16 October: A look at historic events that occurred on this day


On 16 October 2003, legendary Hungarian boxer Laszlo Papp breathed his last at the age of 77. The left-handed boxer clinched the gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, and the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, becoming the first boxer to win three consecutive gold medals in the prestigious competition. Only once, in his final Olympic match against American boxer José Torres, did he lose a round during his 13 Olympic victories. Papp served as the boxing coach of the Hungarian Olympic team from 1971 to 1992. In 2001, he was also honoured by being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

On the same day in 1978, Polish Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyla became the first non-Italian pope since 1523, assuming the title of Pope John Paul II. During his tenure, Wojtyla greatly enhanced the Catholic Church’s ties with Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Visiting 129 nations during his papacy, he was one of the most travelled world leaders in history. He played a role aiding in the downfall of communism in his native Poland and ultimately throughout all of Europe.

On 16 October 1968, two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gave the Black Power salute at their medal ceremony in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. As a result, they were asked to leave the Games. As the US national anthem, Star-Spangled Banner started to play, the two Black Americans lifted up their fists. Smith and Carlos, who had won first and third place in the 200-meter sprinting event at the 1968 Summer Olympics, turned to face the US flag and then raised their hands throughout the song.

Here are some other historic events that took place on 16 October:

  • In Brooklyn, New York, on 16 October 1916, Margaret Sanger founded the first birth control clinic in the country, sometimes referred to as the Brownsville Clinic. Birth control and abortion were prohibited in the US throughout the early 1900s, and the federal Comstock Act made it against the law to publish or distribute information about either or both of these topics. However, women continued to look for ways to prevent unintended pregnancies and went to the clinic to get information about birth control. The clinic only remained open for ten days. After being found guilty of breaking the Comstock Act, it was forced to close.
  • In 1946, Joachim von Ribbentrop and Ernst Kaltenbrunner were among 10 of the 12 defendants who received death sentences at the Nuremberg trials.
  • The People’s Republic of China conducted its first nuclear weapons test at the Lop Nur test site on 16 October 1964. This test was known as Project 596. It was weapon-grade uranium (U-235) implosion fission device created in a gaseous diffusion factory in Lanzhou. The “Two Bombs, One Satellite” programme of China included the atomic weapon. With the test, China became the fifth nuclear-capable country in the world and notably the first in Asia.

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16 October: A look at historic events that occurred on this day
16 October: A look at historic events that occurred on this day
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