Court spectators lined up to watch the trial of an Afghani asylum seeker charged with the murder of Maria Ladenburger, a 19-year-old German medical student

September 6, 2017

The trial of Hussein Khavari, who is accused of raping and killing a young woman in October 2016, began on Sept. 5, 2017 at the regional court in Freiburg, Germany.  Members of the public lined up for two hours before the first day of trial to witness the court proceedings.  Pictures were taken of Khavari arriving at court in handcuffs and shackled at the ankles. The trial is expected to conclude in December after the court hears from at least 45 witnesses and 10 experts.

Maria Ladenburger, 19, a medical student at the University of Freiburg, was found dead on October 16, 2016 in a river in the town of Freiburg near Germany’s border with Switzerland.  Police later arrested Afrhani asylum seeker Khavari, who claimed to be 17 at the time but has now admitted that he was at least 18 when he arrived in Germany in 2015 without any identification or travel documents.  Prosecutors in the case believe that Khavari could be at least 22-years-old.

Ms. Ladenburg attended a party on the night of her death.  Khavari is alleged to have purposely waited outside the party until Ms. Ladenburg left on her bicycle about 3 a.m.  Khavari is alleged to have followed the young student before attacking her by biting her on the head and chest.  Prosecutors allege that Khavari ripped off Ms. Ladenburg’s clothes, choked her and raped her.  Prosecutors further allege that Khvari then threw Ms. Ladenburg into the River Dreisam in hopes that she would drown.

Chief prosecutor Ekkart Berger said at the start of trial:

“What exactly happened that night, the investigators were able to reconstruct in detail. We assume that he had a killing intention from the beginning. . . . At about 3 a.m. or a few minutes earlier, the defendant Hussein attacked Maria. He grabbed the handlebars of the bicycle and brought her to a halt.”

David Muller, head of the police Special Commission, said at a press conference:

“Through interviews and a web-based survey, we were able to reconstruct Maria’s final hours. The 19-year-old student had been at a party. By 2:37 a.m. she left the party, Maria then cycled home as usual. The young woman had been the victim of a sexual offense and a violent crime.”

Khavari told the court that he was born in Afghanistan but moved to Iran when he was 13.  (However, there is evidence that he is Iraqi.) After getting into trouble with the police, Khavari is said to have fled to Turkey and then to Greece.  Stern magazine reported that when he was in Greece he almost killed a 20-year-old girl by throwing her off a cliff in Corfu in 2013 — for which he was sent to prison for 10 years but later released.  Khavari then traveled to Germany as an unaccompanied minor in November 2015.  He is said to have developed an alcohol and drug problem — including the use of heroin up to twice a week for several months.

The assault of the woman in Greece was reported in a United Kingdom publication called METRO:

“It later emerged that Khavari was previously sentenced to 10 years in prison for attempted murder after he threw a woman off a cliff in Corfu in May 2013. is still unclear why Khavari, who arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied minor, was released by Greek authorities after just two years. Apparently, the German authorities knew nothing of his past and so let him into the country as a registered asylum seeker.  The victim, a history student, fell 25 ft down the Greek cliff and only survived because she knew how to protect her head from her hobby of mountaineering.  She said she had been walking home when Khavari suddenly appeared in front of her: ‘I gave him my purse. But when the headlights of a car illuminated him he pushed me backwards.’ Speaking to the Greek TV channel Alfa in 2014 she went on: ‘Then he grabbed me at the hips and legs, lifted me up and threw me down the cliff.’ After Bild newspaper showed a recent photograph of him to his lawyer in the Greek trial, Maria-Eleni Nikolopoulou, she told them: ‘This is the same person, definitely. I’m speechless.'”

(Source: John Roberts, Afghan national ‘raped EU official’s daughter to satisfy sexual urges before killing her’, METRO — Sept. 6, 2017.)  http://metro.co.uk/2017/09/06/afghan-national-raped-eu-officials-daughter-to-satisfy-sexual-urges-before-killing-her-6906912/

Another account of Khavari’s crime in Greece was reported in the on-line publication Revolvy:

“The suspect, identified as Hussein Khavari, entered Germany in 2015 without identification and claimed to have come from Afghanistan and to have been born in 1999. Because of his age he was granted asylum as an underage unaccompanied refugee and was placed with a foster family.  Following Khavari’s arrest as a suspect for the rape, Stern wrote that in 2014 he had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for robbing a 20-year-old student and throwing her over a cliff in Corfu, Greece during 2013. The victim survived with heavy injuries.  This was confirmed by the suspect’s Greek lawyer and by a fingerprint match. Khavari was released after one and half years in prison due to a general amnesty for juvenile offenders initiated by the Greek government. He violated his probation in Greece by not regularly reporting to a police station and migrated to Germany where German authorities did not find out about his earlier conviction because Greece had not initiated an international search via Interpol.  During the Greek trial in 2014, the suspect told the court that he had been born in 1996 and than he had fled from Iran, both of which conflicts with claims made when he entered Germany. In February 2017 the public prosecution stated that a medical investigation had revealed that the suspect was not a minor, but was at least 22 years old at the time of the crime. In March 2017, because of ‘doubts that could not be dismissed’ the suspect was not accused in criminal court, where the penalty for murder could be life in prison, but instead, in juvenile court, where the same crime carries only a maximum 10-year sentence.”

(Source: Murder of Maria Ladenburger — Revolvy — https://broom02.revolvy.com/topic/Murder%20of%20Maria%20Ladenburger )

Ms. Ladenburger’s father, Dr. Clemens Ladenburger, is a legal adviser to the European Commission in Brussels.  Ms. Ladenburg worked in her spare time helping out migrants in various shelters and homes in Freiburg.  A funeral was held for Ms. Ladenburger during October 2016 at Notre Dame des Graces Church in Brussels.

Khvari stayed free for seven weeks before police arrested him. On Dec. 2, 2016, police announced at a press conference that they arrested Khavari on suspicion of murdering Ms. Ladenburg.  Khavari was arrested after police found Khavari’s DNA on a scarf belonging to the victim near a bicycle path. Police also found a single strand of Khavari’s hair on a nearby blackberry bush.  The 18.5 cm-long strand of black hair had partially been dyed blond.  Police also viewed a closed circuit video that showed Khavari on a local tram with long black hair partially dyed blond.

About one month after Ms. Ladenburg’s murder, 27-year-old Carolin Gruber was sexually assaulted and murdered in an attack in the same area.  Ms. Gruber’s body was found in a wooded area in Endinge, 18 miles from Freiburg, on Nov. 10, 2016.  Khavari has not been charged with Ms. Gruber’s murder.  Police have found no DNA evidence in the case of Ms. Gruber’s murder.

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Comments by the Irish press after Conor McGregor’s loss to Floyd Mayweather

August 27, 2017

American boxer Floyd “Money” Mayweather earned his 50th straight win in a 10th round TKO of Irish UFC champion Conor “The Notorious” McGregor.  Here are some comments made by the Irish press after McGregor’s loss.

The Irish Times — “McGregor was more than gracious [after his loss].  He was almost ebullient, waving a glass of his soon-to-be-launched whiskey brand . . . . And if he seemed a touch more euphoric than beaten boxers generally are, you could understand why. He had faced one of the greats and avoided total humiliation, he had escaped without serious injury, and his earnings, once his cut of the pay-per-view, gate receipts, and merchandise sales is added to the guaranteed $30 million purse, could total around $100 million, making this by far the most lucrative debut in professional boxing history. He didn’t quite get to the top of the world, but from where he’s standing the view doesn’t look too bad.”  (Tim Early, Despite defeat in the ring McGregor has still won.)

Irish Independent — “The UFC lightweight champion was the subject of some ridiculous criticism prior to last evening’s bout and for much of the build-up to the fight he was ridiculed as an unworthy opponent who was simply a part of Floyd Mayweather’s latest cash grab. That was all quickly proven to be inaccurate lat evening and the Irishman did himself, his country, and the sport of MMA proud.” (James Edwards, Conor McGregor may have lost but he won UFC respect in the world of boxing in Floyd Mayweather defeat.)

The Irish Sun — “With the blows raining down on McGregor he should have taken an eight count and perhaps prolonged Mayweather’s 50th bout. But he courageously refused to meet the canvas and instead was rescured by referee Robert Byrd before he was seriously hurt.” (Wally Downes Jr., Floyd Mayweather beats gutsy Conor McGregor with 10th round stoppage to seal place in history.)

Irish Daily Star — “The Notorious put up a fight against the boxing veteran. Mayweather eventually won by TKO in the tenth round. He can sail off into the sunset with his undefeated record intact at 50-0. It’s a different story for McGregor. At just 29-years-old, the Dubliner still has a lot of time to fill and things to do before he announces his retirement. . . . Even though McGregor’s professional boxing record stands at 0-1, he changed a lot of people’s minds last night by putting it up to one of the best ever.”  (Sean Walsh, Conor McGregor lost to Mayweather, but what will he do next?)

Irish Daily Mirror — “Conor McGregor will spend a few days reflecting on his defeat by Floyd Mayweather but talk will then return to the Irishman’s next fight. McGregor started well against the boxing legend on Saturday night before he fatigued and Mayweather’s class prevailed.  And [McGregor] is now expected to return to the UFC.”  (Martin Domin, What next for Conor McGregor? Irishman faces tough decisions after defeat by Floyd Mayweather.)

Irish Daily Mail — “But there were no tickets to spare for McGregor’s official after-party, which took place at the Encore Beach Club in Las Vegas in the early hours of Sunday. McGregor had been stopped by Mayweather in round 10, but the defiant Irishman grabbed the mic and shouted to his reveling supporters: ‘You’ll never beat the Irish!’ . . . The 29-year-old, who earned a basic purse of 62 million pounds for the fight, certainly did not look like a man who had lost.  Before dancing on stage to Fat Joe’s All the Way Up, he addressed his adoring fans. . . . McGregor, who arrived at the club around 3 am, supplied his entourage with free drinks to the value of 77,643 pounds.” (Robert Summerscales, Conor McGregor celebrates hard despite losing to Floyd Mayweather as 62 million pound richer MMA fighter signs for 77,643 pound booze bill and tells fans at 150 pound-a-ticket after-party: ‘You’ll never beat the Irish’.”)

The Irish News — “Conor McGregor was ‘brought to school’ by Floyd Mayweather and needs to ‘stay in his lane,’ according to former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. UFC star McGregor lasted 10 rounds with Mayweather in his maiden professional boxing match in Las Vegas, as his opponent stopped him to retire with a perfect 50-0 record.  Many had predicted McGregor would barely last a round with one of the greatest fighters of all time, so he has earned some credit to have stayed the course for as long as he did.”  (Conor McGregor given boxing lesson by Mayweather say Lennox Lewis.)

The Straits Times — “Irish media hailed Dublin-born Conor McGregor for a gritty display on Sunday following his 10th-round loss to Floyd Mayweather in their Las Vegas super-fight. . . . McGregor wears his Irish identity with pride and trooped into the ring draped in the national flag in front of thousands of his supporters, who had spent vast sums of money to fly to Las Vegas.”  (AFP, Irish media talks up Conor McGregor’s fighting spirit despite loss.)

Irish Examiner — “Conor McGregor was told he had ‘nothing to be ashamed of’ by boxing great Lennox Lewis and several others came out in support of the Irishman as the dust started to settle on his round 10 loss to Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas.  The UFC star was not expected to last longer than a round by many on his boxing debut, particularly given his opponent is one of the greatest fighters of all time. But going into the 10th round has earned him plenty of credit, particularly on American soil, with the bout described as ‘amazing’ and McGregor praised for making the notoriously cagey Mayweather open up.”  The article noted that Shane Mosley tweeted: “Damn good fight. Mayweather put on a hell of a show. Conor did much better than I had expected. Hats off to both guys. Worth the money.” The article also quoted a tweet by Manny Pacquiao: “Respect to McGregor for taking a chance but congrats to Floyd on #50!”  (Conor McGregor receives support from boxing legends after loss.)

NHL drafts four Swedes in the first round

July 4, 2017

Four Swedes were drafted by NHL teams during the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The first round of the 55th entry draft took place on June 23, 2017 at Chicago. Hockey players born between Jan. 1, 1997 and Sept. 15, 199 were eligible for selection in the draft.

Pick No. 5 by the Vancouver Canucks — The Vancouver Canucks drafted Elias Pettersson (6-2, 164 pound center), who played for the Vaxjo Lakers Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Vaxjo, Sweden during the 2016-17 season. Petterssson is said to have great instincts and can create offense with good speed and quickness. His brother, Emil Pettersson, who is also a center, was selected in the sixth round (No. 155) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.  Emil now plays in the Swedish Hockey League.  Elias Pettersson, 18, was born on Nov. 12, 1998 at Sundsvall, Sweden.

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ELIAS PETTERSSON WAS THE FIRST SWEDISH PLAYER PICKED IN THE 2017 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

Pick No. 7 by the New York Rangers — The New York Rangers drafted Lias Andersson (5-11, 200 pound center), who played for Frolunda Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Gothenburg, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  He has also played for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in Jonkoping, Sweden. Andersson is said to be a rugged, two-way left-handed center who is effective on face offs and hard to knock off the puck.  He can also play wing.  Andersson recently signed a two-year contact with Frolunda in Sweden and will report in 2017-18.  He is the son of former NHL player Niklas Andersson.  Andersson’s uncle, Mikael Andersson, also played in the NHL.  His grandfather, Ronnie Andersson, played goaltender for Vastra Frolunda, Sweden.  Lias Anderson, 18, was born on Oct. 13, 1998 at Smogen, Sweden.

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LIAS ANDERSSON IS A THIRD-GENERATION SWEDISH PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY PLAYER

(PHOTO CREDIT: RENA LAVERTY / USA HOCKEY)

Pick No. 15 by the Vegas Golden Knights — The Vegas Golden Knights drafted Erik Brannstrom (5-9, 179 pound defenseman), who played for HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League in Jonkoping, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Brannstrom is said to be an outstanding skater and a two-way player who defends as well as he pushes the offensive pace.  It is said than Brannstrom, although undersized, could turn out to be the sleeper pick of the 2017 draft class.  Brannstrom, 17, was born on Sept. 2, 1999 at Eksjo, Sweden.

