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MAX WOOSNAM
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In an era when men such as C.B. Fry and R.E. Foster were setting new records in all their various sports, to be deemed "England's greatest sporting polymath" is quite an extraordinary achievement.
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Born to a wealthy family in Liverpool in 1892, Max Woosnam would go on to have one of those great Boy's Own sporting lives that usually only exist in comic books. And, as if captaining your country at football, winning Wimbledon, scoring a century at Lords, claiming an Olympic gold medal or shooting holes-in-one at golf weren't enough, he was a war hero as well! The life of Max Woosnam was truly no ordinary adventure.
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Max attended Winchester College as a boy and started out by captaining both the golf and cricket teams. It was there that he played for a Public Schools XI against the MCC at Lords, scoring 144 not out.
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In 1911, Max enrolled at Cambridge University where he became a five-time blue, representing the university at football, cricket, lawn tennis, real tennis and golf (by now being a scratch golfer, of course).
 
Woosnam (centre) with the Corinthians on tour to Brazil, 1913
 
From Cambridge, Woosnam was selected to play for the famous Corinthians and made his debut in December 1912 - just as the club were preparing for their upcoming tour to Brazil, in the summer of 1913.
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The first Corinthian tour to Brazil in 1910 had inspired the locals in Sao Paulo to form a club, SC Corinthians Paulista, which they had named after the legendary Englishmen. On the 1913 tour, the young Woosnam was said to have endeared himself to the crowds no end, scoring goals against both Rio de Janeiro and Paulistano. Selected again for the 1914 tour to Brazil, Woosnam was aboard the ship at sea when the Corinthians heard news of the outbreak of World War One. The side decided at once to return to England without kicking a ball, and enlist. 
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In the First World War, he fought alongside Siegfried Sassoon on the Western Front and in the infamous Gallipoli Campaign before returning a hero.
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He played only twice more for the Corinthians before going on to captain Manchester City. Playing as a centre half, it was highly unusual that an amateur would captain his professional teammates but, such was his ability and popularity, that by 1922 he was also elected to captain England as well. He, too, was selected to captain the Great Britain side at the 1920 Olympics but he had to turn it down - he had already committed himself to the Olympic tennis team!
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Max returns a forehand en route to securing a Gold medal at the Antwerp Olympics, 1920
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Often referred to as being a mere "mistress" for Woosnam, Max only came to competitive tennis while at university, but quickly developed quite a skill. Building a formidable doubles partnership with Noel Turnbull, Max would go on to win not only the Olympics gold medal of 1920 but the Wimbledon championship of 1921 as well. He also came runner up in the mixed doubles tournaments at each, with his partner Kitty McKane. Indeed, just as he was selected to captain the English football team in 1919, Max was also selected to captain the Great Britain Davis cup side.
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It was while touring America with the Davis Cup team that they were entertained by Charlie Chaplin at his home. Keen to test his abilities against the famed Englishman, Charlie challenged Max at a game of tennis (which Charlie lost), before also challenging him to a game of table tennis. Assured that he was a match for anyone at table tennis, Charlie was embarrassed when Max beat him effortlessly using just a butter knife as a bat! For being such a sore loser, Max pushed the star into his swimming pool and Chaplin, it was said, stormed up to his room and refused to emerge until Woosnam and his teammates had left.
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Max's life and career is unlikely ever to be matched. An all-rounder without equal, who was popular wherever he played - not only for his performance but for his joie de vivre and Corinthian Spirit...
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Max Woosnam at the Wimbledon Championships, 1921
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