When sports commentators say that even the best Hollywood script writers couldn’t write a series of events, they frequently exaggerate. Sport, on the other hand, can offer possibilities that would be considered far-fetched in fiction. Moreover, everyone loves a good underdog story. The idea that David can beat Goliath now and again is part of what keeps sports one of the most popular diversions on the planet.
Sports upsets will happen, and the best part is that they will occur when you least expect them. These are some of the finest moments in sports history for the casual fan. Even more so for some of these teams’ supporters, because these are the events that they still look forward to to this day. But, unfortunately, some of these tragic occurrences continue to haunt the supporters of the unhappy team, making them wish they never have to go through something so upsetting again. So, here we have the most significant sporting upsets of all time.
Buster Douglas Beating Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was the world’s unbeaten and undisputed heavyweight champion. Buster Douglas was a 42/1 underdog whose ring opponent was expected to be a gentle warm-up for a fight with Evander Holyfield. Tyson, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, was expected to dispatch his fellow American efficiently. Two HBO experts, Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley said they felt the bout would be done in 90 seconds.
Instead, it is widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxing upset in history. Douglas got off to a strong start, letting Tyson know that he would not be pushed around easily. The champion struggled to find his stride, and Douglas gained confidence as a result. The knockout came in the tenth round and is now remembered as one of the most incredible moments in boxing history.
USA Beating Soviet Union (Winter Olympics 1980)
Based on my research and what I had in mind before starting this list, the United States hockey team defeating the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics topped numerous lists. The Soviets were the clear favorites going into this game, as they were a team with a lot of history and experience. On the other hand, the Americans were a ragtag group of players, most of whom were college players or nobodies. Despite this, they managed to take Lake Placid by storm and defeat the Soviets in what will go down in history as one of the biggest sporting upsets of all time.
Pirates Beat The Yankees (World Series Final)
It is still the only World Series in which Game 7 was decided by a walk-off home run. When the Pirates and Yankees met in 1960, they played one of the most unusual Fall Classics ever. New York thrashed the Pirates in each of its three victories, winning by a combined score of 38-3. The Pirates, on the other hand, only outscored the Yankees 24-17 in their four victories. The lead changed hands three times in the final two innings of Game 7, which was a back-and-forth game. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth inning, with the score tied 9-9, Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski, who is most renowned for his defense, hit a 1-0 fastball over the left-field wall for an improbable triumph.
Juan Martin del Potro Beating Roger Federer (US Open)
Roger Federer is the finest tennis player ever to put on a pair of white shorts and take up a racquet. He is the most decorated player of all time. He has set innumerable records in the sport that will almost certainly never be broken. So there was no doubt in anyone’s mind when the 2009 US Open rolled around that Federer would win his sixth title. He breezed to the final — only to be startled by Juan Martin del Potro, a 20-year-old who forced Federer to five sets and then stunned him 6-2 in the fifth to win the championship. The Argentinean has never won another major since.
Japan Beat South Africa (Rugby World Cup)
The all-conquering New Zealand All Blacks were the clear overall champions of the Rugby World Cup. Still, it was Japan’s national team that pulled off the biggest upset in rugby history by defeating former world champions South Africa in a Pool B match. In the final minute of the game, Karne Hesketh’s try handed the Cherry Blossoms their historic 34-32 win over South Africa at the Brighton Community Stadium, after a valiant effort that lasted the entire 80 minutes. As a result of this outstanding performance, Japan’s then-manager Eddie Jones was offered a place with the England team.
Whether it’s an upstart team dethroning an established champion, or an unknown athlete pulling off a big upset against what appears to be an insurmountable foe, underdog stories can reverberate for months, years, or decades—inspiring others to attempt the same incredible accomplishments. But, of course, the best moments sometimes happen when no one expects them to, which is why upsets and underdog stories are so compelling.
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