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ERIK BRANNSTROM WAS VEGAS’ THIRD FIRST-ROUND PICK OF THEIR INAUGURAL NHL DRAFT

(PHOTO CREDIT: JOHAN FREIJD, HV71)

Pick No. 17 by the Toronto Maple Leafs — The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Timothy Liljegren (5-11, 188 pound defenseman), who played for Rogle BK (Rogle Bandyklubb) of the Swedish Hockey League in Angelholm, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  He is said to have tremendous speed, balance and feel for the game, makes good decisions under pressure and control the play at both blue lines.  Liljegren is expected to return to Sweden to further his development.  Liljegren, 18, was born on April 30, 1999 at Kristianstad, Sweden.

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TIMOTHY LILJEGREN IS EXPECTED TO FIT IN NICELY WITH THE SWEDES ALREADY IN THE LEAFS’ ORGANIZATION

(PHOTO CREDIT: ROGLE BK)

Second Round, Pick No. 36 by the New Jersey Devils — The New Jersey Devils drafted Jesper Boqvist (5-11, 165 pound center), who played for Brynas IF of the Swedish Hockey League in Gavle, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Boqvist, 18, was born on Oct. 30, 1998 at Falun, Sweden.

Second Round, Pick No. 37 by the Buffalo Sabres — The Buffalo Sabres drafted Marcus Davidsson (6-0, 191 pound center), who played for Djurgarden IF Ice Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Stockholm, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Davidsson, 18, was born on Nov. 18, 1998 at Tyreso, Sweden.

Second Round, Pick No. 38 by the Detroit Red Wings — The Detroit Red Wings drafted Gustav Lindstrom.  Additional information is not available on Lindstrom.

Second Round, Pick No. 44 by the Arizona Coyotes — The Arizona Coyotes drafted Filip Westerlund (5-11, 180 pound defenseman), who played for Frolunda Hockey Club of the Swedish Hockey League in Gothenburg, Sweden during the 2016-17 season.  Westerlund, 18, was born on April 17, 1999 at Harnosand, Sweden.

Swedish hockey players drafted during rounds three through seven — There were 21 Swedish players draft in the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh rounds.

Third Round — Fabian Zetterlund, LW, Farjestad (Swe  Jr.) and Jonas Rondbjerg, RW, Vaxjo (Swe Jr.).

Fourth Round — Malte Setkov, D, Malmo (Swe Jr.), Tim Soderlund, C, Skelleftea (Swe) and Emil Bernstrom, C, Leksand (Swe Jr.).

Fifth Round — Lukas Elvenes, RW, Rogle (Swe Jr.), Jacob Peterson, C, Frolunda (Swe Jr.), Sebastian Aho, D, Skelleftea (Swe), Calle Sjalin, D, Ostersund (Swe 3), Sebastian Walfridsson, D, MODO (Swe Jr.), Jan Drozg, LW, Leksand (Swe U18), Olle Eriksson Ek, G, Farjestad (Swe Jr.) and Linus Olund, C, Brynas (Swe).

Sixth Round — Arvid Holm, G, Karlskrona (Swe Jr.), Olle Lycksell, RW, Linkoping (Swe Jr.) and Jonathan Davidsson, RW, Djurgarden (Swe).

Seventh Round — Eric Walli-Walterholm, RW, Djurgarden (Swe Jr.), Victor Berglund, D, MODO (Swe Jr.), Filip Sveningsson, LW, HV71 (Swe Jr.), Anton Andersson, D, Lulea (Swe Jr.) and K. Roykas Marthinsen, LW, Almtuna (Swe Jr.).

Number One Draft Pick — The number one draft pick was Nico Hischier (6-1, 178 pound center), who became the highest drafted Switzerland-born player in NHL history.  Hischier was drafted by the New Jersey Devils.  During the 2016-17 season he played for Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).  In his first season in the QMJHL, Hischier was named rookie of the year and was named the best rookie in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).  Hischier, 18, was born on Jan. 4, 1999 at Naters, Switzerland.

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NICO HISCHIER OF SWITZERLAND HOPES TO PLAY IN THE NHL NEXT SEASON

(PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

Number Two Draft Pick — The number two draft pick was Nolan Patrick (6-2, 199 pound center) of Canada.  Patrick was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers. During the 2016-17 season he played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Patrick’s father, Steve Patrick, and his uncle, James Patrick, each played in the NHL. Patrick’s grandfather, Stephen Patrick, played professional football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League (CFL).  Patrick, 18, was born on Sept. 19, 1998 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Number Three Draft Pick — The number three draft pick was Miro Heiskanen (6-1, 172 pound defenseman) of Finland.  Heiskanen was drafted by the Dallas Stars. He was regarded as the best draft-eligible defenseman at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland with two goals and 10 assists in seven games.  During the 2016-17 season he played for Sporting Society Comrades, Helsinki (HIFK) in Finland.  Heiskanen, 17, was born on July 18, 1999 at Espoo, Finland.

 

Vasternorrland

June 30, 2017

MAP.VASTERNORRLAND

 

MAP OF VASTERNORRLAND

(MAP CREDIT: GEOATLAS.COM)

Vasternorrland County (Vasternorrlands lan) is a county (lan) in the north of Sweden on the Gulf of Bothnia.  The name Vasternorrland means “Western Norland,” as it was in the western part of the original Norrland (northern Sweden and northern Finland).

Vasternorrland’s area takes in most of the two traditional provinces of Medelpad and Angermanland.  Vasternorrland has an area of 23,107 square meters (8,922 square miles).

Norrland has high mountains, rushing rivers, small cold mountain brooks, lakes, sea, forests and wilderness.  Along the coast of the northern part of Sweden are many beautiful cities and towns.  Some of the cities along the coastline are Ornskoldsvik, Harnosand and Sundsvall, which are major shipping centers for timber and pulp.

Skuleskogen National Park is located 27 km (17 miles) south of Ornskoldsvik and 40 km (25 miles) north of Kramfors.  It covers a surface of 3,062 hectares (7,570 acres), of which 282 hectares (700 acres) are maritime.  There are many rocky peaks.  The highest peak is Slattdalsberget, which is 280 meters (920 feet) high.

Vasternorrland is said to be the land of Sweden’s “green gold” due to huge forests, forestry industries and a centuries-old tradition and expertise in wood-working skills.

The municipalities within Vasternorrland are Harmosand (population 25,269) Kramfors (18,681), Solleftea (19,846), Sundsvall (98,325), Timra (17,992), Ange (9,495) and Ornskoldsvik (55,964).  The total population of Vasternorrland County is 245,572.

(Source: Statistiska Centralbyran, Sverige.)

The largest populations within Vasternorrland County are Sundsvall (including Johannedal, Sundsbruk and Tunadal — 58,065), Ornskoldsvik (including Gimat, Overhornas, Arnasvall and Vasterhus — 32,700), Harnosand (18,600), Timra (10,497), Solleftea (including Sollefea norra — 8,885), Kvissleby (including Njurundabommen, Skottsund, Dingersjo, Essvik and Juniskar — 8,797), Kramfors (including Frano — 6,752), and Vi (Alvik including Gustavsberg — 5,827).

HARNOSAND, SWEDEN

Harnosand the seat of Harnosand Municipality.  Harnosand is a beautiful small town near the island of Harnon.  It is called “the gate to the High Coast” and “the Athens of Northern Sweden.”  The town has the largest open-air museum in the northern part of Sweden.  The museum is called “Murberget.”  Harnosand has a long and rich maritime history. Harnosand was formerly a shipbuilding town. It is located on a beautiful and dramatic coastline. There are three marinas in central Harnosand.  The Adalen 3 is a tourist boat that leaves from the dock at the wharf in central Harnosand.  Harnosand opened its first theater in the early 1840s.  Today’s theater building is located on Central Park and was opened in 1970.  The town installed electric street lighting in 1885 — the first place in Europe with such lighting. The city was first built in 1585.

The High Coast Bridge (Hoga Kusten Bron) spans the Angerman River near Veda on the border between Harnosand and Kramfors.  It is the fourth longest suspension bridge in Europe and the third longest suspension bridge in Scandinavia (after the Great Belt Fixed Link in Denmark and the Hardanger Bridge in Norway).  The bridge was constructed between 1993 and 1997 and was officially opened on Dec. 1, 1997.  The total length is 1,867 meters (6,125 feet), the span is 1,210 meters (3,970 feet) and the column pillars are 180 meters (591 feet) tall.  The maximum height for ships is 40 meters (131 feet).

Harnosand was granted its town charter in 1585.  It is the county’s oldest city.

VIDEO (1:09) OF HARNOSAND # 1 — NARRATION IN SWEDISH

(VIDEO CREDIT: HARNOSAND KOMMUN)

VIDEO (5:35) OF HARNOSAND # 2 — NARRATION IN SWEDISH

(VIDEO CREDIT: HARNOSAND KOMMUN)

VIDEO (5:36) OF HARNOSAND # 3 — NARRATION IN SWEDISH

(VIDEO CREDIT: HARNOSAND KOMMUN)

KRAMFORS, SWEDEN

Kramfors is the seat of Kramfors Municipality.  The High Coast Bridge (Hoga Kusten Bron) crosses the Angerman River (Angermanalven River) near Kramfors.  The suspension bridge spans 180 meters and is only 70 meters shorter than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.  The larger communities of Umea and Sundsvall are situated within a commuting distance of Kramfors.  (Umea is the capital of Vasterbotten County — Vasterbottens lan).

VIDEO (3:34): AERIAL TOUR OF KRAMFORS

(VIDEO CREDIT: GUSTAV LORENTZEN)

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THE HIGH COAST BRIDGE (HOGA KUSTEN BRON) AT KRAMFORS, SWEDEN

(PHOTO CREDIT: UNKNOWN)

SOLLEFTEA, SWEDEN

Solleftea is the seat of Solleftea Municipality.  It is located at the lowest rapids of the Angerman River (Angermanalven). The Angerman River winds through the municipality on its way to the sea.  The river is 450 km and is the longest navigable river in Sweden.  A building called the “Pharmacy Building” was constructed in 1889 in the neo-Gothic style. The building now serves as a library and the city’s museum.  A wooden structure, the Hotel Appelbergs, is located in central Solleftea.  It was built in 1882 by lumberman and innkeeper Erik Appelberg. Guests at the hotel have included King Oscar II and King Gustav V.

Although Solleftea is an age-old trading and commercial center, it was not granted its charter as a town until 1917.  The town is well-known for its military regiment.

There is salmon and sea trout fishing in the Angerman River in the middle of the town of Solleftea and grayling fishing in the Meaforsen rapids of the Fax River.

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MAP OF SOLLEFTEA, SWEDEN

(MAP CREDIT: SOLLEFTEA KOMMUN)

SOLLEFTEA VIDEO (6:24) — NARRATION IN SWEDISH

(VIDEO CREDIT: HIGH COAST FILMS AND SOLLEFTEA KOMMUN)

SUNDSVALL, SWEDEN

Sundsvall is the seat of Sundsvall Municipality.  Sundsvall lies at the mouth of the Selanger River and the Gulf of Bothnia. Sundsvall is the center of one of the most important pulp and paper producing regions in northern Europe.  Mid Sweden University (Mittuniversitetet) is located in Sundsvall.  The university was founded in 1993 at has about 9,000 students and 550 faculty members. After fires in 1721 and 1803, the town was entirely rebuilt in brick and stone.  Kulturmagasinet near the harbor is a cultural center that serves as a library and a museum.  Located near Sundsvall is the county’s largest airport, the Sundsvall-Harnosand Airport (aka Sundsvall-Timra Airport).

The town’s website says:

“Ideally situated in the middle of Sweden near the mouths of the Ljungan and Indalsalven rivers, the town of Sundsvall lies where Selanger Creek flows into Sundsvall Bay and the Gulf of Botnia.  Our town is located 380 km North of Stockholm. The town of Sundsvall was rapidly transformed to the industrial centre of the Norrland region during the industrial revolution in the 1880s. In recent years the town has been less depending on heavy industry and more focused on trade and education. The Sundsvall region, home to some 115,000 people, is the most densely populated area of northern Sweden. It plays a prominent role, not only in sports, industry and commerce, but also in education, culture and the arts. In July we host one of the largest street festivals in Sweden. The Gatufesten festival attracts up to 180,000 people.”

Hirschska House (Huset) is located in the Nyttan neighborhood of Sundsvall.  The Northern European Renaissance structure was completed in 1891 after the devastating Sundsvallsbranden in 1888.

Sweden’s largest coastal delta is formed at the mouth of the 430 kilometer Indalsalven River where it flows into the Gulf of Bothnia. (The Indalsalven River has 26 power plants located along its 166-mile stretch.) The airport is located in the middle of the delta.  The 322 kilometer long Ljungan River empties into the Gulf of Bothnia just south of Sundsvall.

There is a ferry from Umea, Sweden to Vaasa, Finland (population 67,495) that is operated by Wasaline.  The ferry is called the M/S Wasa Express.  The ferry has the capacity to transport 850 passengers and there are two large car decks.  The ferry is owned by the cities of Umea and Vaasa.  During the peak season the ferry makes eight crossing per week.  The ferry’s route across the Kvarken Archipelago takes 4 hours 30 minutes.

(Source: sundsvalltown.se.)

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SUNDSVALL, SWEDEN

(PHOTO CREDIT: HENRIK SENDELBACH)

VIDEO (1:08) OF SUNDSVALL — SUBTITLES IN SWEDISH

(VIDEO CREDIT: SUNDSVALL KOMMUN)

TIMRA, SWEDEN

Timra (10,497) is the seat of Timra Municipality.  Indalsalven, one of Sweden’s largest rivers meets the Gulf of Botnia in Timra.  A total of 26 hydropower plants are located along the course of the 430 km long river.  Timra is located 13 km north of Sundsvall.  A 3o-meter high sculpture known as “the Y” was constructed in 1995 at Midlanda Airport (Midlanda Flygplats AB) in Timra by Swedish artist Bengt Karl Erik Lindstrom (1925-2008).  Lindstrom studied under Swedish painter Isaac Grunewald (1889-1946) and French painters Andre Lhot(1885-1962) and Fernand Leger (1881-1955).  Villa Merlo (Merlo Slott), pictured below, is the only castle in Norrland.

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MASSIVE SCULTURE BY BENGT LINDSTROM AT SUNDSVALL TIMRA AIRPORT

(PHOTO CREDIT: SUNDSVALL TIMRA AIRPORT)

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VILLA MERLO (MERLO SLOTT) IS A CASTLE-LIKE BUILDING IN TIMRA THAT WAS BUILT AS A SUMMER RESIDENCE BY WEALTHY TIMBER MAGNATE FREDERICK BUNSOW BETWEEN 1883-1885

(PHOTO CREDIT: NILS JOHAN TJARNLUND)

VIDEO (1:34) OF MERLO SLOTT

(VIDEO CREDIT: DANIEL HELLSTRAND)

ANGE, SWEDEN

Ange (2,874) is the seat of Ange Municipality.  Ange is a railway junction where the northern main line railway (Norra Stambanan) connects with the central main line railway (Mittbanan).  Norra Stambanan is a 268 kilometer (167 mile) long electrified railway between Gavle, Sweden and Ange.  Mittbanan is a railway from Sundsvall to Storlien to the Swedish-Norweigian border, from where it continues to Torndheim, Norway as the Merakerbanen.

