Former Minnesota basketball player Corky Taylor (below left), a central figure in a famous brawl with Ohio State, has died. He was 60.
On January 25, 1972, there was a memorable melee between Ohio State and Minnesota, which turned into one of the ugliest scenes in the history of sports. Gophers players and fans forged a brutal attack on the Buckeyes that Sports Illustrated cited the governor of Ohio describing as a “public mugging.”
The final 36 seconds of the game were not played because, as SI put it, there was “fear that the Gophers and their fans would rage out of control.”
It was sparked in part by Minnesota’s Taylor, who offered a hand to help up Ohio State’s Luke Witte after a hard foul by Clyde Turner. Taylor instead kneed Witte in the groin and punched him in the head, after which a stomp by the Gophers’ Ron Behagen knocked Witte unconscious.
However, the Minneapolis Star Tribune said that Taylor and Witte had become friends over the years after burying the hatchet. Taylor worked in Minneapolis for more than 30 years and was extremely involved in the community, the newspaper said.
“Oh, my gosh, it hurts,” Witte said, according to the newspaper. “I considered him my friend. … Bottom line was, he loved me and I loved him. From the bottom of my heart.”
According to the Star Tribune, the two started corresponding nine years ago and then began spending time together. It was a nice reconciliation between the two, which makes Taylor’s death even tougher on Witte. Corky Taylor profile
Photo via Star Tribune