Good News in History, September 10

50 years ago today, American freestyle wrestler Dan Gable hoisted up an Olympic gold medal in the 1972 Munich Olympics after defeating six wrestlers without giving up a single point. To this day he remains the only Olympic wrestler to go untouched on route to the gold. America’s most highly decorated professional wrestler, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020 by President Donald Trump. READ what the Soviet Union promised to do to Gable in 1972… (1972)

Dan Gable receiving his medal in 1972 – credit U.S. Olympic Museum.

In his college years at Iowa State running up to 1972, he won 117 matches in a row, along with two NCAA championships and three All-America titles. Eager and successful rivals of the U.S. in most Olympic events, the Soviets’ proud wrestling tradition demanded they rise to the challenge of Gable in 1972.

The Soviet wrestling team had promised that they would scour the Eastern bloc to find a wrestler who could take down Dan Gable. They were unsuccessful. Gable made a start by pinning Safer Sali, an Albanian from the former-Yugoslavia. He would also pin the Pole Włodzimierz Cieślak, before on route to beating the USSR’s Ruslan Ashuraliyev from Dagestan, the wrestling capital of the Union.

MORE Good News on this Day:

Simón Bolívar was named President of Peru (1823)
Mickey Mantle hit baseball’s longest home run an estimated 643 feet (1960)
Guinea-Bissau gained independence from Portugal (1974)

31 years ago today, Nirvana’s single Smells Like Teen Spirit was released in the US. The unexpected success of the Seattle band’s song propelled their second LP Nevermind to the top of the charts—an event often marked as the point where alternative rock entered the mainstream.

P.B. Rage, CC license

In the years since singer Kurt Cobain’s death, music industry giants have continued to praise the hit as one of the greatest songs of all time. Oddly, the title came from something a friend had written on the wall of their house, referring to Kurt smelling like ‘Teen Spirit’ deodorant.  WATCH the band taunt the audience by opening the song with a similar hit from the band Boston. (1991)

And, on this day in 1965, The Byrds began recording ‘Turn! Turn! Turn!’.

The song, written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s adopts word-for-word much of the biblical verses in Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Unlike their first hit, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, members of the group itself were permitted to play instead of session musicians, and the song became their second #1 hit in the US.  This line, “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late,” and the title phrase, Turn! Turn! Turn!, were the only parts of the lyric written by Seeger himself. The rest is from the from the King James version of the Bible. 45% of the royalties for the song are donated to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions by Seeger who said, “[in addition to the music] I did write six words.”

And, 14 years ago, the Large Hadron Collider, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, was powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.

Photo by Maximilien Brice, CC license

The LHC particle super-collider is the most complex experimental facility ever built, taking 24 years to complete. Created by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and hundreds of universities and laboratories, it is the largest single machine in the world, measuring 17 miles (27 km) and buried underground in a tunnel. By smashing together protons inside the LHC, physicists can test the unsolved questions of physics and better understand the nature of the most basic building blocks of universe—and they made a significant discovery within four years.

Scientists from six continents and 100 countries conduct experiments there, but one of the most significant outcomes, so far, was the discovery of the long sought-after Higgs boson particle on July 4, 2012, an elementary particle that had been theorized to exist in 1964 but never observed. The Higgs boson was the last remaining piece of what we call the standard model of particle physics, which covers, now, the 17 known particles. CERN announced last month their excitement over the first observation of the Higgs boson decaying, or breaking apart. Using a massive computer grid based in 42 countries to analyze all the data—tens of petabytes per year—physicists also hope that the LHC may be able to produce dark matter, which likely contains a mystery particle, which we haven’t seen to date. (2008)

Hungarian Foreign Minister Gyula Horn (right) with German Foreign Minister, 1989 – Bundesarchiv, CC license

33 years ago today, Hungary informed the Soviet Union that it had opened its borders to allow the thousands of dissatisfied East Germans that had been staying in the West German embassy, in student hostels, and camping facilities, to flee to Austria. Within weeks tens of thousands of East Germans travelled to Hungary with “tourist” visas, headed straight for the unfortified border, and walked to freedom. The act of defiance by Gyula Horn, the last Communist Foreign Minister of Hungary, was hailed as “brave and humane”, and the flood of emigrants led to the fall of the Berlin Wall two months later, and the reunification of Germany.

Horn’s announcement outraged his East German counterparts as he rationalized that international treaties on refugees took precedence over the 1969 agreement between Budapest and East Berlin which limiting freedom of movement into the West. (1989)

Happy 62nd Birthday to Colin Firth, the British actor whose varied and challenging roles have gained him fame and fans.

Photo (right) by Gage Skidmore, 2017, CC license

His portrayal of Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice brought him his first widespread attention. This led to roles in more prominent films, such as The English Patient, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Shakespeare in Love, The Importance of Being Earnest, Love Actually—and others.

In 2009, he received his first Academy nomination for A Single Man, and the next year he won The Best Actor Oscar for The King’s Speech. He also shows up in fun and charming films like Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins Returns, and Nanny McPhee—and he kicked up his action chops as a deadly but suave secret agent in the recent Kingsman film series. WATCH a highlight reel of his ‘Top 10’ films… (1960)

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