Swedish artist Bengt Lindstrom (1925-2008) created a 6.5 meter high Tangen sculpture made of painted concrete in Ange.  It was inaugurated on Sept. 3, 1995 (or 1996) in the presence of the King and Queen of Sweden.  The rock bands Takida, The Grand Opening and Corroded are from Ange.

The town of Borgsjo is located 13 kilometers east of Ange.  (Borgsjo is located in Jamtland County (Jamtland lan), Sweden.  Ostersund (population 112,717) is Jamtland’s only city.)

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RAILWAY TRACKS AT AGNE, SWEDEN

(PHOTO CREDIT: ANGE KOMMUN)

ORNSKOLDSVIK, SWEDEN

Ornskoldsvik the seat of Ornskoldsvik County.  In almost the middle of central Ornskoldsvik is a mountain named “Varvsberget.”  The mount is 150 meters high and from the top there is a nice view of the city.  There is a ski jump on the mountain called “The Paradise Hill.”  Many world famous hockey players began the sport at Ornskoldsvik including Peter Forsberg, Markus Nashlund, Niklas Sundstrom and twins Daniel and Henrik Seldin.  Umea University is located about 110 km northeast of Ornskoldsvik in North Middle Sweden, which is partially located in Norrland and mainly in Svealand.  (North Middle Sweden is comprised of three counties: Dalarna, Gavleborg and Varmland.) Umea University was founded in 1965 has about 20,500 students and about 2,300 faculty members.  Umea University is the largest institution of higher learning in Northern Sweden.

Ornskoldsvik was granted its town charter in 1893.  It is the trade and commerce center of the northern part of the province.  It has many beautifully restored ancient stone buildings and dramatic new architecture.

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WATERFRONT AT ORNSKOLDSVIK

(PHOTO CREDIT: ELITE PLAZA HOTEL)

VIDEO (4:19) ON MODO HOCKEY AT ORNSKOLDVIK, SWEDEN 

(VIDEO CREDIT: SPORTSNET.CA)

 

The sinking of the Swedish warship Vasa

June 25, 2017

In 1628, the 69 meter Swedish warship Vasa sunk on its maiden voyage out of Stockholm harbor.  The sunken ship was located in 1956 and was recovered in 1961. The ship has been displayed at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm since 1990.  Vasa is the world’s only preserved 17th century ship and is Sweden’s biggest archaeological tourist attraction.

VIDEO (2:30): THE SUNKEN WARSHIP FROM THE VASA MUSEUM 

(VIDEO CREDIT: VASA MUSEUM, STOCKHOLM)

Vasa had a width of about 11 meters and a maximum height of about 20 meters — not including masts.  (The ship was more than 50 meters tall from the keel to the top of the main mast.) The hull consisted of three layers and was approximately 40 cm thick. The ship weighed 1,200 tons.

It is concluded that Vasa, which was fitted with 64 cannons weighing 70 tons, was top-heavy.  It capsized and sank after sailing less than one mile.  The ship had more than 100 crewmen aboard along with guests including women and children.   More than 50 persons drowned.  When the ship was recovered about 25 human skeletons were found in the ship.

“Although Vasa was a Swedish warship constructed in Stockholm, it was designed and built by Dutch shipwrights. In the early 17th century, the Dutch rose to prominence as the premier shipbuilders in Europe. The quality of Dutch-built vessels were renowned and Dutch shipwrights were hired to build the merchant fleets and navies throughout Europe.”  Source: Kelby James Rose, The Naval Architecture of Vasa, a 17th Century Swedish Warship at 8 (doctoral dissertation submitted to the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies of Texas A & M University — 2014).

“Despite his pivotal role in the construction of Vasa and eminence as a royal shipbuilder, little is known about Henrik Hybertsson. He was born in the Netherlands . . . [and] in the early 1600s, Hybetsson moved to Sweden where he was commonly referred to as Master Henrik. . . . By the time he entered into the Stockholm shipyard contract, he was likely one of the most experienced shipwrights in Sweden. . . . Hybertsson eventually moved to Stockholm . . . [and] in 1621, Master Henrik joined the contract held by Anton Monier for operation of the Stockholm shipyard. Along with his partner Arendt de Groot, Hybertsson signed a new contract in January of 1625 and that was scheduled to take effect in January 1626.  Hybertsson was likely concerned primarily with organizational and administrative matters of the shipyard and left most practical construction matters to two other shipwrights in his employ, Henrik Jacobsson and Johan Isbrandsson (both Dutch). . . . Master Henrik’s health began to deteriorate in 1625. In the summer of 1626, he handed practical responsibility for the operation of the shipyard to his chief assistant Henrik Jacobsson who would oversee the completion of Vasa. Hybertsson was bedridden by the end of 1626 and died in the late spring of 1627.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 45-46.)

“Although Vasa was the largest naval architecture project of Henrik Hybertsson’s life, this was not the case with Henrik Jacobsson. Following Vasa’s sinking, Jacobsson went on to build at least three more large and successful warships. . . . All three of Jacobsson’s warships had successful careers.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 318.)

In an academic article by, Richard E. Fairley, a faculty member at the Oregon Graduate Institute School of Science and Engineering, Mr. Fairley wrote about Vasa’s sinking:

“Around 4:00 PM on August 10th, 1628 the warship Vasa set sail in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage as the newest ship of the Royal Swedish Navy.  After sailing about 1,300 meters, a light gust of wind caused the Vasa to heel over on its side. Water poured in through the gun portals and the ship sank with a loss of 53 lives. The Vasa lay in shallow waters off Stockholm harbor (at 32 meters depth) and after initial attempts to salvage it failed, was largely forgotten until it was located by Anders Franzen in 1956. In 1961, 333 years after it sank, the Vasa was raised and was so well preserved that it could float after the gun portals were sealed and water and mud were pumped from it.” Source: Richard E. Fairley,  Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons Learned at 1.

Authors Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius described Vasa’s maiden voyage:

“Between three and four in the afternoon of Sunday August 10th, Captain Sofring Hansson gave orders to cast off.  Slowly, the Vasa was towed out from her place by the crane. Her maiden voyage had begun. In calm and lovely weather, with a light south-west wind the Vasa was towed along Skeppsbron. The great lion figure-head, glowing in its colours, gazed grimly over towards the slopes of south Stockholm. Men were all ready at the handspikes round the great capstan to start their circular march to wind up the huge anchor hawser. The march began and as the anchor hawser curled in, the Vasa moved slowly forward. In one of the ship’s boats, a new anchor was already being rowed in for the next round. The road from the palace down to the water outside the heights of Soder is long considering the anchors, manpower and capstan. There were many people out and about in town, vespers were just over and the churches emptying. A large number of Stockholm’s roughly 10,000 people had come out to enjoy this late summer evening and to witness the ship’s departure. . . . Everything on board was secured and made ready to go to sea. All gun tackle was secured and belayed — only one small one pounder, called falkon, lying on deck and with no gun-carriage, was not secured. . . . The stern cable was cast off, the wind not strong, the south cliffs providing lee. With only four sails hoisted, the ship was moving quite slowly with scarcely any steerage-way. Then the wind increased slightly. Water began swirling round the bows and rippling faintly round the sturdy oak hull. The Vasa fired svensk losen (two shots). A fierce gust from the clifftops made the ship heel over, but then she straightened up again. Slowly, the Vasa slipped along the southern shores, the evening sun high above the lake Malaren, its rays giving lustre to the colours and gold of the richly decorated stern, the cliff still providing lee. . . . Beyond what was then the bay at Tegelviken, the wind was suddenly given much freer play and again a gust of wind from inland made the Vasa unexpectedly heeled fiercely over. All at once, she straightened up again, but this fierce careening had caused some uneasiness. The captain shouted through his megaphone that all men should immediately go to their stations, and he gave orders to loosen the topsail sheets. But the wind was not even strong enough to pull the new rope through their well-greased blocks and help was actually needed to ease them through. She heeled over again. The list was even greater this time, and water began rushing in through the open gun-ports. The list increased even further until the Vasa’s railing was in the water. Her moment of destiny had come. Just off Beckholmen, she went to the bottom at full sail, flags and all. . . . No one knows with any certainty how many people were on board. According to available crew recommendations, however, the crew on the Vasa should have consisted of 133 seamen. . . . It is said that old Captain Hans Jonsson was drowned and that Ordnance Master Erik Jonsson and the captain got away after being for a long time under  water in great danger of their lives. No list has ever been found in any of the archives of those who were saved or those who died. At the most, fifty or so people probably died in the disaster. In the excavation after the salvaging, however, only skeletons and parts of skeletons of twenty-five people were found.”

Source: Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: The Royal Ship 18-22 (1972 — reprinted 2002). (Paragraphing omitted.)

Here is another account of Vasa’s sinking:

“On her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628, the Vasa sailed out of port and into Stockholm’s harbor. Les than a mile out, her sails filled with wind, and she fired a salute. A cheer went up from the assembled onlookers. Suddenly, she heeled sharply onto her port side. She righted herself briefly before heeling again. This time, water rushed into her gun ports, and she promptly sank to the bottom of the harbor. Sweden lost 50 lives that day, and the crown lost a fortune. The Vasa’s guns, carvings, and majestic trappings plummeted into 110 feet (33 m) of cold, Baltic water.”

Source: Liz Mechem, Disasters at Sea: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks 44 (2009).

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SINKING OF VASA

(PAINTING CREDIT: NILS STODBERG)

King Gustav II Adolphus of Sweden was in Poland at the time of Vasa’s sinking.  The King demanded that those responsible be punished for “imprudence and negligence.”  After an inquiry, no one was found to be negligent or punished.

Admiral Baron Carl Carlsson Gyllenheim (1574-1650) was a half brother of King Gustav II Adolphus (1594-1632).  Gustav II was the King of Sweden from 1611-1632.

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KING GUSTAV II ADOLPHUS — KING OF SWEDEN FROM 1611-1632

(PAINTING CREDIT: JACOB HOEFNAGEL — NATIONAL PORTRAIT COLLECTION AT GRIPSHOLM CASTLE, STOCKHOLM)

The King may have been partially responsible for Vasa’s sinking.  He insisted that the ship take up her station as the flagship of the Baltic fleet as soon as possible. Captain Hansson, the person with some responsibility for the construction of the ship,  had warned Vice Admiral Flemming that the ship had stability problems.  However, Captain Hansson and Vice Admiral Flemming were apparently too timid to discuss the ship’s structural problems with the King.

“That the Vasa was launched with known stability problems is the result of poor communication, pressure from King Gustav to launch the ship as soon as possible, the fact that the King was in Poland conducting a war campaign, and because no one had any suggestions for making the ship more stable.”  (Source: Fairley article at 5.)

“During his reign, Gustav Adolf invested enormous administrative effort and capital into the growth and improvement of the Swedish military. The king viewed military strength as a primary tool to advance the position of Sweden within the Baltic and as a defensive strategy against potentially hostile neighbors. Gustav Adolph began a campaign of strengthening his navy in the mid-1620s, which included the construction of several large and heavily armed warships.  The first of these was Vasa.”  (Source: Rose dissertation at 15-16.)

Vasa was not the only large ship to sink on its maiden voyage.  The list includes the RMS Titantic (British passenger liner that collided with an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912), the MS Georges Philippar (French ocean liner that caught fire and sank in the Gulf of Aden on May 15, 1932) and the SS John Morgan (World War II liberty ship that collided with a tanker and sank off the coast of Virginia on June 1, 1943).

“The sinking of the Vasa was a major disaster for Sweden. The country was at war with Poland and the ship was needed for the war effort. No expense had been spared. The Vasa was the most expensive project ever undertaken by Sweden and it was a total loss. The ship’s captain survived the sinking and was immediately thrown in jail. On August 11th, the day after the disaster, a preliminary board of inquiry was convened. Incompetence of the captain and crew was ruled out and the captain was set free. A formal hearing was conducted in September 1628. No exact reason for the sinking was determined and no one was blamed.” (Source: Fairley article at 1.)

“Preliminary hearings by state councillors on the accident began at Stockholm Palace the very next day [after Vasa’s sinking], to which the captain, who had only just escaped with his life, and the Master Shipbuilder of Holmen were both summoned. Captain Sofring had been taken into custody at the palace as soon as he had come ashore, but was released a few days later. On September 5th, a major enquiry was held at the  palace by an especially arranged court consisting of seventeen people, of which six were state concillors. The Admiral of the Fleet, Carl Carlsson Gyllenhielm, acted as chairman. . . . The records of this major enquiry are preserved only i a fragmentary copy, but they nevertheless provide certain opportunities to assess the causes of the accident and a reconstruction of the trial. . . . The intention to try to find a scapegoat quickly is very clear. Not least with the knowledge of the severe punishments of the day, it is impossible not to feel pity for those involved in the drama. It is also understandable that the atmosphere must occasionally have been ominously tense.”

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 25-26.  (Paragraphing omitted.)

“During the formal inquiry, several witnesses commented that the Vasa was ‘heavier above than below,’ but no one pursued the questions of how or why the Vasa had become top-heavy.  There was no mention of the weight of the second deck, the guns, the carvings, or other equipment. In those days, most people (including the experts) thought the higher and more impressive a warship, and the more and bigger the guns it carried, the more indestructible it would be.  (Source: Farley article at 4.)

Technical data of Vasa: Total length (including bowsprit) — 69.0 m; greatest width: 11.7 m; Draught: 4.8 m; total height at main mast: 52.5 m; height of sternship: 19.3 m; displacement: 1,210 tons; area of sail: 1,275 sq m; number of sails: 10; guns: 64, of which 48 24-pounders, eight 3-pounders and six mortars; crew: 145 men, 300 soldiers.

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 31.

In 2011, a documentary was released on Vasa by Swedish director and screenwriter Anders Wahlgren.  The film is titled Vasa 1628 — The People. The Ship. The Era.  Books written about the Vasa include Carl Olof Cederlund, Vasa I, The Archaeology of a Swedish Warship of 1628 (F. Hocker ed. 2006); Fred Hocker, Vasa: A Swedish Warship (2011); Larso-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: the Royal Ship (1998); Hans Soop, The Power and the Glory: The Sculptures of the Warshipo Wasa (1986); Anders Franzen, The Warship Vasa: Deep Diving and Marine Archaeology in Stockholm (1974) and Lars-Ake Kvarning and Bengt Ohrelius, The Vasa: The Royal Warship (1972).

