Sport has seen many great teachers over the years who have revolutionised coaching and redefined aspects of their respective disciplines. This Teachers’ Day, HT takes a look at 10 greats who have had a deep impact in global sport in the past several decades, as mentors, administrators and great philosophers:
Angelo Dundee (boxing)
It is said that without the legendary American trainer, there would have been no Muhammad Ali. In the 1964 title fight against champion Sonny Liston, the young challenger was briefly left with eyes burning, and wanted his gloves off as he suspected foul play. But Dundee calmed him down, and Ali’s win set him on the path to boxing immortality. Dundee, of Italian descent, also trained 15 other world champions. He died in 2012, aged 90.
Sir Alex Ferguson (football)
Regarded as the most successful football managers of all time, he guided Manchester United from 1986 to 2013, winning 38 trophies, including 13 Premiership titles. He not just presided over big egos like Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and David Beckham, he was also instrumental in making United the global brand it is today.
Johan Cruyff (football)
The Dutch genius, the greatest player not to have won a World Cup, was the architect of Total Football and a great thinker in the game. He deeply influenced the playing style of both Holland and Barcelona. As Barca coach from 1988 to 1996, he took the team to four La Liga titles in a row. He was also instrumental in the setting up of its famous La Masia academy that has produced greats like Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi.
Franz Beckenbauer (football)
The German, nicknamed Kaiser, is an all-time great player, who is credited with inventing the role of the modern sweeper, or libero. He is one of only two men who have won the World Cup as player and coach, the other being Brazil’s Mario Zagallo. He marshalled his players brilliantly after the heartbreak of the 1986 final against a Maradona-inspired Argentina by guiding them to victory in 1990.
Glen Mills (athletics)
The Jamaican track and field coach has produced many outstanding sprinters, but none more famous than Usain Bolt. The tall sprinter, prone to hamstring injuries due to his ungainly running style, turned to Mills after elimination in the 200 metres heats at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Mills effectively dismantled and reassembled Bolt’s running style, turning him into the winning machine that completed a “triple triple” of winning gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at three successive Olympic Games - Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro.
Peter Carter (tennis)
The late Aussie coach was the man who shaped Roger Federer as the greatest modern champion. He guided the Swiss from the age of nine to 18, but died in a car crash in South Africa before Federer won the first of his record 17 Grand Slams. “Thanks to him, I have my entire technique and coolness,” a distraught Federer said after Carter’s death, describing Carter as his ‘real coach’.
Phil Jackson ( basketball)
Nicknamed the ‘Zen Master’, the American basketball coach managed Chicago Bulls from 1989 to 1998, guiding them to six NBA titles. He then took over the Los Angeles Lakers, coaching them to five NBA titles between 2000 and 2010. In 1996, he was named as one of the 10 greatest basketball coaches. He retired as a coach in 2011 to move into management.
Bela Karolyi (gymnastics)
Bela Karolyi, along with his wife Marta, are regarded as the ultimate gymnastics gurus. It was Bela, looking for talented children to be drafted into his new academy, who stumbled upon a young Nadia Comaneci doing cartwheels in her school, shaping the Romanian into an all-time great gymnast, and the first to be awarded a perfect 10.
Harry Hopman (tennis)
The late Australian is one of the original teachers in modern sport and the Hopman Cup mixed team event is a tribute to him. He was captain-cum-coach of 22 Australian Davis Cup teams between 1939 and 1967, with 16 titles. Hopman and athletics coach Percy Cerutty — who coached Herb Elliott, 1500m gold medallist at the 1960 Rome Olympics — are regarded as those who sowed the seeds of sporting excellence in Australia.