WTF Fun Fact 13397 – The Longest Boxing Match

In 1893, Andy Bowen and Jack Burke, engaged in the longest boxing match in history. It was a legendary battle that would forever etch their names in sporting history. What made this encounter truly remarkable was not just the skill and determination displayed by the fighters, but the astonishing length of time the fight endured—an incredible 7 hours and 19 minutes.

That fateful day

The epic showdown between Bowen and Burke took place in New Orleans. As the two fighters stepped into the ring that fateful day, little did they know that they were about to test their physical and mental limits.

From the opening bell, Bowen and Burke exhibited remarkable resilience, trading blow after blow with unwavering determination. As the hours ticked by, the physical toll of the match became increasingly apparent. The fighters’ bodies were battered and bruised, their faces swollen and bloodied. Yet neither Bowen nor Burke showed any signs of surrender.

Sticking it out

Cheers and applause filled the arena as the fighters fought on, refusing to succumb to the weariness that surely plagued their bodies.

Seven hours and nineteen minutes passed, and still, neither Bowen nor Burke could claim victory. The referee had no choice but to declare the match a draw. It was a testament to the unbreakable spirit of these fighters, who had pushed themselves to the limits of human capability and beyond.

The legacy of the longest boxing match

The bout between Bowen and Burke remains the longest boxing match in recorded history, a record that stands to this day. Their remarkable feat has become the stuff of legends, celebrated by boxing enthusiasts and historians alike. The fight serves as a reminder of the indomitable human spirit, the relentless pursuit of victory, and the boundless capacity of athletes to push beyond what was previously believed possible.

In an era long before modern training techniques and sports science, Bowen and Burke relied solely on their grit and determination. They embodied the essence of what it means to be a fighter—someone who refuses to give up, no matter the odds or the obstacles in their path.

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Source: “The Longest Boxing Match in History Went 110 Rounds and Lasted over 7 Hours” — The Vintage News

WTF Fun Fact 13380 – Extreme Ironing

We didn’t realize anyone enjoyed ironing enough to actually keep up with it much less make it a sport, but extreme ironing is a real thing.

What is extreme ironing?

Extreme ironing, also known as EI, is a unique and unconventional sport that combines the ordinary task of ironing clothes with the thrill of extreme activities. It involves individuals taking their ironing boards and irons to remote and unusual locations, adding an element of excitement to an otherwise mundane household chore.

The Extreme Ironing Bureau defines EI as “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.”

The history of the “sport”

Originating in Leicester, England in 1997, extreme ironing was conceived by Phil Shaw, also known as “Steam,” as a way to infuse fun into his daily routine. The concept quickly gained popularity and evolved into a global phenomenon.

Participants, or “ironists,” perform this task in various settings, such as mountainsides, forests, canoes, while skiing or snowboarding, atop statues or buildings, underwater, and even in the midst of bustling streets. These performances can be done individually or in groups.

A spectator sport

While the sport may appear tongue-in-cheek to some, EI has gained attention from media outlets worldwide due to its intriguing combination of mundane and extreme elements. The sport challenges participants not only to showcase their ironing skills but also to possess the physical stamina and mental resilience necessary to navigate and conquer unexpected environments.

Safety is a crucial aspect of EI, as participants must take precautions while engaging in their ironing adventures. The sport requires careful navigation and coordination, especially in more hazardous locations. Ironists prioritize their safety while ensuring they can successfully complete the task in extreme conditions.

Ironing goes mainstream(ish)

The sport has gained significant attention through documentaries and media coverage. A documentary titled “Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory,” produced by Britain’s Channel 4, followed the British team’s journey and their participation in the first Extreme Ironing World Championships in Germany. This exposure propelled EI into the international spotlight, attracting more enthusiasts to join the sport.

Notable achievements in the sport include ironing the Union Jack flag just above Everest Base Camp, setting a world altitude record for the sport. Ironists have also ironed across gorges, participated in bungee ironing (combining bungee jumping with ironing), and even ironed underwater, breaking records for the number of people ironing simultaneously.

The influence of EI has extended beyond the sport itself, inspiring other unusual activities like extreme cello playing.

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Source: “Extreme Ironing: History, Types, Objective, & Equipment” — Sportsmatik

WTF Fun Fact 13368 – Horse Diving

Horse diving was a spectacle where trained horses would dive from high platforms into pools of water. Guided by riders, the horses leaped from platforms and landed in pools located below. The performances drew crowds of spectators, especially at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, where it became a popular attraction.

