Sporting Witness

Sporting Witness

United Kingdom

The inside and personal story of the key moments from sporting history


Ammo Baba - Iraqi Football Hero  

In 2009, thousands of Iraqis gathered at the National Football Stadium to attend the funeral of the player and coach, Emmanuel Baba Dawud, better known as Ammo Baba. Ammo Baba was a beloved player, whose heading ability was legendary and who scored Iraq's first ever international goal. As a coach, Ammo Baba won many regional trophies for the Iraqi team and stood up to Saddam Hussein's sadistic son, Uday. His brother, Banwal Baba Dawud, talks to Ashley Byrne. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Mourners at Ammo Baba's funeral (Getty Images)

Women's Rugby Pioneers  

In 1996, England won the inaugural Home Nations championship in women's rugby. It was a major victory in the English players' fight for official recognition for their sport. Robert Nicholson talks to Gill Burns and Nicky Ponsford about how the women's game overcame entrenched sexism and official indifference. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: The England women's team in action in the 1990s (Getty Images)

Mike Tyson  

In November 1986, aged just 20, Mike Tyson became the youngest heavyweight boxing champion of all time. Tyson came from a troubled upbringing in New York and only found a direction in life when he met the legendary trainer, Cus D'Amato. But, after D'Amato's death, Tyson's career was marred by a rape conviction and an ongoing battle with drink and drugs. He talks to the BBC Boxing Correspondent, Mike Costello. PHOTO: Mike Tyson on the way to his first world heavyweight title (Getty Images)

Graeme Souness and the Turkish Flag Incident  

In April 1996, the manager of Galatasaray and former Liverpool star, Graeme Souness, went down in Turkish football history. After winning the Turkish Cup final, Souness celebrated by planting a Galatasaray flag in the middle of arch-rival Fenerbahce’s pitch. The Scottish manager almost sparked a riot, but won the hearts of Galatasaray supporters. Graeme Souness speaks to Cagil Kasapoglu. Photo: Graeme Souness planting the Galatasaray flag in 1996 (Turkish television)

The "Phantom Game" in General Pinochet's Chile  

In November 1973, Chile played an international football game at the National Stadium in Santiago even though it was being used as a torture centre following General Pinochet's coup. Chile were due to face the Soviet Union, but the USSR boycotted the match, which the Chileans ended up playing against no opposition in a virtually empty stadium. Robert Nicholson talks to the Chilean captain, Leonardo Veliz. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: General Pinochet's troops guarding the National Stadium in Chile in 1973 (Getty Images)

Jason McCartney - Bali Bomb Survivor  

In 2002, Aussie rules footballer, Jason McCartney, was seriously injured in the terrorist attacks in the tourist island of Bali. Despite suffering 50 per cent burns, McCartney regained his fitness and made an emotional return to top-level football. His story helped lift Australia's spirits after the worst terrorist attack in its history. He talks to Simon Watts. PHOTO: Jason McCartney after his comeback game for North Melbourne (Getty Images Sport).

Blood in the Water  

At the 1956 Olympics, political tension between Hungary and the Soviet Union boiled over during the water polo semi-final. The confrontation became known as the 'Blood in the Water' match. In 2011, Witness spoke to the late Ervin Zador, the star player on the Hungarian side. PHOTO: Ervin Zador (AFP/Getty Images)

Kenya's Paralympic Record-Breaker  

In 1995, promising Kenyan runner Henry Wanyoike suffered a stroke and lost his sight. After initially feeling depressed, Henry learnt how to run tethered to a guide and went on to a set a series of long-distance running records for the blind – many of which stand to this day. Henry Wanyoike talks to Alex Last. (Photo: Henry Wanyoike, with his guide, on the way to setting a marathon world record in 2005. Credit: Getty Images)

The 'Black 14' Protest Rocks American Football  

In 1969, the African-American players on the successful University of Wyoming football team were sacked for trying to stage a protest against racism at a rival university. Their dismissals attracted national coverage and ended up in federal court. The incident ruined many of the players' careers and spelled the end of Wyoming's period of sporting success. Robert Nicholson talks to Jay Berry, one of the Black 14. (Photo: A rally in support of the Black 14 in 1969. Credit: AP)

The Black Power Salute  

In October 1968, two American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, staged one of the most iconic protests in sport at the Mexico City Olympics. The two athletes raised their gloved fists in the air at the medal ceremony for the 200 metres as a way of protesting against racism. Simon Watts reports.