On May 31, 1564, the Swedish warship Mars sank during a naval battle with a Danish force allied with soldiers from Germany off the coast of Oland, a Swedish island.  At the time, Mars was the largest and fiercest warship in the world.  In 2011, a group of divers located the sunken ship in 246 feet (75 meters) of water.

“During the day of sailing ships, Dalaro was Stockholm’s outer harbour. . . . But ships have been lost even in the sheltered harbour of Dalaro. In the summer of 1676, the man-of-war Riksapplet [Apple of the Realm] was wrecked in a south-westerly storm on a small skerry and sank at sixteen metres in depth.  The little islet is today called Appelskar [Apple Skerry].  The Riksapplet had a crew of 500 men and carried 86 guns.  Yet another ship was lost in Dalaro harbour.  The same year as the Riksapplet sank, the Grone Jagaren [the Green Hunter] blew up and sank to the depth of thirty metres. . . . Inside Nybroviken in Stockholm lies the 44-gun ship Vastervik.  She caught fire and sank there during the 1676 year of misfortune, when Sweden also lost the sea battle against the Danish-Dutch fleet at Oland. In dramatic circumstances, the great ship Kronan [the Crown] was lost with 850 men on board.”

Source: Book by Kvarning and Ohrelius at 12-13. (Paragraphing omitted.)

TIMELINE OF THE WARSHIP VASA

Winter 1624-1625: King Gustav II Adolf signs a contract with Dutch master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson and his business partner, Arendt de Groote, to build four ship including Vasa.

1626: Hybertsson becomes ill and can no longer supervise Vasa’s construction. Hybertsson’s assistant, Hein Jakobsson, takes over for Hybertsson.

1627: Vasa is launched during the spring at Stockholm.  Hundreds of craftsmen work through the summer to finish the hull and rigging.

Summer 1628: Captain Sofring Hansson calls Vice Admiral Klas Flemming to report that he is worried about the stability of the ship.  Admiral Flemming is afraid that the ship might sink at tbe quay.  Under pressure from the King, Admiral Flemming orders Captain Hansson to carry on.

August 10, 1628: On Vasa’s maiden voyage the ship sinks within sight of the shipyard after water gushes in through the open gun ports.  Thousands of Stockholm residents witness the scene together with several foreign ambassadors.

Autumn 1628: An inquest is conducted.  It is concluded that the ship did not have enough hull to carry the heavy upper works.  Hybertsson is blamed for the ship’s design.  He cannot defend himself because he died the year before.

1663-1665: Repeated efforts to raise the ship all fail.  A team of divers led by Albrecht von Treileben and Andreas Peckell succeed in salvaging most of Vasa’s cannons.  The divers use a recently perfected invention, the diving bell.

1920: Brothers Simon and Leonard Olschanski apply for a permit to salvage ships sunk in Stockholm harbor.  They plan to blow up the wrecks and to sell black oak, waterlogged wood, which is popular for use in Art Deco furniture.  Their application is dened.

August 1956: Anders Franzen’s crew drags Stockholm harbor.  While dragging, an obstruction is found on the bottom in front of the island of Beckholmen.

September 1956: Per Edvin Falting, the Navy’s chief salvage diver, discovers Vasa standing upright on the bottom of the harbor.

September 1958: One of Vasa’s cannons is brought up from the deep.  Per Edvin Falting becomes a media hero.

August 1959: Vasa is lifted and moved in 18 stages.  By September the ship lies at a depth of 17 meters by the island of Kastellholmen.  Divers will spend another 1.5 years preparing the ship for the final lift.

April 24, 1961: Vasa is lifted to the surface.  The event makes headlines throughout the world.

February 16, 1962: Vasa is displayed to the general public at the newly-constructed Wasa Shipyard.  During 1962 nearly 440,000 people buy a ticket to see the ship and its contents.

April 1962: The operation begins to reconstruct and preserve Vasa. The ship is sprayed with polyethylene glycol PEG to prevent the ship from being destroyed. This treatment continues until 1979.

1979-1989: The ship continues to dry.  The drying process will go on for decades until the ship completely stabilizes.

1989: The graves of 11 people who died when Vasa sank are opened after having been buried at the National Naval Cemetery in 1963.  Research is conducted on the remains.  Ten of these people become part of a special exhibit at Vasa Museum in 2004.

June 15, 1990: A museum is officially opened to display Vasa.  The museum was designed by Swedish architects Hidemark Mansson Arkitekkontor AB.

Summer 2000: It is feared that Vasa is in danger of dissolving away due to high humidity combining with sulphur in the wood to produce destructive acids.  A new, state-of-the-art climate controlled facility becomes on line in 2004.

2011: Vasa celebrates the 50th anniversary of its recovery from the depths.  A records 1.2 million people visit the museum.

(Timeline credit: Vasa Museum)

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“THE SINKING OF THE VASA”

(PAINTING CREDIT: ANDREW HOWAT)

 

 

 

 

 

Canadian sniper sets new long shot record

June 23, 2017

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THE McMILLAN TAC-50 SNIPER RIFLE — MANUFACTURED IN PHOENIX BY McMILLAN BROTHERS RIFLE COMPANY 

(PHOTO CREDIT: GUNS.COM)

During the last month, a Canadian sniper set a new record for a long shot kill.

The record setting shot was reported in the the Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail. 

Source: Derek Hawkins, How Canada’s small military produced deadly, record-breaking snipers (June 23, 2017).

The unidentified sniper killed an Islamic State fighter from 3,450 meters — more than two miles away.  The bullet took about 10 seconds to reach its target.

The unnamed sniper serves as a gun specialist in Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 operation in Iraq.  The long shot was made using a United States manufactured McMillan Tac-50 rifle.  The .50 caliber weapon is referred to as the C15 Long Range Sniper Weapon (LRSW) by the Canadian armed forces.  It weighs about 26 pounds and has a maximum effective range of about 4,000 yards.

All Tac-50 free-floating barrels are custom  made by Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels, Inc., a family business located in Plains, Montana.  Lilja barrels are made from rifle barrel quality, 416-type stainless and 4140-type chrome-molly steels manufactured in the United States. Stainless steel barrels are guaranteed to be uniform dimensionally to .0001 inch.

VIDEO  DEMONSTRATING THE McMILLAN TAC-50 SNIPER RIFLE — “BIG MAC”

British sniper Craig Harrison previously held the world long shot record in 2009 when he killed two Taliban insurgents from a range of 2,475 meters.

Thomas Gibbons-Neff, a reporter for The Washington Post, described the feat:

“For the soldier to hit his target 3,540 meters (3,871 yards) he would need to account for every atmospheric factor available. Wind speed, temperature, barometric pressure, the bullets yaw and the rotation of the earth would all need to be considered before pulling the trigger.”

Source: Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Canadian Special Operations sniper hit target from more than 2 miles away, military says (June 22, 2017).

Canadians now account for three of the top five longest recorded sniper kills.  In 2002, Canadian Master Cpl. Arron Perry shot and killed an Afghan insurgent from 2,310 meters.  Weeks later, during the same operation, Canadian Cpl. Rob Furlong killed an insurgent at 2,430  meters.

Evan McAllister, a former Marine sergeant who served multiple deployments as a sniper in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that some form of assistance other than a conventional rifle scope would be needed to successfully shoot at such a distance.

“While the shot was possible with the outstanding ballistic properties of a match .50 projectile, a conventional rifle scope would make seeing the target at that range almost impossible, and it may be likely that the sniper team had some form of assistance either from an extremely advanced rifle scope or an overhead drone,” McAllister said. “There is also a chance that the sniper couldn’t exactly see the targets or the impacts, but a spotter with an advanced optical device was able to verbally walk the sniper into the target and correct his aim.”

Source: Goodman-Neff article in The Washington Post.

Another Canadian newspaper, The Toronto Sun, reported:

“A Canadian special forces sniper has obliterated the record for the longest confirmed kill in military history. The shot — believed to be taken from the top of an apartment building in northern Iraq — hit its target a staggering 3.54 km away. It blew away the previous record by nearly a kilometre — and the ISIS fighter.”

Source: Brad Hunter, Canadian sniper blows away record for farthest kill, The Toronto Sun (June 22, 2017).  Hunter reported: “Coalition forces often prefer using snipers instead of aerial bombing because the triggermen are more accurate and less likely to hit civilians.”

Hunter’s article listed the top five longest sniper kills: (1) CANADA 2017: 3,540 meters, (2) GREAT BRITAIN 2009: 2,475 meters, (3) CANADA 2002: 2,430 meters, (4) CANADA 2002: 2,310 meters, and (5) UNITED STATES 2004: 2,300 meters.

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A CANADIAN SNIPER

(PHOTO CREDIT: LOU PENNEY / DND FROM THE TORONTO SUN)

 

Swedish kings from Eric the Victorious to King Carl XVI Gustaf and the 1792 assassination of King Gustav III

June 4, 2017

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RIDDARHOLMEN — WHERE MANY SWEDISH KINGS ARE BURIED

(Photo Credit: Daniel Jonason)

Swedish monarchs date back about 1,000 years under 11 dynasties.  The current dynasty, the House of Bernadotte, has ruled the longest.

Sweden’s current king, King Carl XVI Gustaf, is the seventh monarch of the House of Bernadotte.  He became the King in 1973, at age 23, when his father King Gustaf Adolph died.  King Carl XVI Gustaf is married to Queen Silvia Sommerlath, a German-Brazilian who was born in Germany.  The King and Queen live at Drottningholm Palace, which is just outside Stockholm.

The King of Sweden is the head of state but, under Sweden’s 1974 constitution, has no political affinity and no formal powers.  The King’s duties are mainly of a ceremonial and representative nature.

Some of the most famous Swedish monarchs were Gustav II Adolf (1622-1632), Kristina (1632-1654) and Gustav III (1771-1792).  The Swedish government set forth short biographies on these three monarchs:

GUSTAV II ADOLPHUS (GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS THE GREAT) — The Riksdag elected Gustav Adolphus king in 1523. By intervening in the Thirty Years’ War, Gustav II Adolph came to assume great political importance, and internationally is the best known of Sweden’s kings. Under his rule, Sweden became a leading military power. Gustav II Adolphus was killed in 1632 at the Battle of Lutzen, which was fought during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).

Battle in the Thirty Years’ War.  “The Protestant army, led by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, had advanced into southern Germany with 20,000 men.  In September 1632, [General Albrecht von ] Wallenstein invaded Saxony with 30,000 men, threatening Gustavus’s lines of communication. Gustavus was forced to respond, marching north before entrenching to wait for reinforcements. At this point, Wallenstein split off a third of his army. Hearing this, Gustavus rushed to attack. The two armies made contact on the evening of 15 November, and spent the night drawn up in battle formation, with the Imperial army defending a ditched road. On the morning of the 16th, a mist delayed the start of the battle, and Gustavus was not able to attack until 11.00 am. Gustavus led a cavalry charge, which forced the Imperial musketeers from the ditch, and pushed the Imperial cavalry back.  Wallenstein set fire to the town of Lutzen, and the smoke from the town temporarily blinded the Swedish center, which was then surprised by an Imperial cavalry charge. The line held, and was reinforced by Gustavus, who led his cavalry back to aid his center.  At this point, the Protestant cause suffered a serious blow — Gustavus himself was killed during the cavalry fight that followed.  Command was taken over by Bernard of Saxe-Weimar.  At this point, the force that Wallenstein had detached earlier in the campaign, and had urgently recalled on the 15th, arrived on the battle field, and temporarily forced the Swedish army back across the ditched road. Despite this temporary setback, Bernard of Saxe-Weimar was able to force the Imperial troops to retreat into Lutzen, abandoning their artillery and baggage, before being forced to fall back on Halle  The Imperial army lost 12,000 men, while the Swedes lost 10,000 men as well . . . .”  Source: The Thirty Years War by C.V. Wedgewood (1938).

The phrase “Lutzendimma” (Lutzen fog) is still used in the Swedish language to describe thick fog.

(King Gustavus Adolphus died at age 37.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church on the island of Riddarholmen, close to the Royal Palace in Stockholm.)

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THE BATTLE OF LUTZEN — DEPICTING THE DEATH OF KING GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS

(PAINTING CREDIT: CARL WAHLBOM)

KRISTINA — Excepting the short caretaker government of Queen Ulrika Eleonora 1719-20, Kristina is the only female monarch of the modern Swedish kingdom. She succeeded Gustav II Adolf in 1632, just before her sixth birthday, and ruled for 22 years. Kristina abdicated in 1654, converting to Catholicism and settling in Rome, and was succeeded by her cousin, Karl Gustav. When he died in 1660, she traveled to Sweden in the hope of reclaiming the throne. Her claim was rejected by parliament, however, and Kristina returned to Rome.  (She died at age 62.  She is buried at St. Peter’s Basilica at Vatican City.)

GUSTAV III — Usually called the Theatre King, Gustav III was a keen patron of the arts, and founded the first opera in Stockholm in 1782, the Swedish Academy and the Royal Academy of Music. His reign was not popular with the high nobility, however, and opposition culminated in a conspiracy in 1792, when he was shot at a masked ball held at the opera. He died shortly thereafter.  (He died at age 46.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

Gustav III legalized Catholic and Jewish presence in Sweden.  In 1782, Gustav III was the first formally neutral head of state in the world to recognize the United States during its war for independence from Great Britain.  It was said that Gustav III personally profited from the transatlantic slave trade.  From 1789-90, Gustav III conducted a war with Russia known as the Russo-Swedish War of 1788-1790.  The war involved the greatest naval victory ever achieved by the Swedish Navy.  Russia lost one-third of its fleet and 7,000 men.