The origins of horse diving

Horse diving involved training horses to dive from 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 meters) platforms. Trained riders guided the horses, ensuring their safety during the descent and upon entering the water.

Horse diving traces its roots back to the late 19th century. That’s when William “Doc” Carver, a former Wild West performer, had a vision of combining horsemanship with daring dives. Carver was instrumental in training horses to perform the dives and developing the techniques necessary to ensure their safety. He worked tirelessly to refine the training process and establish a rapport between horses and riders.

The Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey, became synonymous with horse diving. The iconic amusement pier offered a perfect stage for the daring spectacle.

A daring feat

The performances showcased not only the bravery of the animals but also the bond between the horses and their riders.

To ensure the safety of the horses, the pools were carefully designed with deep water and sufficient space for the horses to land safely. The performers, including the riders, were highly trained and dedicated individuals who understood the intricacies of the sport. While accidents and injuries did occur, the community took measures to prioritize the well-being of the animals and performers.

As times changed and public perception evolved, concerns about animal welfare emerged. The popularity of horse diving gradually declined throughout the 20th century, and the last performance took place in the 1970s. Although no longer a prominent attraction, it left a lasting legacy, reminding us of the audacity and daring spirit that characterized a bygone era of entertainment.

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Source: “Remembering When Horse Diving Was an Actual Thing” — Atlas Obscura

WTF Fun Fact 13361 – Olympic Tug of War

Tug of War, a favorite childhood sport that pits two teams against each other in a test of strength and teamwork, had a brief but notable stint as an Olympic sport. Olympic Tug of War made its debut in the 1900 Paris Games. The inclusion of the sport was a reflection of the diverse range of events showcased in the early years of the modern Olympics. Organizers believed that Tug of War, with its raw physicality and team dynamics, would add excitement to the program. And we’re kind of sad it’s not there anymore!

Competitive Tug of War

Of course, Tug of War competitions at the Olympics followed a standardized set of rules. Each team consisted of eight athletes, and the objective was to pull the opposing team a certain distance across a line within a specified period of time.

If neither team achieved this, victory was awarded to the team that managed to pull their opponents the farthest.

Tug of War quickly gained popularity among spectators due to its gripping displays of strength. After all, it may not be figure skating, but it required determination, synchronization, and the ability to work together. The sport drew large crowds – and we imagine it still would today!

A playground sport goes global, then fades

Tug of War returned in the 1908 London Olympics. This time, the competition featured teams from more nations. But the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States were dominant.

So where did this popular sport go? Well, for all its popularity, the sport faced several challenges that ultimately led to its removal from the Olympic program. One factor was the lack of standardized weight categories, which disadvantaged lighter teams.

The removal of Tug of War from the Olympic program can also be attributed to shifting priorities. The Games evolved into a platform that emphasized individual athletic prowess, precision, and specific skill sets, rather than collective strength and team coordination.

The end of an era

Sweden holds the distinction of winning the most Olympic Tug of War medals, with five golds, one silver, and two bronzes. Sadly, the 1912 Stockholm Olympics was the last Games to feature Tug of War, marking the end of its Olympic journey.

Interestingly, the gold medals awarded to Tug of War champions were among the heaviest in Olympic history, weighing approximately 324 grams (11.4 ounces).

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Source: “Olympics History” — Tug of War Association

WTF Fun Fact 13303 – MLB Opening Day in Japan

In 2000, the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets played the first-ever MLB Opening Day game outside of North America. The game was held in Japan at the Tokyo Dome between the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. This was a watershed moment for baseball fans all over the world. Although not all fans were pleased because they had to get up pretty darn early to watch their teams play.

Mets vs. Cubs

The Chicago Cubs actually had a special connection to Japan at the time. That’s because their former first baseman, Ernie Banks, served as a goodwill ambassador in Japan in the 1980s for Major League Baseball. That made him a highly respected figure by Japanese baseball fans.

The games were broadcast live in Japan, and in the United States. The broadcasts featured a mix of American and Japanese announcers.

The two-game “Opening Series” saw the Cubs and Mets play. The Cubs won the first game 5-3 on March 29, 2000. The following day, the Mets beat them 10-1.

The success of an international MLB Opening Day

The games were a huge success, drawing crowds of over 55,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome each day. Many Japanese fans were experiencing live MLB games for the first time.

