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The Greatest Sportsman to Have Ever Lived
Charles Burgess (CB) Fry was born in Croydon on 25th April 1872. He has been called ‘The Greatest Sportsman that ever lived’, and ‘The Superman’ – great praise indeed, but does he live up to their names?
Fry established himself as a brilliant and athletic scholar during his time at Repton Public School and Wadham College Oxford, where he excelled in academics. During his time at Oxford he earned 12 caps for the Blues and in one year captained the football, cricket and athletics teams. Such dedication to the game earned him the nicknames ‘Almighty’ and ‘Lord Oxford’. At the same time he was playing rugby for his university, Blackheath and the Barbarians. And we don’t know where he got that time but he was a professional boxer, golfer, tennis player, javelin thrower, archer and swimmer.
He became a professional footballer when he was signed for Southampton and reached the FA Cup Final in 1901/02. He impressed with the intensity in his first game against Tottenham Spurs that he was selected to play for England in the match against Ireland.
He equaled the world record for the long jump with a jump of 23 feet 6.5 inches in 1893. With no formal long jump training he was so rude during the event that he prepared for the jump by smoking a cigarette and then started smoking again to finish the jump!
At London’s White City Stadium Fry won both the long jump and the 100 yards, in the first international event. He was apparently capable of winning medals (more than gold) at the 1896 Olympics, but was too busy in South Africa with the England cricket team. Cricket was certainly Fry’s best sport. He took both Sussex and England, and England did not lose when he was in charge. He achieved the first 94 years and six consecutive centuries – a record that still stands today. His career batting average was 50, and in 1901 he scored 3147 runs, an average of 78 runs per innings.
It was not only in sports that Fry excelled – he was captain of the training ship Mercury and turned boys into seamen; founder and star reporter of Fry’s magazine, a publication aimed at boys of which Fry was a hero; the latter is a speech writer for the Indian delegation to the League of Nations and also stood as a representative of freedom in the Parliament of Brighton. He was working for the League of Nations when he was given an empty throne in Albania! He never took the part because he would have wanted £10,000 a year and Fry was always broke so he didn’t fit the bill! He also wrote cricket books, a best-selling book and an autobiography!
In 1921 he again appeared for Sussex against the Australian Indians, scoring 59 and 37 in two innings. The England selectors asked Fry to captain the national team but at the age of 49 he refused and retired from cricket. Fry died in 1956 and in our opinion should have been the greatest sportsman of all time
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