On this day in 532 AD one of the deadliest riots in history, the Nika riots, began in Constantinople, the capital of Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire). The chaos emerged from long-standing sporting rivalries between opposing chariot racing teams - the Blues and the Greens - each of whom attracted fanatical support that often spilled over into violence. The divisions may have gone further than sport, as it has often been suggested that the Blues and the Greens essentially represented opposing political parties in the Byzantine Empire. The riots occurred during the reign of the unpopular Emperor Justinian, whose military endeavors were having a heavy burden on increasingly disgruntled taxpayers. Justinian’s wife, the Empress Theodora, was a controversial figure because of her humble working class origins and her political influence over her husband. The tensions came to a head when Justinian sent in troops to quell fighting between Greens and Blues, and condemned the ringleaders to death, thus ending his support for the Blues. When both a Green and a Blue escaped their execution, the factions were united in the cause to have the men pardoned. On January 13th, during a race at Constantinople’s Hippodrome stadium, both factions vented their anger at the emperor with chants of “Nika!” (‘Conquer/Win’). Five days of rioting ensued, which saw the mob burn down large portions of the imperial capital and call for the emperor to be deposed. Justinian wanted to flee the city, but Theodora rebuked him for his cowardice, and he therefore stayed and approved a plan to isolate the rioting factions in the Hippodrome. The imperial forces descended on the stadium, killing 30,000 of the rioters, which was around 10% of the city’s population at the time. With the violence of the Nika riots in the past, change came to Byzantium in the form of a decline in both the power of the factions and the prominence of chariot-racing.
“Those who have worn the crown should never survive its loss. Never will I see the day when I am not saluted as empress” - Theodora dissuading Justinian from fleeing the city
Today marks the 35th anniversary of the greatest underdog and upset in sports history. The 1980 Winter Olympics, Team USA, consisting of college kids and amateurs, defeats the well trained and powerhouse Soviet Union hockey team in the semi final game famously dubbed, the Miracle on Ice.
this day in 1941, the famous New York Yankees baseball player Lou
Gehrig died aged 37. Nicknamed ‘The Iron Horse’, Gehrig’s 23
Grand Slams remained the most on record until it was broken by fellow
Yankees player Alex Rodriguez in 2013. The remarkable career of this
exceptionally talented baseball player ended in 1939 when, after his
performance had been deteriorating, Gehrig was diagnosed with a terminal
neurodegenerative disease which severely limits physical mobility
(often to the point of paralysis) while not affecting the brain. The
disease is known by different names; in the UK it is called
motor neurone disease (MND), and in the US it is amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS). The diagnosis led Gehrig to retire aged 36, and on a
July 4th 1939 ‘Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day’ at Yankee Stadium, he gave
an emotional farewell speech that has become known as ‘baseball’s
Gettysburg Address’. Lou Gehrig died two years later, just before his 38th
birthday. His legacy continues as one of the greatest players of all
time, and in the fact that many Americans now refer to ALS/MND as 'Lou
Gehrig’s Disease’. Other notable people to have this disease include
Stephen Hawking, whose is an unusual case as he has lived with it for
over 50 years.
“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth…I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for” - Lou Gehrig in his 1939 farewell speech
Late Friday night, the world was hit with the news that Muhammad Ali had passed away at age 74. “The three-time World Heavyweight Champion boxer died this evening,” family spokesperson Bob Gunnell said in a statement. Ali will be remembered as the greatest boxer who ever lived, as well as one of the most captivating and outspoken superstars in sports history. Today, tributes to The Greatest flooded the Internet from around the world.
The Boston Marathon gender barrier fell 50 years ago, on April 19, 1966. That’s when Roberta Gibb, 23, crossed the finish line in 3 hours 21 minutes 40 seconds — in front of more than two-thirds of the male runners that day and wearing Bermuda shorts and a bathing suit. (Running attire hadn’t caught up to her aspirations yet.)
Today, the 25th of February, it’s the birthday of one of the best French F1 drivers ever, François Cevert. He would be 71 years old if he didn’t have an awful crash at Watkins Glen, the 6th of October, on the track where he won his first and only victory in Formula 1 World Championship
WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes — WWE Hall of Famer, three-time NWA Champion and one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history — passed away today at the age of 69.
Runnels became a hero to fans around the world thanks to his work ethic, his impassioned interviews and his indomitable spirit. Moreover, Runnels was a dedicated father to WWE Superstars Goldust (Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (Cody Runnels), a caring husband and a creative visionary who helped shape the landscape of WWE long after his in-ring career had ended.
WWE extends its sincerest condolences to Runnels’ family, friends and colleagues.