Meeting Mr Pilates  

Joseph Pilates developed a system of strengthening exercises which are now practised all over the world. He called it "contrology", but it's now better known as just Pilates. We hear from Mary Bowen, one of the Pilates Elders, who studied with Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara in New York in the 1950s. PICTURE: Joseph Pilates (1883 - 1967), exercising at his 8th Avenue studio in New York City, circa 1960. He is using a machine with bars and pulleys, which are tensed by the exerciser against the pull of springs. (Susan Schiff Faludi/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Lady Swimmers of the 1920s  

In the Roaring Twenties, women's swimming was a glamorous sport and the best athletes were household names around the world. In 1928, three British swimmers - Joyce Cooper, Jean McDowell and Cissie Stewart - took the Amsterdam Olympics by storm. They shared their memories with the oral historian, Anita Tedder. The programme is a Whistledown Production. It was first broadcast in 2011. Photo: The British women's team in Holland.

India's First Paralympic Hero  

In 1972, war veteran Murlikant Petkar won India's first ever Paralympic gold medal at the Heidelberg Games. Petkar had been shot and paralysed seven years earlier in a battle during the war with Pakistan, but then took up sprint swimming. He talks to Adrian Moorhead. The programme is a Sparklab Production for BBC World Service. PHOTO: Murlikant Petkar with his medals (BBC)

Rwanda at the Paralympics  

In 2012, the Rwandan sitting volleyball team became the first Paralympians from their country. The sport began in Rwanda after thousands of people were mutilated during the genocide of 1994, and there were emotional scenes in London when the Rwandan side eventually won a match. Bob Nicholson talks to Rwanda’s captain, Emile Vuningabo, and the side’s Dutch coach, Peter Karreman. The programme is a Whistledown Production. PHOTO: The Rwandan team blocking a shot at London 2012 (Getty Images)

Willy T Ribbs  

In 1991, Willy T Ribbs became the first African-American driver to take part in the Indianapolis 500 - the biggest motor sport event in the USA. He talks to Jo Parsons about his long battle for sponsorship and the inspiration of Muhammad Ali. PHOTO: Willy T Ribbs (Associated Press)

Eric Liddell  

The Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell, is famous for refusing to run on a Sunday in the Paris Olympics of 1924. But, as depicted in the film Chariots of Fire, he went on to win Gold in a different event - the 400 metres. After the Olympics, Eric Liddell became a Christian missionary in China, where he died in an internment camp during World War II. Simon tells the extraordinary story of Eric Liddell's life using archive material and an interview with Steve Metcalf, a survivor from the camp. The programme was first broadcast in 2011. PHOTO: Eric Liddell (Getty Images)

Women's Marathon Agony  

In 1984, the women's marathon was held in the Olympic Games for the first time. But to the horror of the crowd in Los Angeles, one of the runners, Gabriela Andersen-Scheiss of Switzerland, entered the stadium in a state of virtual collapse from heat exhaustion and took minutes to stumble round her final lap of the track. Andersen-Scheiss tells Ashley Byrne about her ordeal. The programme is a Made-In-Manchester Production. PHOTO: Gabriela Andersen-Scheiss in agony (Getty Images)

Emil Zatopek  

In 1952, the Czechoslovak army officer, Emil Zatopek, won three distance-running gold medals at the Helsinki Olympics. As well as achieving a unique feat in athletics, Zatopek charmed the world at the height of the Cold War with his blend of fun, generosity and ability to speak eight languages. Simon Watts introduces archive recordings of Emil Zatopek and talks to Richard Askwith, author of "Today we die a little: The rise and fall of Emil Zatopek". PHOTO: Emil Zatopek leading the Olympic 5,000 metres in 1952 (AFP/Getty Images)

Nadia Comaneci  

In 1976, the 14-year old Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, achieved the first "Perfect 10" at the Olympic Games. Nadia scored six more 10s in Montreal and became an international celebrity. In 2011, she spoke to Madeleine Morris. PHOTO: Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Olympics (Getty Images)

Nigeria's Supereagles win Olympic Gold  

At the 1996 games in Atlanta, Nigeria became the first African team to take football gold at the Olympics. A side featuring many future legends beat Argentina and Brazil on their way to a victory that brought joy to a nation still under military dictatorship. Alex Last talks to Supereagles midfielder Sunday Oliseh. PHOTO: The Nigerian team celebrate (Getty Images).

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