospital. Clay won.

    September 16

    Photo: Getty

    In 1920, J.P Morgan’s headquarters on Wall Street in New York were bombed. The company refused to repair the damage caused to the exterior stonework, as a mark of defiance. You can see the marks to this day.

    Andrew Bonar Law (born 1858). ‘Bonar’ was actually a middle name, so his surname of Law was the shortest of any British Prime Minister until Theresa May came along in 2016 to share the record.

    September 17

    The Graduate (Image: Rex Features/Shutterstock)

    Anne Bancroft (born 1931). Despite the age difference between their characters in The Graduate, Bancroft was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman.

    September 18

    Mo Mowlam and Richard Branson in Belfast (Getty)

    Mo Mowlam (born 1949). Visiting the Maze prison in 1998 as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mowlam surprised the hardened terrorists she was negotiating with by taking off her wig (her hair had fallen out following chemotherapy), kicking off her shoes and borrowing their tobacco and Rizlas so she could roll a cigarette.