Since the 2000 Opening Series, MLB has continued to expand its international presence. They’ve scheduled regular-season games in Mexico, Australia, and Puerto Rico. The league has also focused on building relationships with baseball organizations in South Korea and Taiwan.

The Opening Series was not the first time that MLB teams had played games in Japan. In fact, in 1956, a group of MLB All-Stars, including future Hall of Famers like Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, played a series of exhibition games against Japanese teams.

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Source: “Box score of the day: Piazza, Sosa slug in Japan” —

WTF Fun Fact 13280 – The History of NFL Free Agency

The history of NFL free agency goes back to 1947. The first free agent in NFL history was Charley Trippi. He signed with the Chicago Cardinals in ’47 after his contract with the team expired.

However, free agency as we know it today, with unrestricted players being able to sign with any team, was introduced in 1992. This was only after players sued for the right to choose their own teams as free agents.

The complex history of NFL free agency

According to the Bleach Report (cited below), prior to 1947, a “clause in a player’s contract allowed the team to re-sign him every year to the same contract, meaning that he wasn’t going anywhere unless they traded him or he decided to retire. This was considered acceptable by just about everyone until players started to step forward and demand some sort of role in these transactions.”

Between 1989 and 1992, the NFL instituted a policy called “Plan B.” The decision allowed teams to protect their 37 best players each year.

An 8-woman federal jury found Plan B to be illegal in 1992. This happened after 8 players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NFL. According to a New York Times story after the verdict:

The players argued that the league’s system of free agency — known as Plan B — constituted a restraint of trade by illegally limiting their ability to earn top salaries comparable with those of players in other pro sports.”

At the time, the NFL vowed to appeal the decision. Furthermore, they claimed that Plan B was essential to maintain a competitive balance between all 28 teams.

The jury awarded no damages to the players who filed the suit. But the judge ordered the NFL to pay their legal fees.

The first unrestricted free agent

The NFL’s first unrestricted free agent was Reggie White. White signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1993. White was a defensive lineman. He spent six seasons with the Packers and helped lead the team to victory in Super Bowl XXXI.

White’s signing as an unrestricted free agent was a landmark moment in NFL history, as it paved the way for other players to enjoy greater freedom and control over their careers. The current free agency system, which allows for unrestricted free agency and limits the use of the franchise tag, was put in place in part because of the lessons learned from White’s signing.

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Source: “How Free Agency Changed the NFL Forever” — Bleacher Report

WTF Fun Fact 13245 – The First NBA All-Star Game

NBA players played the first All-Star Game in Boston in 1951. That’s when Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown proposed the exhibition game after a college basketball gambling scandal damaged the reputation of the sport. As a result, Brown hoped the game would help restore public confidence in professional basketball.

What’s the story behind the first NBA All-Star game?

The first NBA All-Star Game was played on March 2, 1951, at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Boston Celtics owner Walter A. Brown proposed the idea in the aftermath of a point-shaving scandal that had rocked the college basketball world.

The point-shaving scandal affected college basketball in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This involved players from several high-profile college basketball teams. The players were paid to manipulate the outcomes. They did so by deliberately missing shots or committing fouls to keep the final score within a certain point spread. (The point spread is the predicted margin of victory determined by oddsmakers in Las Vegas. Bettors place wagers on the final score of the game based on this spread.)

In 1951, authorities arrested several players from the City College of New York and charged them with accepting bribes to fix games. That’s what brought the scandal to light. Eventually, players from New York University, Long Island University, and the University of Kentucky also admitted involvement.

The scandal had a significant impact on the sport, damaging the reputation of college basketball and hurting attendance at games. It also led to a crackdown on gambling and corruption in sports and resulted in changes to NCAA rules and regulations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

How the game has changed

The NBA All-Star Game has changed significantly over the years, evolving from a simple exhibition game to a weekend-long event with multiple events and activities.

The All-Star Game originally featured two teams, the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, competing against each other. However, in 2018, the NBA changed the format to a playground-style draft, with team captains selecting their rosters from the pool of All-Star players.

In the early years of the All-Star Game, the players were selected solely by the coaches of the respective teams. However, in 1974, the NBA began allowing fans to vote for the starting lineups, and today, fans make up 50% of the vote, with players and media members each making up 25%.

In addition to the All-Star Game itself, the weekend now includes a number of skills competitions, such as the Slam Dunk Contest, the Three-Point Contest, a Skills Challenge, a celebrity game, and a Rising Stars Challenge featuring the best young players in the league.

