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Fact of the Day

Feb 9, 1999

In the 1920's, "The Golden Age of Sports", many sportswriters had a fetish for inventing nicknames for the era's great stars.

In boxing the world heavy-weight boxing champion, Jack Demsey, was known as "The Manassa Mauler" while baseballer Babe Ruth's nickname was "The Sultan of Swat". In any sport, to be given a nickname was indeed a sure sign that an athlete had 'arrived'.

Some of the greats of swimming often had more than one nickname. For example, Johnny Weissmuller was known either as "The Prince of Waves" or "The Human Hydroplane". Arne Borg, the great Swedish 1500 swimmer, was sometimes called "Old Fish Eye" because of his pale blue eyes, but when he ripped a world record to shreds, as he often did, an adoring press were only too quick to use his other sobriquet, "The Swedish Hurricane". The Australian swimming hero of the Jazz Age, Andrew Charlton, possessed the shoulders of a lumberjack and the ankles of a ballet dancer, and was known abroad as "The Australian Strong Boy", but at home, he was just plain "Boy" Charlton.