Staked his claim as boxing‚Äôs top heavyweight with an eight-round demolition of Danny Williams last Saturday, Vitali Klitschko, one of the division‚Äôs three world champs. The 6'7", 250pound Ukrainian, who won the WBC belt last April, knocked Williams down 2:23 into a first round in which Klitschko landed 52 punches to Williams‚Äôs four. After Klitschko sent Williams, who had knocked out Mike Tyson in July, to the canvas for the fourth time midway through the eighth, referee Jay Nady stopped the fight. Later both fighters went to the hospital: Williams (32‚Äì4) for a brain scan and Klitschko (35‚Äì2, 34 KOs) for X-rays on his hands, which became swollen after he landed blow after blow to Williams‚Äôs head. ‚ÄúI feel this was the best performance of my career,‚Äù said Klitschko, who wore an orange flag on his trunks in support of Ukrainian opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. ‚ÄúI feel I am the real heavyweight champion. I‚Äôm willing to fight anybody.‚Äù
Died after a long illness at age 76, sports talk radio pioneer Pete Franklin. Long before Jim Rome was dissing his callers, the cranky Franklin was calling his listeners ‚Äúsickos‚Äù and ‚Äúmorons‚Äù on WWWE, a 50,000-watt Cleveland station. He also incited them to hate the Yankees and the Steelers (he referred to the latter‚Äôs home city as ‚ÄúPittspuke‚Äù) and was unafraid to bite the hand that fed him. In 1981 Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien sued Franklin, then the team‚Äôs color commentator, for $10 million for criticizing Stepien and the team. (Franklin often referred to Stepien on the air as a ‚Äúdoo-doo head.‚Äù) After 21 years Franklin left Cleveland for New York‚Äôs WFAN in 1987, but heart problems forced him to leave the station two years later.
Died of a suspected heart attack at age 87, track coach Arthur Lydiard, who revolutionized training--and essentially invented jogging. In the 1950s most runners used interval training (a series of short, fast runs), but Lydiard began preaching the benefits of running longer distances. The New Zealand native‚Äôs ideas caught on when his runners won the 800 meters and the 5,000 meters in the 1960 Olympics. John Walker, the 1976 1,500-meter gold medalist, called Lydiard a ‚Äúcoach of coaches,‚Äù saying, ‚ÄúHis influence will live forever.‚Äù
Arrested on federal charges that he conspired to distribute cocaine, Major Parker, 26, a former Florida forward who was the captain of the Gators‚Äô 2000 Final Four team. Parker and an acquaintance allegedly sold $12,800 worth of cocaine to an undercover officer working for the Gainesville police department on Dec. 7. Parker, who spent two years playing minor league basketball before becoming an administrative assistant to Florida coach Billy Donovan in 2003, was immediately suspended by the school. He faces five to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Suspended by Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, starting defensive tackle Larry Harrison Jr., who was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure and won‚Äôt play when the Wolverines face Texas in the Rose Bowl. On Dec. 7 Ann Arbor police allegedly observed Harrison, 20, exposing himself on the front porch of a home occupied by several women near the Michigan campus. Authorities investigating a string of similar incidents in the area said they noticed that the exposures stopped when the Wolverines were on the road. Harrison‚Äôs car had been spotted in the vicinity of a previous incident, and police said last week he was a suspect in 15 cases. Harrison, a junior, is due back in court for a hearing next month and faces up to a year in jail if convicted. ‚ÄúThe charges are very serious and very alarming,‚Äù said Carr. ‚ÄúI can only hope they are not true.‚Äù
Shaved her head to protest Notre Dame‚Äôs firing of football coach Tyrone Willingham, Chandra Johnson, the assistant to the school‚Äôs president. Johnson shaved her head on Dec. 4 and says she won‚Äôt regrow her hair until the Irish win a national championship in football. ‚ÄúBecause when we do, that will be justification for some people of why we fired Tyrone Willingham,‚Äù Johnson said. ‚ÄúNot for me, but for some people.‚Äù