Letters of Note in the Field of Sports

The world of sports has given thousands upon thousands of hours of entertainment to people all over the world. On playing fields, courts, ski slopes and Olympic arenas, all kinds of drama has played out. Despite the intense action and dramatic competition, it’s often things that go on behind the scenes that are even more fascinating. Looking back at the history of sports, three letters of note stand out.

The Theft of the World Cup in 1966

The year was 1966 and the FIFA World Cup had been played out on the world stage, with England as the champions. The Jules Rimet Trophy stood behind glass doors in Westminster Central Hall, on display and under the careful watch of guards. But on March 20th, the trophy was stolen. A ransom letter soon followed, which is part of this collection of letters of note. The thief demanded 15,000 in Sterling pounds, in denominations of no greater than 1 pound or 5 pounds notes. They enclosed a part of the World Cup to prove that they did in fact have the trophy in their possession. Soon after, Scotland Yard nabbed a petty thief named Edward Betchley, lured with fake pound notes to the meeting place where the trophy would be handed over. Betchley claimed he was an innocent middleman with no knowledge of the whereabouts of the World Cup. A week later, a clever collie named Pickles discovered the precious world cup in a hedge behind his home and his owner returned it.

Hate Mail For a Suffragette

Emily Wilding Davison was a divisive extremist suffragette who  tended to make trouble wherever she went. An active member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, she was arrested multiple times, took violent action against property and people and went on no less than seven hunger strikes for her cause. In 1913 she suffered fatal injuries when she ran out into the path of racing horses at the Epsom Derby in Surrey, England. Badly trampled, she was transported to the hospital where she lay unconscious. During that time, hate mail and flooded the hospital, addressed to Ms. Davison. The letters of note included one of the worst, which was signed simply, “An Englishman,” expressing his gladness that she was in the hospital and hoping that she suffered “torture” until she died. “I consider you are a person unworthy of existence in this world,” the writer went on, “I should like the opportunity of…beating you to a pulp.” The writer did not get his chance, as Ms. Davison perished from her injuries without ever regaining consciousness.

An Unsolicited Ambassador

Dennis Rodman has made headlines for his sporting abilities on the basketball court, as well as headlines for his antics off the court. A troubled childhood turned into a troubled adulthood, but despite all that, Rodman deserves his credit of being  considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

In 2013 Dennis Rodman made news by befriending Kim Jong-un, the President of North Korea. Not only did he “make nice” with the unpredictable and volatile Jong-un, he self-proclaimed that he was the “Ambassador of Goodwill” to President Donald Trump. His dubious “service” included, according to a letter he wrote to the President, encouraging open lines of communication and wishing the best of luck at the Hanoi summit. Rodman wrote, “We have a lot of work to do but…we can have peace on the Korean Peninsula.” It’s unclear if Rodman’s role was a paid position. But it is clear from this letter that his heart was at least in the right place. And who knows? Perhaps Dennis Rodman’s “work” in North Korea really did make a difference at the time.