Here I resume the Famous Photographs series. Today’s photograph is that of Michael O’Brien. He is regarded as the first ever streaker during a major sporting event. Now streaking is commonplace in the western world of sports.
Streaking is the act of running naked in public areas. Although discouraged but this act is generally not seen as ugly demonstration of nudity in public. Streaking is considered more of a way of public amusement or protest against something.
Michael O’Brien was the man who started this trend in the sporting world.
On April 20, 1974, a rugby match was on at Twickenham stadium (this suburban town is near London). England was playing against France. During the half-time Michael O’Brien ran naked on the field before a crowd of 48,000 people. Princess Alexandra was also in attendance. O’Brien did this stunt in order to win a bet. But this 25 years old man was not in good luck. The police arrested and fined him 10 pounds –it was exactly the amount O’Brien had won in bet! Moreover, he was fired from his job the very next day. His employers did not like his mischievous behavior on the rugby field.
Later, O’Brien went on to become a successful businessman in Australia. He shunned the media for 32 years and tried to keep mum about his adventure. In 2006, however, he eventually spoke on an Australian TV show called “Where are they now?”. On the show, O’Brien regretted his stunt and said that streaking is a stupid thing to do. He said he was not proud of starting this trend.
Bruce Perry is the Police Constable who is holding his helmet in front of O’Brien’s private part (which no longer was really private!). The organizers of the said Australian TV show had also invited Perry. On the show, Perry gifted the famous helmet to O’Brien and said “I feared he would be mobbed, or that other people would follow suit. I felt embarrassed so I covered him up as best I could.” He then added “It was a cold day – he had nothing to be proud of”.
Now this famous policeman’s helmet is on display in the museum at Twickenham.
This photograph was taken by Ian Bradshaw. The photograph won numerous awards including the World Press Photo of the Year. It was also chosen as the “Picture of the Year” by the Life magazine and “Picture of the Decade” by People magazine.
Such small incidence sometimes make history! I am sure you loved the photograph and the amusing story behind it. Do comment and let me know what you think of it. Feedback from my readers is always welcome. Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for more interesting famous photographs.