Who said that they would give up their career to be awarded just one cap playing rugby for their country?
Richard Harris, of course. While many might think that “Dumbledore” would have been more interested in Quiddich, it seems that the Irish master of both stage and screen’s first love was for rugby and he would have given his last dollar to have played for the shamrock greens just once. If Richard were still with us, he would have been thrilled at the heights reached by his beloved Irish rugby team in recent years.
Who was an elite 800-meter runner who could have run for their country?
Who would have thought that the nerdy but handsome conservative newspaper columnist, ABC political commentator and director of public policy and research think tank (Centre for Independent Studies), Tom Switzer, would have once been an elite 800 m runner? Tom won the National School’s 800 m championship in 1989 and had the skill and talent to make the Australian team too, if he had gone on with his athletics career. Instead, Tom chose to focus on his studies and his future reporting and broadcasting career.
Which remarkable athlete played sport for his country in two different sports but, all the while, secretly wished to wear the baggy green cap for Australia in cricket?
That would be tonight show host, Rugby League commentator and sports journalist Rex Mossop. Rex played rugby union for Manly and the Australian Wallabies, followed by a successful career at top Rugby League club, the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, where he scored multiple caps playing for the Australian Rugby League Kangaroos. Being an athlete with caps in two international sports was not enough for Rex. Mossop regularly confessed to friends that what he really wanted was to play cricket for Australia. Only one problem with that ambition, admitted Rex. He was really crap at cricket!
What celebrity started their working life as a semi-pro athlete playing both State League and National League basketball.
Given that this chap is tall, slim and athletic perhaps it is not hard to imagine that Ernie Dingo was once a very good basketballer. Such was Ernie’s talent as shown during his stints with the State League’s East Perth Hawks and the National League’s Wildcats that he, most likely, could have carved out a professional career in basketball. Unfortunately for the NBL but fortunately for Australian big and small screen audiences the much-loved actor and television host found the easier pace of an actor’s life much more to his liking than the rough and tumble of pro sports.
Which multi-skilled athlete supported his university legal studies with stints as a professional footballer and professional basketballer.
As one of the American entertainment industry’s most brilliant all rounders it was baritone-bass singer Paul Robeson who funded his university studies with stints in numerous pro sports. While representing his university in a range of sports (where he suffered much racist bullying from both his teammates and opponents) Robeson was also holding down jobs in professional basketball and American football teams as well. Robeson went on to win academic honours for his university study performance but found it difficult to pursue a legal career when white assistants refused to work for him. Robeson gave up his sporting and legal careers to follow his other love in music.
Which world beating athlete in one sport also represented his university in rowing, rugby and boxing?
Multiple world record holder in swimming, Cecil Healy, from Australia, won the silver medal in the 100 m freestyle and a gold medal in the 4 X 100m freestyle relay at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Not long after, Healy’s swimming career was interrupted by the First World War. While studying at officer school at Cambridge University Healy demonstrated his versatility as an athlete by winning university blues in boxing, rowing and rugby as well as swimming. Tragically, Healy was killed in action only weeks after concluding his officer training. Healy is still the only Australian Olympic Gold medallist to be killed in battle.
What elite athlete is still training diligently in the hope of securing a gig as a professional athlete despite being over sixty years old?
Retired soldier, now working as a journalist, writer and cricket commentator, Cate McGregor, plays first grade cricket in the ACT. In recent years she has been working hard on her batting, with the help of several prominent coaches, in the hope of her winning a spot on one of Australia’s professional Women’s Big Bash League cricket teams. If she succeeds in her dream, she will become one of the only professional athletes in the world who commenced a pro career after their sixtieth birthday. McGregor, who transitioned her gender several years ago, was always a keen and capable cricketer, as a young man, but passed up on opportunities to pursue elite cricket through focusing on a military career.
Which prominent and successful individual once had a successful career as an aerobics instructor and fitness leader?
The new member of parliament in the Australian federal seat of Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps, as well as being a highly regarded medical general practitioner was once the President of the A.M.A. (Australian Medical Association) as well as a very popular aerobics instructor and gym leader. Phelps, who was already working hard at a medical practice and being a mother, managed to hold court over an adoring fan base of gym enthusiasts at the Physical Factory in Mosman for several years. Phelps’ classes were renowned, across Sydney, as being some of the cities toughest and most enjoyable high impact exercise options.
Which internationally famous entertainer and life-time gym enthusiast worked front of house at the very gym where Kerryn Phelps was training hundreds of adoring fans?
In the 1990s Hugh Jackman was the popular “front of house” man at the Physical Factory in Mosman. After several years as one of the gyms most loved employees, Hugh took up an offer to train as an actor at WAPA (Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts). His dramatic training led him to a phenomenal career with international acclaim in the theatre, in film and on television.
Which critically important twentieth-century character refused to allow one of the centuries most significant political events to interrupt a gymnasium session?
Despite a burgeoning interest in politics, and despite the excitement of her fellow East-Berliners who flocked to the Berlin Wall as it was being pulled down, Angela Merkel, (who was to go on to become the Chancellor of the unified East and West Germany a few years later), refused to be distracted from her gym session and kept up with her bench pressing and arm curling while the rest of the city gathered at the wall to celebrate.
What famous individual not only played a pretty fine game of rugby but also spent significant time helping to grow the sport and its administration in his state and country.
Englishman, Will Pratt, much better known as Boris Karloff… and even better known as Frankenstein and the Mummy… had a successful long-term acting career in Hollywood. He starred in a broad range of tinsel-town roles but was most famous for playing frightening characters in horror films. As well as scaring the daylights out of cinema goers throughout the twentieth century, Boris also frightened competitors on Southern California’s rugby pitches. Will (or Boris) didn’t just play the game. He spent many years dedicated to the administration and the growth of the sport in both California and across the United States.
Which famous character and keen athlete has made very little fuss over the fact that he is a highly skilled body surfer?
Most know Barack Obama as America’s first African-American President. It occurs to very few that Obama is also America’s first Hawaiian President. When one considers Barack’s Hawaiian background it should not surprise anyone to learn that Obama is a very good body surfer. Very few Hawaiians grow up (certainly not the athletic ones) not being able to handle themselves in Hawaii’s famous waves. Obama is no exception. Granted, while at high school, Barack was more well-known as one of the stars on the school basketball team (that went on to win a state championship), but Obama can also handle himself in the surf. He has never been a keen board rider but, like so many others from his state, he is a committed water-man.