The world of sport lost many icons in 2022, Pele being the last one who passed away on December 29, aged 82 after a long battle with cancer.
Shane Warne, Bill Russell were among the other notable sportspersons who passed away during the year. Here is a glimpse of their lives and careers:
Russell won a record 11 NBA crowns as a cornerstone of a Boston Celtics dynasty, overcame racism to become the league’s first Black superstar and was a prominent civil rights activist.
He was the first Black coach to win the NBA Finals. That triumph came in 1968, especially poignant as it was just weeks after civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s assassination.
“A good man and great American who did everything he could to deliver the promise of America for all Americans,” said US President Joe Biden after his demise.
Lusia ‘Lucy’ Harris, the basketball pioneer who won a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games and was the first Black woman inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, died at the age of 66.
She led the US national team to a gold medal at the Pan American Games in 1975 and a silver the next year at the Montreal Games, which was the first Olympics to have a women’s basketball tournament.
She was drafted by the NBA’s New Orleans Jazz in 1977 but never played in the league, instead choosing to focus on raising a family. She was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Her life story was chronicled in a critically-acclaimed documentary last year entitled “The Queen of Basketball.”
Indian football lost one of its most vibrant personalities with the passing away of Subhas Bhowmick. The legendary forward breathed his last at a nursing home in Kolkata after suffering from kidney-related complications and chest pain.
He prominently figured in the Indian team that won the bronze in the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games. He was a part of the Indian team that jointly won the Pesta Sukan Cup with South Vietnam in Singapore in 1971. At a time when international engagements were few and far between, Bhowmick represented India in 24 international matches and scored nine goals.
Bhowmick will always be remembered for the part he played in urging his teammates to pile up misery on Mohun Bagan in the 1975 IFA Shield final. Bhowmick provided two assists as East Bengal trounced Mohun Bagan 5-0, a record that still holds strong in the Kolkata Derby. He scored 84 and 82 goals during his stints with Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, respectively.
At the domestic level, Bhowmick was equally successful helping Bengal win the Santosh Trophy on four out of the seven occasions he represented the state.
Former Australian Test cricketer and two-time World Cup winner Andrew Symonds,46, died following a car accident in Queensland.
With an imposing figure and a larger-than-life outlook, Symonds was much more than numbers in statistical books. He was an impact-player through his towering shots, electric fielding and more than handy bowling, be it off-spin or medium-pace. The two-time World Cup winner (2003 and 2007) had the game for limited-overs’ jousts and with dreadlocks, zinc cream on his face and the odd sharp word with rivals, he always drew in the cameras.
Having played 26 Tests and 14 Twenty20Is, the ‘Symonds Effect’ was felt more in his 198 ODIs that yielded 5088 runs at a strike-rate of 92.44 and an average of 39.75. Additionally he grabbed 133 ODI wickets and at one point he was indispensable to the Aussie squad in yellow.
“Earnie hit me so hard it shook my kinfolk in Africa,” remarked Muhammad Ali after their 1977 heavyweight world title bout which Ali won after 15 pulsating rounds.
One of 10 children, Shavers’ family fled Alabama under threats from the Ku Klux Klan. He only took up boxing in his early 20s but his fearsome punch left not just Ali in awe.
“I was in the land of make-believe. I heard saxophones and trombones sounding in my ear... I saw little blue rats scamper out to smoke cigars, drink whisky, man,” said another opponent, James ‘Quick’ Tillis.
Regarded by many in sports-mad Australia as second only to Don Bradman, Warne mixed legendary cricket deeds with colourful headlines away from the pitch earning him the nickname ‘Hollywood’ in a career as bewitching as his famed wrong ‘un.
Warne took 708 wickets in a 145-Test career. “I should think there have been a lot of great cricketers, great spinners and great leg-spinners but Warnie will always be, certainly from my point of view, the No. 1,” said Mike Gatting, who was at the wrong end of Warne’s ‘ball of the century’ in 1993.
A flamboyant Australian wicketkeeper -- nicknamed ‘Iron Gloves’ -- he made his international debut in 1970 against England before retiring in 1984 with what was then a world-record 355 Test dismissals, 95 off the bowling of Dennis Lillee.
He was no mean batsman either becoming the first Aussie wicketkeeper to score a Test century, against Pakistan in 1982.
The Brazilian superstar whose name became synonymous with his sport, “O Rei” (The King) is the only footballer in history to win three World Cups -- 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Known for his genius with the ball, he epitomized the sublime style of play called “samba football” in Brazil, where he was declared a “national treasure.”
Pele scored an all-time record 1,281 goals in 1,363 matches for Santos (1956-74), the Brazilian national team, and the New York Cosmos (1975-77).
“Football has lost the greatest player in its history,” said German legend Franz Beckenbauer.