In recent years, the All-Star Game began including a charitable component, with the NBA and its players donating funds to various causes and organizations in the host city.  WTF fun facts

Source: “1951 NBA All-Star Game” — Wikipedia

WTF Fun Fact 13199 – The Nike Waffle Iron Story

Do you know the Nike waffle iron story? They’re two things that seem to have nothing in common. However, the first pair of Nike sneakers were made in a waffle iron. The company patented the design as the “Nike Waffle” in 1974.

The weird Nike waffle iron story

The design for the sole of the first Nike shoe was created by a co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman, who was a track coach at the University of Oregon. Bowerman was always looking for ways to improve the performance of his athletes.

One day, while making waffles for breakfast, he noticed the unique pattern on the waffle iron and had an idea to create a shoe sole with a similar pattern. He experimented with pouring liquid urethane into his wife’s waffle iron and the Waffle sole was born.

Nike named the shoe the “Nike Waffle Trainer” and introduced it in 1974.

It was a revolutionary design that provided excellent traction and durability. It quickly became a favorite among athletes.

Nike makes its mark

The Nike Waffle Trainer was a success for Nike in the 1970s. It helped establish the company as a major player in the athletic shoe market.

Top runners wore the shoe and helped Nike become known as a company that produced high-performance athletic footwear.

Nike not only patented the design but used the waffle sole in many of their other shoe models in the following years. The Waffle Trainer was one of the first shoes that Nike marketed as a performance shoe.

Nike still produces shoes with waffle soles. But they’re not as common as they were in the 1970s.

The company still uses the Waffle sole design in some of the company’s retro releases of the Waffle Trainer and other models like the Nike Waffle Racer. The waffle sole is also used in some of Nike’s newer running shoes since it provides excellent traction and durability.

While the Waffle Trainer is not as prevalent as it was in the past, it remains an iconic and important shoe in the company’s history and is still popular among some sneaker enthusiasts.

The cost of a Nike Waffle shoe can vary depending on the specific model. For example, the retail price of the Waffle Racer, which is one of the most popular models of the Waffle series, is around $85. However, prices can be higher or lower depending on the colorway, edition, and other factors. Retro releases of the Waffle Trainer can be more expensive, as they are considered collectible items and can be sold at a premium price. Prices for these retro releases can be anywhere from $100 to $200 or even more, depending on the condition of the shoe and its rarity.

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Source: “How a Dirty Old Waffle Iron Became Nike’s Holy Grail” — Popular Mechanics

WTF Fun Fact 13132 – The Super Bowl Shuffle

In 1985, the Chicago Bears recorded a hit rap song called “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” The song was even nominated for a Grammy award for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. However, they lost to the late singer Prince’s song “Kiss.”

The Bears’ Super Bowl Shuffle

We never expected to see the Chicago Bears nominated for a Grammy. But that’s precisely what happened after the team members known as the “Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew” released The Supe rBowl Shuffle in 1985.

The song was distributed through Capitol Records – and notable, it was released two months BEFORE their win in Super Bowl XX. How embarrassing would it have been if they lost?!

The song was popular, but it peaked at number 41 on the charts (hey, not everyone is a Bears fan).

The son’s Grammy nomination came in 1987. And that’s where the Bears lost.

The song’s legacy

The Super Bowl Shuffle made about $300,000, which went to the Chicago Community Trust to help struggling city families with housing (hence Walter Payton’s line “Now we’re not doing this because we’re greedy / The Bears are doing it to feed the needy.”)

Singers included Walter Payton, Willie Gault, Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon, Otis Wilson, Steve Fuller, Mike Richardson, Richard Dent, Gary Fencik, and William Perry. Meanwhile, the “Shufflin’ Crew” was on instrumentals and included some less well-known players like punter Maury Buford on cowbell and defensive back Ken Taylor on the tambourine. A “Shufflin’ Crew” chorus included players like Leslie Frazier. Few players declined to be involved.

The Bears weren’t the first or last team to try and make music history. The 1984 San Francisco 49ers recorded “We Are the 49ers” before winning the Super Bowl champs, but the disco-pop hit wasn’t all that successful (neither was their do-over “49ers Rap”). They were no “Super Bowl Shuffle,” cringey as it may have been.

And who could forget (except everyone) the Green Bay Packers’ attempt to spoof the “Macarena”, by recording “Packarena” in 1996?  WTF fun facts

Source: “Throwback Thursday: When the Chicago Bears Sang ‘The Super Bowl Shuffle” — Hollywood Reporter