Among those involved in Gustav III’s assassination — about midnight of March 17, 1792 — were Jacob Johan Anckarstrom,  Adolph Ribbing, Claes Fredrik Horn, Carl Pontus Lilliehorn and Carl Fredrik Pechlin.  Upon entering the masked ball, Gustav III was surrounded by Anckarstrom and his co-conspirators.  The conspirators were all wearing black masks and accosted him him French with the words: “Good day, fine masked man.” Anckarstrom used a pistol to shoot Gustav III in the left side of his back.  The wound became infected and Gustav III died on March 29, 1792.  His final words were: “A few moments of rest would do me good.” Anckarstrom was arrested and immediately confessed.  Horn and Ribbing were also arrested and confessed.  On April 27, 1792, Anckarstrom was executed by beheading. His right hand was cut off before he was executed. Anckarstrom’s family changed their name to Lowenstrom. The Lowenstrom family donated funds for a hospital as a gift of appeasement. This resulted in Lowenstrom Hospital — Lowenstromska Lasarettet — in Upplands Vasby north of Stockholm. Ribbing was sentenced to death but was pardoned and exiled to France. Pechlin died four years later in prison.  Horn died in 1823 in Copenhagen. Lilliehorn was exiled to Germany where he assumed the name of Berg von Bergheim. The story of the assassination was the basis of Giuseppe Verdi’s 1891 opera “Un ballo  in maschera,” translated into English as “A Masked Ball.”  Author/playwright August Strindberg wrote a play about Gustav III’s assassination.  It was adapted for Swedish TV in the 1970s.

French origins of the Royal Family — A publication by the Swedish government notes that the Royal Family has French origins. The publication states:

“Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was the first Bernadotte on the Swedish throne. Born in France in 1763, he was named heir to the Swedish throne in 1810. His name as king was King Karl XIV Johan. The Swedish Royal Family is related to all the reigning royal courts of Europe.”

Eric the Victorious (modern Swedish: Erik Segersall) was the first Swedish king about whom anything definite is known.  He is from the “House of Munso” and is said to be the son of Bjorn Eriksson.  He ruled from 970-995.  He is sometimes referred to as King Eric V or VI based upon counting backwards from King Eric XIV (1560-68).  He acquired the name “Victorious” because he defeated an invasion from the south in the Battle of Fyrisvellir located close to Uppsala.  In all probability he founded the town of Sigtuna, which still exists and where the first Swedish coins were stamped for his son and successor, Olof Skotkonung.  (Source: http://www.revolvy.com — topic: Eric the Victorious.)

ERIC.THE.VICTORIOUS

ERIC THE VICTORIOUS (BIRTH: UNKNOWN; DEATH: 995)

BURIAL: GAMLA UPPSALA KUNGSHOGAR (ROYAL TUMULI), UPPSALA, SWEDEN

Swedish monarchs since the death of Gustav II Adolphus at the Battle of Lutzen:

QUEEN KRISTINA — She is discussed above.

KING CHARLES X GUSTAV (KARL X GUSTAV) — King from June 6, 1654 to his death on Feb. 13, 1660 at Gothenburg.  He was born at Nykoping Castle.  (He died at age 37. He is buried at Ridddarholmen Church.)

KING CHARLES XI (KARL XI) — King from Feb. 13, 1660 to his death on April 5, 1697 at Tre Kronor Castle at Stockholm, which burned down in 1697. (The site where Stockholm Palace is today.)  (He died at age 41.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING CHARLES XII (KARL XII) — King from April 5, 1697 to his death on Nov. 30, 1718 at Fredrikshald, Norway.  (He died at age 36.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

QUEEN ELEANOR (ULRIKA ELONORA) — Queen from Dec. 5, 1718 to her death on Feb. 29, 1720 at Stockholm.  (She died at age 53.  She is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING FREDERICK (FREDRIK i av HESSEN) — King from March 24, 1720 to his death on March 25, 1751 at Stockholm.  (He died at age 74.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING ADOLF FREDERICK (ADOLF FREDRIK) — King from March 25, 1751 to his death at Stockholm Palace on Feb. 12, 1771.  (He died at age 60.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING GUSTAV III — He is discussed above.

KING GUSTAV IV ADOLPH — King from March 29, 1792 until May 10, 1809.  He was forced to abdicate in 1809 and replaced by his brother, Charles, who acceded to the throne. Gustav IV Adolph died on Feb. 7 1837 at St. Gallen, Switzerland. (He died at age 58. He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING CHARLES XIII (KARL XIII) — King from June 6, 1809 to his death on Feb. 5, 1818 at Stockholm.  He was known as “the Union King.”  He acceded to the throne after his brother abdicated. He became the King of Norway in 1814 by the union between Sweden and Norway.  (He died at age 69. He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING CHARLES XIV JOHAN (KARL XIV JOHAN) — King from Feb. 5, 1818 to his death on March 8, 1844 at Stockholm Palace.  Birth name of Jean-Baptiste d’Radzilow.  He was known of “the Popular Monarch” and “the Elector King.”  (He died at at age 81. He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING OSCAR I — King from March 8, 1844 to his death on July 8, 1867 at Stockholm Palace.  Birth name of Joseph Francois Oscar d’Radzilow.  He was known as “the Warrior King.”  (He died at age 60.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING CHARLES XV — King from July 8, 1876 to his death on Sept. 18, 1872 at Malmo. Birth name of Carl Ludvig Eugen.  He was known as “the Unpopular King.”  (He died at age 46. He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING OSCAR II — King from Sept. 18, 1872 to his death on Dec. 8, 1907 at Stockholm.  Birth name of Oscar Fredrik.  (He died at age 78.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING GUSTAV V — King from Dec. 8, 1907 to his death on Oct. 29, 1950 at Drottningholm Palace.  Birth name of Oscar Gustaf Adolph.  (He died at age 92.  He is buried at Riddarholmen Church.)

KING GUSTAV VI ADOLF — King from Oct. 29, 1950 to his death on Sept. 15, 1973 at Helsingborg. Birth name of Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf.  (He died at age 90. He is buried at the Royal Burial Ground (Kungliga begravningsplatsen) on the small island of Karlsborg in the bay of Brunnsviken, which is part of Haga Park in Solna, Sweden.)

KING CARL XVI GUSTAF — Sweden’s current king.  He became the King on Sept. 15, 1973. His birth name is Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus.  He was born at Haga Palace. He is the son of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Vasterbotten (1906 – 1947) and Princess Sibylla of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1908 – 1972).  Prince Gustaf Adolf was killed in an airplane crash at Kastrup Airport at Copenhagen.  He was the heir to the Swedish throne but did not live to ascend to the throne.

KING.GUSTAV.III.AND.BROTHERS.NO.2

KING GUSTAV III AND HIS BROTHERS — OIL ON CANVAS BY ALEXANDER ROSLIN (1771)

THE KING IS ON THE LEFT WITH PRINCE FREDERICK ADOLF AND PRINCE CHARLES, LATER KING CHARLES XIII

(CREDIT: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SWEDEN)

Wings of Eagles is a surprise winner at Epsom

June 3, 2017

WINGS.OF.EAGLES.2

WINGS OF EAGLES WINS THE INVESTEC EPSOM DERBY BY THREE QUARTERS OF A LENGTH OVER CLIFFS OF MOHER (Photo Credit: Irish Examiner.)

Wings of Eagles (by Pour Moi) was a surprise winner of the Investec Epsom Derby (also known as the English Derby) on June 3, 2017 at Epsom Downs in England.  The Aidan O’Brien trained horse, ridden by Padraig Beggy, was second-to-last before going on to win the race by three-quarters of a length over Cliffs Of Moher (by Galileo), trained by O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, a horse with 5 to 1 odds.  Cracksman (by Frankel), trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori, the 7-2 favorite, came in third.  Emiment (by Frankel), trained by Martyn Meade and ridden by Jim Crowley, was fourth.

The odds of Wings of Eagles winning was 40 to 1.  Wings of Eagles was the longest priced Derby winner since 1974, when Snow Knight won the race at 50 to 1 odds.

Wings of Eagles paid $113.20 to win, Cliffs Of Moher paid $5.20 to place and Cracksman paid $3.60 to show.  The $2 exacta paid $1,170.20 and the $2 trifecta paid $8,460.60.

It was O’Brien’s sixth win in at the Epsom Derby.  O’Brien trained six of the 18 horses in the 238th running of the classic horse race.  (O’Brien trained horses have won the race four times in the past six years.) The Telegraph called this year’s race “the richest race ever run in Britain.”  (Epsom Derby 2017 result: rank outsider Wings of Eagles pulls off shock victory — June 3, 2017.)  Wings of Eagles earned 931,000 British pounds ($1.2 million).

Wings of Eagles, a three-year-old colt, is the son of Pour Moi, a horse that won the 2011 Epsom Derby.

It was the first English Derby win for jockey Padraig Beggy, 31, who joined O’Brien in January 2015.  Beggy previously raced in Australia until he received a 15-month drug ban at the end of 2014.  (He tested positive for cocaine.)

“I got into a bit of trouble in Australia, a bad mistake and something that I’ve put behind me,” Beggy said.  “I was knocked down then, I had to pick myself up and I’ve come back out fighting and today I think I’ve proved that.”

Beggy said that he did not know that he would be riding Wings of Eagles until the Thursday before the Saturday race.

The Guardian capsulized Beggy’s jockey career:

“Beggy started in Ireland in 2003, rode for eight seasons with some level of success but never achieved more than 22 winners in a year in a country that has never been short of riding talent.  He came to Britain in 2011, basing himself with John Quinn one year and David Evans the next, adding another eights wins before deciding to try his luck in Australia.” (Derby -winning rider Padraig Beggy: “I thought big winners had gone by me” — June 3, 2017.)

“I traveled the whole way round the wold to get on a horse like this but it didn’t happen until I came back home,” Beggy said.

“Paddy Beggy is a brilliant rider,” O’Brien said. “He’s strong, he’s got a great mind and is tactically very aware. . . . An absolutely world class rider.”

O’Brien’s previous winning horses were Australia (2014), World (2013), Camelot (2012), Chaparral (2002) and Galileo (2001).

Douglas McArthur, trained by O’Brien and ridden by Colm O’Donoghue, led for much of the race before Cracksman took the lead and appeared to be on the way to victory.

Wings of Eagles was 16th of 18 horses with three furlongs to go and made up five lengths during the final furlong.  Wings of Eagles managed to catch Cliffs Of Moher with 50 yards to go to the finish.

“Still my best furlong was the last furlong and that is the one that counts,” Beggy said.

Queen Elizabeth attended the race.  Sophie Hamilton wrote in the Hello Magazine: “The Queen looked to be having a wonderful time at the races on Saturday as she attended the annual Epsom Derby.  Dressed in a bright yellow coat, a floral patterned dress and a yellow hat with pretty flower detail, the monarch looked radiant in her summery ensemble.  She teamed her cheerful outfit with pearl earrings and a matching pearl necklace, completing her look perfectly.”  (The Queen enjoys a day in the sunshine at the Epsom Derby! — June 3, 2017.)  Princess Alexandra also attended the event in the Queen’s party.

AIDAN.OBRIEN.TOP.HAT

AIDAN O’BRIEN — THE WINNING TRAINER

(PHOTO CREDIT: AIDAN OBRIEN FANSITE)

Eight Swedes in the Stanley Cup finals

May 29, 2017

CARL.HEGELIN

CARL HEGELIN OF SODERTALJE, SWEDEN — PITTSBURGH PENGUINS STAR

(PHOTO CREDIT: BRUCE BENNETT)

Eight Swedes are on NHL teams playing in the finals of the 2017 Stanley Cup.

There are five Swedes on the Nashville Predators. They are Filip Forsberg of Ostervala, Calle Jarnkrok of Gavle, Pontus Aberg of Stockholm, Viktor Arvidsson of Skelleftea and Mattias Ekholm of Borlange.

There are three Swedes on the Pittsburgh Penguins. They are Oskar Sundqvist of Boden, Carl Hagelin of Sodertalje and Patric Hornqvist of Sollentuna.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Filip Forsberg — Forsberg, 22, is a 6-1, 186 pound center. This is in his fourth year in the NHL. He was drafted in the first round in 2012. He had 31 goals and 27 assists during the regular season. He has had eight goals and seven assists during the playoffs.  Forsberg’s 2017-18 salary will be $6.0 million.  Hockey news says of Forsberg: “Has plenty of offensive acumen, a good release and quick shot. Also displays plenty of two-way ability, speed, sound defensive instincts and the ability to make a major impact on both special teams.”

Calle Jarnkrok — Jarnkrok, 25, is a 5-11, 186 pound center. This is in his third year in the NHL. He was drafted in the second round in 2010. He had one goal and one assist during the regular season. He has had one goal and three assists during the playoffs.  Jarnkrok’s 2017-18 salary will be $2.0 million.  Hockey News says of Jarnkrok: “Has great playmaking skills and plenty of hockey sense.  Sees the ice very well and is quite adept whenever he has the puck on his stick. Can play all three forward positions and in any game situation.”

Pontus Aberg — Aberg, 23, is a 5-11, 189 pound left wing. This is in his first year in the NHL. He was drafted in the second round in 2012. He spent most of this season with Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League. He was called up before the Stanley Cup playoffs. He had one goal and one assist during the regular season. He has had one goal and three assists during the playoffs.  Hockey News says about Aberg: “Is a slick winger with great speed, plenty of offensive acumen and the versatility to play on either side of center.  Has pretty good hockey sense.”

Viktor Arvidsson — Arvidsson, 24, is a 5-9, 172 pound right wing. This is in his third year in the NHL. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2014. He had 31 goals and 30 assists the regular season. He has had three goals and nine assists during the playoffs.  Hockey News says about Arvidsson: “Is a great skater with plenty of offensive ability and a very sound work rate. Shoots the puck with aplomb and possesses a lot of creativity when he has the puck.”

Mattias Ekholm — Ekholm, 27, is a 6-4, 204 pound defenseman. This is in his fifth year in the NHL. (Not counter the two games he played for the Predators during the 2011-12 season.) He was drafted in the fourth round in 2009. He had three goals and 20 assists during the regular season. He has had eight assists during the playoffs.  Ekholm’s 2017-18 salary will be $3.75 million.  Hockey News says about Ekholm: “Has a huge frame (6-4, 215 pounds), puck-moving ability and a big shot from the point. Usually keeps his game very simple and minimizes mistakes. Owns all-round acumen.”

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Oskar Sundqvist — Sundqvist, 23, is a 6-3, 209 pound center. This is his second year in the NHL. (He played 18 games for the Penguins during the 2015-16 seasons.) He was drafted in the 3rd round during 2012.  Hockey News says about Sundqvist: “Has great size and he likes to use it.  Excels playing a physical brand of hockey, and he is even quite the agitator. Is versatile up front (he can play all three forward positions) and displays plenty of two-way upside.”

Carl Hegelin — Hagelin, 28, is a 5-11, 186 pound left wing. This is his fifth year in the NHL. (He has also played for the New York Rangers and the Anaheim Ducks.) He was drafted in the 6th round in 2007. He had six goals and 16 assists during the regular season. He has had one goal during the playoffs.  Hegelin’s 2017-18 salary will be $4.0 million.  Hockey News says of Hagelin: “Owns tremendous speed, especially on the outside of defenders. Also has excellent defensive instincts, as well as streaky offensive ability. Can be an impactful forward on the penalty kill.”