The 37-times capped defender played every minute of England’s victorious 1966 campaign that culminated in a 4-2 extra-time win over the then West Germany to give England their first and only World Cup.
Cohen spent his entire career with Fulham, playing 459 games for the Cottagers from 1956-1969 before a knee injury cut short his career at 29.
Naresh Kumar, who strode the Indian tennis scene like a colossus, passed away following a brief illness owing to age-related complications.
Naresh Kumar went on to become a big name in Indian tennis after Independence. He made news by reaching the final of the Northern Championships (later known as Manchester Open) in England in 1949. His talent was soon recognised and Naresh Kumar made it to the Indian Davis Cup team in 1952. He represented the country for eight consecutive years and later went on to become the Davis Cup captain.
Naresh Kumar belonged to that generation of Indian players who did well in the international arena. He made it to the singles main draw at Wimbledon for nine consecutive years with his best coming in 1955 when he reached the pre-quarterfinals. He also reached the third round of the French Open in 1958. He did well in the doubles, reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 1953, 1955 and 1958.
Prior to his Grand Slam appearances, Naresh Kumar went on to win two singles titles in the Irish Championships in 1952 and 1953. He also won the singles crown in the Welsh Championship and won a total of five career titles.
Seeler played in all four World Cups in which Pele appeared (1958-70) but unlike the Brazilian legend never lifted the trophy. The closest he came was captaining the side that lost to England in the 1966 final.
Like his father, Seeler played for Hamburg from 1953 to 1972 where he is referred to fondly as ‘Uns Uwe’ (Our Uwe) making 476 appearances.
Legendary flat race jockey Lester Piggott who rode a record nine Epsom Derby winners died aged 86. Piggott is widely regarded as one of the greatest jockeys in the sport’s history, and had been previously admitted to intensive care in 2007 due to a heart problem.
‘The Long Fellow’ as he was nicknamed — due to being unusually tall for a flat jockey — had lived near Geneva since 2012.
Statues of Piggott adorn nine racecourses in England and only a week ago one was unveiled at Ireland’s premier racetrack The Curragh.
The 11-time British champion jockey rode 16 Irish classic winners at the track largely due to his partnership with trainer Vincent O’Brien. The three-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winning jockey was once known as the housewives’ favourite when it came to picking an Epsom Derby horse to back.
His first Derby winner came when he was just 18 on Never Say Die in 1954 with his ninth and last Teenoso in 1983. He retired from the saddle in 1985 to train. However, that was brought to an abrupt halt by the conviction for tax fraud in 1987 that saw him serve a year in prison, and made a shock return after his release to what he knew best, riding. He rode on for another four seasons with his most notable success when he memorably reunited with O’Brien to win the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy at the age of 54 in 1990.
Piggott rode his first winner, The Chase, at Haydock in 1948 when just 12 years of age and his last win came with Palacegate Jack at the same track in 1994, a few weeks short of his 59th birthday. He retired for a final time in 1995. He rode 4,493 winners, the third highest tally in British racing history behind only Gordon Richards and Pat Eddery.
The legendary coach who helped develop superstars such as Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova, Bollettieri was a respected figure in the world of tennis.
The demanding routine for children and adolescents living and training at the Korean War veteran’s academy produced results but also drew criticism.
“I hated it at Bollettieri’s academy,” said Agassi. “The only way I could get out was to succeed.”
Bollettieri, though, remained unrepentant. “I did what had to be done. Tennis is not a sport for choirboys.”
Former International Cricket Council umpire and former Pakistan first class player Asad Rauf passed away aged 66 on Thursday following a cardiac arrest.
Rauf officiated 170 international matches in his top flight umpiring career. The 170 matches includes 49 Tests, 98 ODIs and 23 T20Is.
He was also a member of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel from 2006 to 2013.
Rauf has played 71 first-class matches as a middle-order batter, scoring 3,423 runs at an average of 28.76 that included three centuries and 22 half centuries.
Cricket match match-fixing and spot-fixing allegations tarnished Rauf’s career, and in February 2016, he was sentenced to a five-year suspension after being found guilty of corruption.
Former South African international umpire Rudi Koertzen was killed in a car crash near a town called Riversdale. He was 73.
One of the most respected umpires in world cricket from the late 1990s till 2010, Koertzen had officiated in nearly 400 international games.
Koertzen was inducted into the ICC’s Elite Panel in 2002 and was a part of it for eight years.
During his tenure, he officiated as on-field and TV umpire in as many as 397 games, including 128 Test matches, a record 250 ODIs, and 19 T20 Internationals.
He had his share of controversies too, including continuing with the 2007 ODI World Cup final between Sri Lanka and Australia in near darkness due to a wrong interpretation of rule, which forced the ICC to not give him any assignment during the inaugural World T20, which was held in his own country, in 2007.
With inputs from AFP
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