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Canadian History for Kids: Cliff Thorburn

April 24, 1983 – Canadian Cliff Thornburn wins the World Professional Snooker Championships.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at an amazing Canadian, Cliff Thorburn.

On April 23, 1983, Cliff Thorburn became the first snookers player to shoot a perfect score of 147 in the World Championships.

Clifford Charles Devlin Thorburn was born in Victoria British Columbia on January 16, 1948. He picked up the cue for the first time when he was 14 years old and was winning money by the time he was 16.

In 1970, at the age of 22, he was the North American Snookers Champion. Four years later, in 1974, he played his first Canadian Open at the CNE and won.

In 1980 he was the World Snookers Champion, making him one of only three players outside of the United Kingdom to win the world title. He won the Embassy World Championship against Alex Higgins. It was Higgins who nicknamed him the “Grinder” for his defensive style. He was also nicknamed “the Rhett Butler of the green baize” because he was always dressed elegantly and had a well groomed moustache.

In 1983 he became the first player to compile a maximum break at the world champions. He shot a perfect score of 147 against Terry Griffiths in his second round. He reached the final round but lost to Steve Davis. During the semi-final Thorburn’s wife miscarried their baby, and while some felt it was the reason for his lost, Thorborn believed that finishing early the same morning he was to play in the final later that day had left him physically exhausted.

Six months later he was awarded the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall and later than night he was playing a game of snookers with the Governor-General Ed Schreyer.

He has been the Benson and Hedges Master Champion three times. This is the most prestigious non-ranking event, held at the Wembley Conference Centre near London, England. He won in 1983 against Ray Reardon, in 1985 against Doug Mountjoy and in 1986 against Jimmy White.

He was the first player to retain the Masters title.

He has been inducted into the Canadian Snookers Hall of Fame in 1990 and the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

He now lives in Markham, Ontario.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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