Patric Hornqvist — Hornqvist, 30, is a 5-11, 186 pound right wing. This is his eighth year in the NHL. (He has also played for the Nashville Predators.) He was drafted in the 7th round in 2005. He had 21 goals and 23 assists during the regular season. He has had four goals and three assists during the playoffs.  Hornqvist’s 2017-18 salary will be $4.25 million.  Hockey News says of Hornqvist: “Is capable of producing offense from right in front of the net, which can take goaltenders off their game. Can take loads of punishment to score and is not bad in his own end.  Scores garbage goals.”

During the regular season, Nashville was 41-29 and Pittsburgh was 50-21.

VIKTOR.ARVIDSSON

VIKTOR ARVIDSSON OF THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(PHOTO CREDIT: MICHAEL TURESKI)

The women of Ingemar Johansson

April 9, 2017

BIRGIT.LUNDGREN

INGEMAR JOHANSSON AND BIRGIT LUNDGREN

LIFE MAGAZINE (JULY 26, 1959)

INGEMAR.AND.BIRGIT

INGEMAR JOHANSSON AND BIRGIT LUNDGREN ON A CRUISE

Jens Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson of Goteborg, Sweden (Sept. 22, 1932 at Gothenburg, Sweden – Jan. 30, 2009 at Kungsbacka, Sweden) held the world heavyweight boxing title from 1959 to 1960.  Ingemar won 26 of his 28 professional bouts with 17 wins by knockout.  His only two losses were to Floyd Patterson of the United States. (Ingemar, as a 4-1 underdog, beat Patterson on June 26, 1959 at Yankee Stadium in New York to win the heavyweight title.  He lost his two rematches to Patterson on June 20, 1960 at the Polo Grounds in New York and of March 13, 1961 at Miami Beach, Florida.)  Ingemar was also called the “Hammer of Thor.”

Ingemar’s father, Jens August Johansson, was born on Feb. 17, 1907 at Lommeland Ost Mork, Sweden.  Ingemar’s mother, Ebba Matilda Amalia Karlsson, was born on Sept. 7, 1911 at Morlanda Skafto Grundsund, Sweden.

An outstanding biography of Ingemar was published in 2016 by Ken Brooks titled Ingemar Johansson: Swedish Heavyweight Boxing Champion. (Hereafter “Brooks.”)  This article draws heavily from Mr. Brooks’ scholarship.  Brooks stated in the introduction to his book:

“There are full-length biographies of nearly every heavyweight champion, including four books on the life of Floyd Patterson, the Ali to Johansson’s Frazier. Yet there exists not a single prior full-length book on Ingemar, a boxer whose accomplishments have been sadly over-looked. Perhaps this is understandable so, for less than a year after Johansson’s final fight — against Brian London in April 1963 — the world had a new heavyweight champion in Muhammad Ali, a man whose prodigious talent and personal magnetism proceeded to overshadow everyone in his wake.” (Brooks at 3.)

When Ingemar was 13 he weighed 64 kilos (141 lb.) and before he was 16 he was boxing at heavyweight.  Source: Ingemar Johansson, Seconds Out of the Ring 28 (1959 — translated 1960).  Ingemar began boxing at Redbergslid’s Boxing Club (RBC) in Gothenburg, Sweden.  Id. at 31. In 1946, before Ingemar had ever had a fight, he had shown such promising talent that he was chosen for the Swedish Boxing Association’s training camp in Valsjobaden, where he was the youngest, heaviest and swiftest in the training activities.  Id.   In 1948, when Ingemar was 14, he was chosen to spar with Gunnar Barlund at RBC, and when he was 15, he was training with Swedish boxing promoter Edwin Ahlqvist’s professional boxers at Hindas, Sweden.  Id.

Ingemar finished school before he was 15 and began worked as a stone-setter’s hand.  Id. at 33.  Ingemar also “worked in the harbour, portered banana bunches, swept snow, thumped down stone sets, and one winter I worked for Edwin Ahlqvist’s company.”  Id. 

“Between February 1948 and August 1952 there lay a series of 71 amateur bouts, a sundry train of events and journeys.  I won 61 times, 32 fights before the distance, lost nine on points and was disqualified once.”  Id. at 34.  By the time Ingemar was 16 he was being referred to as “Sweden’s next really great heavyweight.”  Id. at 36.

Ingemar wanted to turn professional before the 1952 Olympic games at Helsinki, Finland.  But Ingemar’s manager, Edwin Ahlqvist, wanted Ingemar to first compete in the Olympics.  “I wasn’t in the mood for the journey to Helsinki,” Ingemar wrote.  “My mind was on professional boxing.  I wanted to work in the trade.  Amateur boxing didn’t interest me anymore.”  Id. at 57.

1952 Olympics at Helsinki — At the Olympics, Ingemar advanced to the finals by winning three bouts on points over three Finns: Horymir Netuka, Tomo Krizmanic and Iikka Koski.  In the finals he faced Ed Sanders of the United States.

“The gong rang and Sanders came at me with a weaving stance and a light, swaying guard. I got out of the way.  He came after me — without trying to attack. Sanders was a counter-boxer and had won all his bouts in the tournament with counter-punches against opponents he had waited for. He took aim time and again against my attack, but I stood back.  I stood right up in front of him.  Nothing prevented him making an attack himself. Sanders made a couple of clumsy tries — more in bluff than in earnest. Nothing came of them. At the end of the round we were both warned by the French referee, Roger Vaisberg, for failing to show fight. It was a just reprimand.  The crowd had been whistling from the middle of the round. In the interval I talked with [xxx] Suvio, who said that I should continue to keep out of the way. Sanders and I stood up in front of each other for the whole round without moving a glove.  He didn’t try to attack and nor did I.  The hall screamed. The referee stopped the fight in  the third minute but only warned me for failing to show fight. Sanders was just as passive and didn’t try to attack. But Vaisberg repeated his warning solely to me. The round ended without a blow attempted by either side.  The American had expected that i would give him a free chance to counter-box and I had refused. I had neither the strength nor the training to attack for three, or even two rounds.  If he wanted to try, he was free to do so. I intended to take my chance in the third round. In the interval Vaisberg conferred with the competition’s management, then went to Sanders’ corner, lifted up his hand and I was disqualified for failing to show fight.  I was ushered from the ring between policemen.  They refused me my silver medal.”  Id. at 64.

“I have therefore forgotten much of what happened at that time; but I remember that I refused completely to allow it to trouble me,” Ingemar wrote.  Id. at 65.

Ingemar’s first professional fight was on Dec. 5, 1952 at Gotherburg against Robert Masson, who was then ranked the No. 4 heavyweight boxer in France.  Ingemar knocked Masson out in the fourth round.  Ingemar was 21-0 when he won the title of Heavyweight Champion of the World on June 26, 1959 when he scored a third round technical knock out over then-heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson of the United States.

During Ingemar’s professional boxing career, before his fight with Werner Wiegand of Germany on Nov. 5, 1954, Ingemar served in the Swedish navy.  “The last three months I worked at Eriksberg; painted and scraped rust from a laid-up detroyer,” Ingemar wrote. “I enjoyed it. It was a bright end to a dark time.”  Id. at 80.  (Ingemar knocked out Weigand in the fifth round.)

Ingemar’s book was written after his first fight with Patterson in 1959.  Chapter 17 of Ingemar’s book is a postscript written by Peter Wilson titled “The two return fights.” Ingemar’s book did not discuss his relationship with women.  However, Ingemar was known to be a ladies’ man.

“By the time he was 17 he had fathered two illegitimate children by two Goteborg girls, with the infants put up for adoption.”  (Brooks at 18.)

In 1950, at age 18, Ingemar married Barbro Abrahamsson (also known as Barbara Abramson).  “Not surprisingly, Ingemar was in no mind to settle down, and the couple soon divorced. . . . In 1951 he fathered a son, Eddie, out of wedlock, with yet another neighborhood girl. . . . It was 48 years later that Ingemar met Eddie face-to-face.”  (Brooks at 18.)

In 1954, when Ingemar was 21, he met 17-year-old Birgit Lundgren, a “striking green-eyed brunette, the only child of a Goteborg garbage truck driver.”  (Brooks at 48.)

“This particular day, Birgit was playing handball at a park in Goteborg, in a skimpy outfit that accentuated her athletic frame. . . . Ingemar and a couple of his buddies were gawking and leering and making comments. Birgit took an instant dislike. . . . She knew who he was.  Everyone in Goteborg knew the Johansson kid.  ‘I knew he’d been married when he was still in his teens,’ she recalled, ‘and that he had children living with his former wife.’ Birgit, who had never had a serious  boyfriend, wasn’t interested.” (Brooks at 48.)

Despite Inegmar’s initial boorish behavior, Ingemar and Birgit began dating “and Birgit discovered, to her surprise, that this big lug was ‘a modest, honest, and ambitious young man with whom I had much in common — movies, music, athletics, and birthdays in September one day apart.  My opinion of him changed.'”  (Brooks at 48-49.)

“Ingemar and Birgit began spending all of their free time together” and “Ingemar taught Birgit to trap shoot and play golf” and by 1955 Birgit felt like she “had become part of the family.”  (Brooks at 48.)

Ingemar began his professional career in 1952 and won the European Heavyweight Championship on Sept. 30, 1956, when he knocked out Franco Cavicchi of Italy in a match at Bologna.

“When Birgit began traveling with Ingemar — London, Copenhagen, Paris — the media began arching its collective brow.  (This would be especially true when the two came to America.  . . . Unmarried couples, especially those in the public eye, simply didn’t openly cohabit in the Innocent ’50s.)  When reporters broached this subject, Birgit explained: ‘In my country we don’t make a big mystery of sex. We study it in school and accept it as a natural fact of life, not something . . . tempting but forbidden.'”  (Brooks at 49-50.)

“Press reports invariably described Birgit as shapely and stylish, and seldom failed to mention her job as Ingo’s ‘secretary.’ (She did in fact work for Ingemar, mostly answering his fan mail and warding off overzealous females.) And reporters who described [Birgit] as Ingemar’s financee were quick to add, with a cleverly worded wink, that no definite date for the nuptials had been set. Fact was, Ingemar had never quite gotten around to divorcing his first wife, which didn’t seem to bother Birgit in the least. She certainly sounded like the perfect girl for Ingo.” (Brooks at 50-51.)

“Ingemar was the first heavyweight champion to flaunt a female member of his entourage, Birgit Lundgren, later his wife.”  Dave Anderson, The New Plot for Ali, the Playboy (New York Times — Sept 29, 1975).

During 1957 and the first half of 1958, Ingemar knocked out Henry Cooper at Stockholm, defeated Archie McBride on points at Gothenburg and recorded a TKO over Joe Erskine at Gothenburg. On July 13, 1958, Ingemar was victorious over Germany’s Heinz Neuhaus by a technical knockout at 2:56 of the 12th round.  Neuhaus was 42-7 coming into the fight, which took place at Ingemar’s home town of Gothenburg.

On Sept. 14, 1958, Ingemar fought Eddie Machen before 53,615 boxing fans at the Ullevi football stadium.  Machen, an American, had a record of 24-0-1 and was the number one ranked contender.  Machen was also a 2-1 favorite.  Ingemar knocked Machen out at 2:16 of the first round.  The knockout earned Ingemar a chance to fight Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship title.

On Feb. 1, 1959, Ingemar appeared on the popular CBS television show called What’s My Line?  Ingemar’s “line” was that he would be fighting Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight championship of the world.  On June 14, 1959, Birgit appeared on the same television show.  Birgit’s “line” was that she was a correspondent for a Swedish newspaper and she was the fiancee of boxer Ingemar Johansson of Sweden.

Birgit attended Ingemar’s training camp in New York before his first title fight with Patterson.

“Johansson . . . arrived at Grossinger’s [boxing training camp] with his stunning, brunette girlfriend, Birgit, in tow, and it wasn’t long before rumors were rampant that at night he was going to the body in a far different way than he did with his sparring partners earlier in the day.”  Source: Bernard Fernanez, RIP, Ingemar Johansson (The Sweet Science — Feb. 1, 2009).

INGEMAR.JOHANSSON.TRAINING.GROSSINGER'S.jpg

INGEMAR IN 1959 WHILE TRAINING AT GROSSINGER’S IN NEW YORK

(PHOTO CREDIT: UNKNOWN)

“Yes, the man liked the ladies, and why not? But newspapermen questioned whether [Birgit] should even be in a boxing camp while her man was preparing to take on the heavyweight champion. Not only was she present as he sparred and punched the bag, but there were witnesses who claimed the two dance the night away when he should’ve been getting his proper bed rest.”  Source: Former heavyweight champ Ingemar Johansson lived a life of wins and losses (The Daily News — Feb. 7, 2009).

Birgit attended Ingemar’s championship fight with Patterson on June 26, 1959 when Ingemar knocked Patterson out.  “A reporter spied Birgit and asked how she felt. ‘Vunderful,’ she said.  Was she surprised he won? ‘No. I saw him as he left for the fight and his eyes, they were confident.'” (Brooks at 107.)

“The fight was shown on closed circuit TV in 170 locations in 135 cities. . . . The fight was broadcast live on ABC radio.  Patterson was guaranteed $300,000 and Johansson $100,000. . . . A gate of 21,961 was produced by a crowd of 21,961 at Yankee Stadium. Ticket prices ranged from $5 to $100.”  Source: Floyd Patterson v. Ingemar Johansson (1st meeting) (BoxRec.com.)

“ESPN contributor Berg Sugar wrote: . . . [During the third round] Johansson was on him, battering Patterson with both hands until he collapsed on the mat. Floyd arose for the fifth time, only to be flattened again, this time by a right uppercut, followed by a left and a right.  The champion still refused to quit. Johansson walloped his now-helpless opponent with a left-right-left salvo until referee Rudy Goldstein mercifully stepped in and stopped the fight at 2:03 of Round 3.”  Id.  As a result of the fight, Ingemar was named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year 2009.”

INGEMAR.KNOCKS.OUT.PATTERSON

INGEMAR BECAME THE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD WHEN HE KNOCKED OUT FLOYD PATTERSON IN THE THIRD ROUND IN 1959 AT YANKEE STADIUM IN NEW YORK — INGEMAR FLOORED PATTERSON SEVEN TIMES BEFORE REFEREE RUBY GOLDSTEIN STOPPED THE FIGHT 2:03 INTO THE ROUND

(PHOTO CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The day after Ingemar knocked out Patterson, there was a headline in a New York newspaper: “Ingo — It’s Bingo.”  When Ingemar returned to Sweden he flew in on a helicopter, landing on the main soccer stadium in Gothenburg, his home town, and was cheered by 20,000 people. A smiling Ingemar and Birgit were featured on the cover of the July 20, 1959 issue of LIFE magazine.  The caption read: “Johansson On Vacation With His Friend Birgit.” On June 28, 1959, Ingemar appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York. He showed his knockout punch to Mr. Sullivan.)  On Oct. 4, 1959, Ingemar appeared on the Dinah Shore Chevy Show and sang a Swedish duet with Ms. Shore.  (Ingemar also appear on the show on Jan. 24, 1960 and Feb. 5, 1961.)

INGEMAR SUNG SWEDISH SONGS WITH DINAH SHORE ON AMERICAN TELEVISION

(VIDEO: 5:44)

After winning the heavyweight championship, Ingemar was seen with women other than Birgit.

The late Bert Randolph Sugar, a famous boxing historian, wrote: “The new heavyweight champion of the world was an impishly handsome Romeo, who enjoyed night clubs more than fight clubs. The media loved him. ‘Ingo,’ as he was called familiarly — and he was called frequently — lived up to his new title and lived up to the hilt; he was wined and dined at the most fashionable watering holes on two continents.” Bert Randolph Sugar, Greatest Knockouts: Patterson vs. Johansson (ESPN.com Sept. 28, 2006). 

Ingemar was reported to have had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. During mid-November 1959, Ingemar attended the “opening night of Eddie Fisher’s four-week engagement at the Empire Room in Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. . . . While Fisher was backstage between shows, Liz and Ingo snuck upstairs to a private suite.  ‘I was the guardian waiting in the living room while all the action took place in the bedroom,’ Richard Hanley, Liz’s traveling secretary, told Darwin Porter in 2012. Porter, a veteran Hollywood chronicleer and notorious celebrity blab-all, describes the Johannson-Taylor assignment as ‘one of Elizabeth’s least-known affairs.’ And it was no brief fling, either. The two enjoyed frequent surreptitious trysts in Montgomery Clift’s airy East 61st Street apartment, where ‘they couldn’t get enough of each other,’ Porter said. Liz reportedly told Hanley: ‘No wonder they call him the Hammer.'” (Brooks at 142-43, quoting Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, Elizabeth Taylor: There’s Nothing Like A Dame at 441 (Blood Moon Productions 2012). (The unauthorized biography of Ms. Taylor also quotes Ms. Taylor in more graphic language about Ingemar’s “knockout punch.”).

“The champ proved adroit at juggling lovers. During his year at the top, Ingemar was frequently spotted at trendy Manhattan nightspots with actress and Playboy playmate Stella Stevens on his arm.  Then there was Italian supermodel Maria Benna, who loved showing off the dazzling six-carat ‘friendship ring’ on her finger, a gift from her heavyweight beau. One afternoon in the spring of 1960, Ingemar cut short an interview . . . in order to rendezvous in a hotel suite with an unnamed ‘regal blonde movie star.'” (Brooks at 143.) (Emphasis added.)  A fan page for Ms. Stevens said that in November 1959 “world heavyweight champion Ingemar Johansson is said cutting a wide swath with her and singer Peggy Lee.”  (Source: Glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com.) (Emphasis added.)

STELLA.STEVENS.jpg

INGEMAR WAS RUMORED TO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED WITH AMERICAN ACTRESS STELLA STEVENS, WHO WAS ALSO A PLAYBOY CENTERFOLD MODEL

(PHOTO CREDIT: UNKNOWN)

In 1959, Ingemar spent time with Elaine Sloane, “an attractive twenty-something brunette working as a secretary for Sport magazine in New York. . . . She quickly found herself under the chap’s spell. ‘He looks like a little boy,’ she gushed to a reporter, ‘and he’s got the biggest dimple on his chin. Some girl ought to have that dimple. He took me out three times that weekend.  He can really dance up a storm.'”  (Brooks at 143.)

At this time, the press would usually “ignore the romantic indiscretions of celebrities and public figures. . . . The closest Ingemar came to being outed was a cryptic passage in a Sport magazine profile that ran in the December 1960 issue: ‘As far as playboying goes . . . the only female that interests him now is Birgit. As a hangover from his Navy days, though, Ingo still has a girl in every port.’ Birgit remained tight-lipped on the subject of Ingemar’s womanizing. Certainly, she had to have known. But in the manner of wives of athletes, movie stars, and politicians of the era, she chose to look the other way. Today she will only say: ‘It was not in my nature to be jealous.'” (Brooks at 143-44.)

On June 20, 1960, Ingemar suffered his first professional boxing defeat when during his re-match with Patterson at the Polo Grounds in New York.  Ingemar was knocked out at 1:51 of the fifth round.  Another re-match was scheduled for 1961.

Before Ingemar’s 1961 rematch with Floyd Patterson, an article in Sports Illustrated stated: “So the lovely Birgit is with him this time, too.  Officially registered at the Sea Breeze, she spends most of her time helping Ingemar relax at the Holiday Inn, frolicking with him in the pool or surf, strolling with him along the beach of lolling on Ingebar’s veranda.”  (Source: Martin Kane, New Ingo With A Left (Sports Illustrated — Feb. 13, 1961).

On March 13, 1961, Patterson knocked Ingemar out again at 2:45 of the sixth round of a match at Miami Beach.  Boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar called Patterson’s knockout of Ingemar one of boxing’s “greatest knockouts.”  Source: Bert Randolph Sugar: Greatest Knockouts: Patterson vs. Johansson (ESPN.com Sept. 28, 2006).

Ingemar fought four more professional fights before he retired.  He won all four: a TKO on Feb. 9, 1962 over England’s Joe Bygraes at Gothenburg, a KO on April 15, 1962 over Wim Snok of the Netherlands at Stockholm, a KO on June 17, 1972 of Dick Richardson of Wales at Gothenburg and a win on points on April 21, 1963 over England’s Brian London at Stockholm.  He retired with a record of professional record of 26-2.

Ingemar appeared as a United States Marine in the 1960 Korean War film titled All the Young Men.  Alan Ladd and Sidney Poitier were the lead actors in the film.

On April 29, 1962, shortly after Ingemar’s fight with Snok, Ingemar and Birgit were married in a private ceremony at an apartment in Goteborg.  “Birgit [was] radiant in a lime green bridal gown” and Ingemar wore a blue suit.  “It was all very hush-hush. Even the pastor was lined up at the last minute, arriving on a moped from Birgit’s church in nearby Harlanda. Immediately after the nuptials the newlyweds left for a week-long honeymoon in Geneva.” (Brooks at 183.)

Time magazine reported: “Married. Ingemar Johansson, 29, dimpled former world heavyweight boxing champion; and Birgit Lundgren, 25, his right-hand gal since 1954 and official fiancee since 1959; he for the second time, she for the first, in Stockholm.”  (Time magazine — May 11, 1962.)

[NOTE — Other reports state that they were married on May 11, 1962.]

On March 26, 1963, just before Ingemar’s final fight against London, Ingemar and Birgit had a son, Jens Patrick.  About two months later, “Ingemar appeared on Swedish television and made it official: ‘I quit,’ he said, ‘and I won’t change my mind. . . . There’s nothing left that incites me to go on boxing. I don’t need fame anymore. I’m fed up with glory.'” (Brooks at 189.)

Ingemar and Birgit lived in an apartment in Geneva.  They had a daughter, Maria. (Born May 24, 1965.) (Ingemar’s other children included Thomas Johansson, Jean Johansson and Ann Johansson.)

“Among the millionaires attracted to the area were Swedish Formula One race driver Joakim Bonnier and wife Marianne, who lived in the tax-free municipality of Arzier, thirty minutes from Geneva. The Johanssons and the Bonniers had become close friends. On one visit, Ingemar and Birgit spied a nearby parcel of land along Arzier’s Alpine slopes, 2,600 feet above Lake Geneva. It was here they would build their dream home, a 10,000 square foot, five-bedroom log cabin.”  (Brooks at 189.)

Ingemar and Birgit were saddened on June 11, 1972 when, during the running of Le Mans in Paris, Bonnier’s race car crashed and he was killed instantly.  Bonnier’s open-top Lola-Cosworth collided with  Ferrari Daytona.  Bonnier’s car then catapulted over the barriers and into trees next to the track.

Ingemar and Birgit began to have marital problems

“By the late 1960s, growing antagonisms were tearing apart the storybook life of Ingo and Birgit. Ingemar, who had always reveled in the company of others, now began spending more and more time hitting Swiss taverns and nightclubs and making the party circuit, a lifestyle the reserved Birgit, with two small children at home, increasingly rejected. ‘I wanted to live life, have a drink now and then,’ Ingemar told a confidant. ‘Birgit did not like that.  In the end, it was so she did not like anything I liked. We drifted apart. I constantly had the feeling that she taunted me and thought I was punchy.'” (Brooks at 198.)

In December 1968, Ingemar bought an expensive Mercedes 280 SL convertible and promptly managed to wreck it with his two children in the car.  (No one was seriously hurt.)  Six months later, Ingemar crashed another car.  “Ingemar escaped with only minor cuts and bruises, while his companion, an unidentified young lady, received not a scratch.”  Three weeks later, Ingemar fought with a man outside a nightclub in Goteborg and then drove away in his car.  “Pulled over by the cops, Ingemar flunked a breathalyzer test, which resulted in a conviction for drunk driving and assault.” (Brooks at 198.)

In early 1969, Birgit moved alone to a studio apartment in Kungsbacka, a suburb of Goteborg. “She began her new life by taking a job, as a receptionist at a hotel.”  Ingemar decided that he was unable to properly care for the two children so he brought them to their mother to care for.  (Brooks at 198-99.)

In March 1969, Judy Garland made a singing tour in Europe. Birgit was Ms. Garland’s personal attendant.  “Less than three months later, Garland would be dead of a drug overdose at age 47.”  (Brooks at 199.)

“For a time, Birgit enjoyed a brief career as a singer as well, appearing in local clubs accompanied by some of Sweden’s finest musicians. ‘I have not just lived vicariously through Ingemar,’ she told an interviewer in 2005. ‘I’ve lived my own life.  I earned a college degree. Now I am mostly retired, working in moderation, running my own law firm in Goteborg.’ Birgit, who never remarried, remains unflinchingly unsentimental. ‘There is no point in looking in the past,’ she says today. ‘There is no future in it.'” (Brooks at 199-200.)

After their separation, Ingemar and Birgit would see each other from time to time.

“For Ingemar, the early 1970s constituted a lost weekend of late nights and high life. He and Birgit continued to see each other and spent extended time together with the children on the Bohuslan archipelago, in a gray house between the mountains and the sea. But things would never again be as they were.”  (Brooks at 200.)

In 1974, Ingemar moved to a small bungalow at Lighthouse Point, Florida, just north of Pompano Beach.  In 1979, Ingemar purchased a motel called the Sea of Cay in Pompano Beach. “[T]he place suited Ingemar to the marrow, and he ran it as a virtual one-man operation where he served as maid, carpenter, painter, plumber, pool-cleaner, and desk clerk. His son Thomas (from his first marriage), then in his mid-twenties, spent summers there and pitched in.”  (Brooks at 201.)

In 1979, Edna Alsterlund, 31, was a Stockholm journalist for a Swedish lifestyle magazine. She was sent to Pompano Beach to write an article on Ingemar, who was then 47-years-old.

“It was sunny with a hint of a chill when Edna walked into the Sea of Cay for her first face-to-face with the champ. It was instant magic, as if the Hammer of Thor had been replaced with Cupid’s arrow. Edna describes herself, as being ‘totally overwhelmed by his personality.’ She was shocked to find this ex-pug ‘well-versed in art, music, poetry,’ his sly, subtle humor disarming, his shy, innate sweetness endearing in an old-world sort of way.”  (Brooks at 204.)

Ingemar and Edna began to fall in love.

“Within days the two were inseparable. Too soon, however, it was time for Edna to return to Sweden.  If it was just a fling, so be it. Edna was devoted to her work. As one of the country’s top journalists, she might interview a drug addict one day and Sweden’s royal couple the next.  For Edna, who never married, the idea of a long-distance relationship seemed out of the question. And certainly not with Ingo. Too old, she remembered thinking, plus too many ex-wives, too many children.” (Brooks at 204-05.)

But romance between Ingemar and Edna continued.

“Apart, the two began a romance by phone. It wasn’t long before Edna began making trips to South Florida. In early 1981 she packed up and moved to Pompano Beach, into a two bedroom apartment . . . and set up shop as a foreign correspondent for the Swedish newspaper Expressen. These were idyllic times. Ingo taught Edna how to fish, swing a golf club, and cook Chicken a la King.  Most of all, Edna remembers Ingo’s unconditional love. . . . [I]t pleased Edna when, following a lover’s quarrel, Ingo would typically respond, ‘Dearest, I not made at you. I’m mad at what you said.'”  (Brooks at 205.)

In the spring of 1981, Ingemar decided to run the Stockholm Marathon that was scheduled during August 1981. He was 49-years-old and 300 pounds.  Ingemar started training and reduced his weight to “a comparatively svelte 247 pounds.” There were 8,000 runners and some 300,000 spectators.  “He looked like a sumo wrestler who’d turned up at the wrong event. Fans along the route roared with delight as Ingemar passed, the response so tumultuous that two motorcycle cops were forced to clear a path for him as he covered the final six miles. . . . Johansson was back in the spotlight, and for something positive for a change. . . . Now, improbably, he was a hero again, a role model for overweight, out-of-shape middle-agers everywhere.”  (Brooks at 206.)

INGEMAR.JOHANSSON.RUNNING.png

INGEMAR, 49, WHILE RUNNING THE STOCKHOLM MARATHON IN AUGUST 1981 — HE ALSO RAN THE NEW YORK MARATHON IN OCTOBER 1981

(PHOTO CREDIT: AFTONBLADET)

“Through the mid-1980s, Ingemar and Edna traveled frequently together but not always together. Story assignments kept Edna globe-trotting, while Ingemar provided boxing commentary for the Nordic network TV 1000, a gig requiring weekly flights to a London studio. For Ingemar there were also marathons, promotional tours, charity events, and memorabilia shows where fans paid to meet the champ and get his autograph.” (Brooks at 213.)

“To Edna, Ingemar was an incurable and chronic romantic.  When Edna would leave on assignment, Ingo’s parting words were always the same: ‘I miss you already.’ Sometimes Ingemar would miss Edna so badly he’d hop a flight and join her on assignment.” (Brooks at 214.)

In the late 1980s Ingemar sold his real estate in Florida and joined Edna in Stockholm. They also purchased an apartment in Puerto Portals in Mallorca, located off Spain’s east coast in the Western Mediterranean.  “Mallorca was a fall retreat. . . . [T]he rest of the year . . . Ingemar . . . preferred Sweden’s east coast to the Goteborg of his youth and bought a plot of land in Dalaro . . . in the Swedish archipelago. Here, in 1989, the couple built their dream house.” (Brooks at 214.)

Ingemar and Edna married in 1996.  (Brooks at 3.)

In the mid-1990s, Edna began noticing that Ingemar had some memory problems. “TV 1000 executives began asking Edna to accompany Ingemar on broadcast gigs. There were other troubling signs. Ingemar, never more than a social drinker, had begun consuming more heavily. By the mid 1990s the alcohol was turning the once cheery Ingo increasingly glum. As Ingemar began relying on Edna to manage his daily affairs, she gradually accepted fewer and fewer writing assignments. Still, Edna remembers thinking: A bit of rest was all Ingo needed, and life could be as it ever was.” The mid-1996 death of Ingemar’s father, Jens Johansson, was also hard on Ingemar.  (Brooks at 218-19.)

“[T]he normally taciturn Johansson began to display flashes of temper. He refused to attend one party because he was convinced that the host had fallen in love with Edna.” (Brooks at 219.)

In November 1996, Ingemar and Edna went to Las Vegas to watch a heavyweight title fight between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. “Longtime friend Gene Kilroy, a casino executive . . . suggested the time had come, after 16 years together, for Edna and Ingo to tie the knot. . . . Kilroy set the event in motion, booking Las Vegas’ Treasure Island resort for the occasion.  TV 1000 arranged for the wedding to be broadcast on Swedish television as a prelude to the big fight. The ceremony took place at mid-night, Swedish time. . . . Following the nuptials, Ingemar joined the broadcast team as color man.” (Brooks at 222.)

In 1997, Edna started doing research on Alzheimer’s disease.  “She knew some things, naturally — that Ronald Reagan suffered from it, that it was a disease of forgetfulness.   . . Some days, the champ seemed like Ingo of old. . . . Gradually, Ingemar’s behavior grew increasingly strange. He began peppering Edna with the same questions, over and over: What is today? Is our money safe? When are we leaving? Are you sure no one is living in Dalaro while we’re away? What day is today? Is our money safe? In the evenings he began watching the same three movies night after night: The Godfather, Death Wish, and Dirty Harry. Ingemar would ask Edna how Jens [his father] was doing, as if he were still alive.” (Brooks at 222-23.)

“The Johanssons flew to Pompano Beach in October of 1998 in what would be their final winter in Florida. Ingemar was becoming increasingly disoriented. At times neighbors would find him wandering the Pompano neighborhood, lost. . . . Their Florida days at an end, Edna packed their belongings for the last time in preparation for a permanent move back to Sweden.” (Brooks at 224)

“In September 1998, Momma Ebba [Ingemar’s mother], age 87, suffered a stroke at her home in Goteborg. She was rushed to the hospital, but died before Edna and Ingemar could arrive. Thomas broke the news to his father, who seemed, briefly, to understand. Minutes later, Ingemar asked Thomas: ‘How are mother and father feeling?’ . . . While in Goteborg, Edna and Ingemar spent nights at Ebba’s apartment, where Ingemar paced from room to room, searching for his parents.”  (Brooks at 225.)

In 1999, Ingemar received a phone call from 48-year-old Eddie Henriksson of Goteborg. The name Eddie Henriksson “meant nothing to Ingemar.  Not until Henriksson told him, ‘I’m your son.’ This was Ingo’s forgotten son, conceived out of wedlock during his wild teenage years. ‘I was afraid he would tell me to stay away,’ Eddie remembered, ‘but he immediately said, “Oh my God, come visit.” Eddie drove to Stockholm and met his father for the first time. He and daughter Paula, 28, spent a weekend with Ingemar and Edna. . . . The reunion was short-lived. They kept in phone contact for a short time . . . [b]ut as Ingemar’s illness progressed, the calls stopped coming . . . and Eddie never saw his father again.”  (Brooks at 226.)

“By the fall of 2000 Ingemar was sleeping 14 to 18 hours a day, would go days without shaving, weeks without showering. His diet dwindled to Danish pastry, blueberry jam, and milk. For the first time, Edna tried explaining to Ingemar the nature of his affliction. Ingemar shrugged it off.”  (Brooks at 229.)

“In the fall of 2001 a desperate Edna arranged for a dementia-trained nurse named Anna to come two days a week.  On Thanksgiving, Edna marked the American holiday with a new mantra: ‘It is best not to remember Ingemar as he was,’ she pledged, ‘but to learn to love him as he is.'”  (Brooks at 231.)

“In January 2003, Edna received word that a unit was available in a group home in Saltsjobaden . . . twenty minutes from downtown Stockholm and 300 miles west of Goteborg.  . . . Come move-in day, Ingemar was surprisingly compliant. He was told he was being treated for ulcers. ‘How long will I be here?’ Ingemar asked.”  (Brooks at 233.)

“Ingemar adjusted quickly to his new life.  Edna visited nearly every day and invariably found him freshly shaved, showered, and in good spirits. He had even begun eating regularly.  The vagaries of Ingemar’s affliction were such that he had no idea how long Edna had been away.  Each time she arrived, it was as if mere moments had passed since he’d seen her last. . . . Never did Ingemar seem happier than when Edna brought Dixie to Saltsjobaden. The little jack terrier would leap to her master’s lap while Ingo gushed: ‘Daddy’s girl, how’s Daddy’s girl?'” (Brooks at 234.)

“In the summer of 2003, on a visit to Saltsjobaden, [Ingemar’s brother Rolf Johansson] had Ingemar sign an application requesting a move to a municipality run group home just outside Goteborg. . . . The application was then filed by Birgit, who lived in the municipality.  Now it became clear to Edna: her husband’s ex-wife, who had been apart from Ingemar since the late 1970s, was in league with Rolf.  Their goal, Edna knew, ‘was to engineer a divorce over our heads and against our wills.’ The internecine battle for control, which now included a signed public document, convinced Edna to go public with Ingemar’s dementia, before the media could turn this sordid mess into tabloid fodder. Edna phoned a trusted friend, a journalist for Aftonbladet, whom she felt could handle the story with sensitivity. The next morning, the story was front-page news.  Edna was suddenly inundated with calls from morning shows and magazines. She declined them all.”  (Brooks at 234-35.)

On Aug. 12, 2003, there was a headline in the newspaper: “Ingo Applying for Divorce.”  “Edna slumped to the floor.  The anti-Edna faction had scored a knockout blow. The fact that Ingemar could scarcely have understood the complexities of whatever documents he was signing seemed lost in the noise and clutter. . . . Edna consulted a trusted counselor. . . . [H]e delivered the bad news. She could contest the divorce, certainly, but the case would undoubtedly drag on for years, their private lives played out in open court and sensationalized by the press, none of which would benefit Ingemar in the least. Edna was beaten.” (Brooks at 235.)

An article about the coerced divorce stated: “Then came the next slap. Some of Ingemar’s relatives wanted to move him to a place in Gothenburg, Sweden, where they lived. To achieve this, they got Ingemar to sign a petition for divorce.”  Source: Anna Carsall, Edna Alsterlund, everything collapsed when Ingo became ill (MaBra — date unknown).

“It was like they wanted to erase his years as a mature, adult male, the 22 years he had had with me, Edna said. “I was heartbroken for both my and Ingemar’s sake. It was so horrible and ruthlessly they wanted to spread us.  I had probably won the dispute in court. But I could not see our life’s tragedy be replayed as a serial in the press.  The most important thing, I thought, was to create calm around Ingemar.”  (Carsall article.)

On Dec. 13, 2003, Edna “and Thomas sat with Ingemar as he slept in his bed at Saltsjobaden. The room was empty now, stripped of his belongings. . . . Rolf had taken everything to the facility near Goteborg. Maria [Johansson] would be arriving soon to carry her father to his new home. Edna leaned in and kissed Ingemar gently on the cheek. Just before she left, she pressed her lips to his ear. ‘I will always love you,’ she whispered. It was the last time she would see Ingemar.” (Brooks at 235.)

EDNA.ASTERLUND.jpg

EDNA ASTERLUND MET INGEMAR IN FLORIDA IN 1979 WHEN SHE WAS 31 AND HE WAS 47 — THEY LIVED 24 YEARS TOGETHER

(PHOTO CREDITS: ANGELICA ENGSTROM AND CLAES L.)

“Ingemar spent his last years in a nursing home on Sweden’s west coast, in Kungsbaka, a few kilometers from his childhood home. . . . [W]hen Olof [Johansson] visited in the fall of 2008, Ingemar’s inexorable decline was evident: ‘He got up from a chair and took one step and froze. The doctors said it was because his brain did not remember how to tell his body to move the other foot.’ . . . Mostly, Ingemar slipped between sleep and increasingly brief moments of consciousness. . . . Now he was unable to utter a word. On Saturday, January 24, the nursing staff informed the family that Ingemar’s condition had turned critical.” (Brooks at 239.)

“Five minutes before midnight on Friday, January 30, Ingemar Johansson, 76, slipped out of this ring and into the next.”  ‘He took three deep breaths,’ Thomas said, ‘and then it was as if he fell asleep.  There was no pain.  I felt peace. He was beyond his misery.” (Brooks at 240.)

It was reported that Ingemar “was reunited by his second wife, Birgit, who was at his side when he died . . . .”  Frank Litsky, Ingemar Johansson, Who Beat Patterson for Heavyweight Title, Dies at 76 (New York Times — Jan. 31, 2009).

“Even the selection of pallbearers fell victim to the family schism, as finding six non-feuding Johanssons seemed unlikely. . . . Instead . . . the simple brown casket was borne into Vasa Church by representatives of Ingo’s old Redbergslids Boxing Club. Inside the church lay a multitude of wreaths with banners. “You Made an Entire Nation Proud,” read one. “Once a Champ, Always a Champ,” read another. Among the mourners was Raymond Patterson, representing his brother Floyd, who had passed away in 2006 from complications resulting from boxing-induced dementia.”  (Brooks at 241.)  (Ingemar and Floyd Patterson became close friends after they retired from boxing.  They visited each other several times during their retirement.)

“The coffin left the church accompanied by Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way,’ Ingo’s personal favorite, a song Sinatra had sung to Ingemar on several occasions.”  (Brooks at 243.)

Ingemar was named The Ring Fighter of the Year for 1958 and 1959, the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year for 1959, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year for 1959 and the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year in 1959. Ingemar was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1988 and into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2000, Ingemar was ranked as the third best Swedish athlete of the 20th Century by the Swedish Sports Academy.

Ingemar participated for Sweden in the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. He was disqualified for alleged passivity in a match against eventual Olympic gold medalist Ed Sanders of the United States.  However, in 1982 the International Olympic Committee reconsidered Ingemar’s disqualification and awarded him the silver medal.  Ingemar discussed his amateur and professional boxing career in his 1961 English language autobiography titled Second Out of the Ring.  (The book was originally published in 1959 under the title Sekonderna Lamnar Ringen.  The book was translated into English by Rodger and Jan Jonsjo.)

Edna wrote a book in 2011 about caring for Ingemar while he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.  Edna’s book is titled Den Langsta Ronden (The longest round).

Reviews of Mr. Brooks’ excellent book on Ingemar Johansson include Doug Gibson, Johansson boxing biography harkens back to a different culture (Ogden Standard-Examiner Feb. 13, 2016); Thomas Hauser, Thoughts from the Colonies on Ingemar Johansson (Box Nation — May 7, 2016); Dan Cuoco, Ingemar Johansson Swedish Heavyweight Boxing Champion (International Boxing Research Organization — July 9, 2016); Bobby Franklin, There’s A Lot More to Ingo (Boxing Over Broadway — Sept. 13, 2016) and Benjamin Dettmar, Review of Ingemar Johansson: Swedish Heavyweight Boxing Champion (Sports in American History — Sept. 24, 2016).

There are three Swedish documentary films about Ingemar: En Dag med Ingo (1960) (“A Day with Ingo”), Avgorandet Floyd – Ingo (1961), Med Krut i Navarna (1969)(With Gunpowder In His Fists”) and Det Finns Bara en Ingemar Johansson (2004) (“There is Only One Ingemar Johansson).  The 2004 film (1:39.50) can be viewed on YouTube by searching “Med Krut I Navarna.”  The commentary is in Swedish.

Ingemar had a small acting part in All the Young Men, a 1960 Korean War film starring Alan Ladd and Sidney Poitier.  Ingemar also appeared in Tre dar pa luffen, a 1964 Swedish comedy, For tapperhet i talt, a 1965 Swedish comedy and Drra pa —  kul grej pa vag till Gotet, a 1967 Swedish comedy starring Eva Rydberg.  He also appeared in the TV movie Inger Stevens in Sweden (1965) and the Swedish television shows Gast hos Haggeg (1975), Allsang pa Skansen (1990).

In January 2011, the 1959 Johnny Lion song “Ingemar Johansson” written by Bert Caroll and Russell Moody was re-released on the album “From the Vault” The Coed Records Lost Master Tapes, Volume 1.”  The partial lyrics are:

Ingemar Johansson, Ingemar Johanson, Ingemar Johanson’s a mighty big Swede / He kept a saying, he kept a saying, this right hand is all that I’ll need / He came all the way from Sweden to the U.S.A., he said that he would take home the title away / From the heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, who vowed that he would keep the crown that he had won / Well everyone who saw him at his training camp, said this big Swede will never beat the champ / They couldn’t make him throw his mysterious right / He said he was saving it for the fight . . . The newspapers wrote that Ingemar was a fool / For he was busy breaking all the training rules . . .

INGEMAR.JOHANSSON

INGEMAR JOHANSSON DURING HIS BOXING YEARS

(PHOTO CREDIT: BOXREC.COM)

INGEMAR.JOHANSSON.OLDER.YEARS

INGEMAR JOHANSSON DURING HIS OLDER YEARS

INGEMAR.JOHANSSON.GRAVE.jpg

INGEMAR’S GRAVE SITE AT VASTRA KYRKOGARDEN AT GOTEBORG, SWEDEN

(PHOTO CREDIT: UNKNOWN)