5 of the Biggest Upsets In Sports History

The idea of an underdog is an interesting concept, generally, it is a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a contest. It is the notion of a contender having less status compared to their counterpart. If you like rooting for the underdog, then you rarely have reason to cheer but sometimes special teams and athletes pull off huge surprises. Let’s traverse through sports biggest upsets over the years, from 1990 to 2016.

Buster Douglas Floors Mike Tyson

Tyson walked into the ring being considered as the most feared man on the planet with a pair of boxing gloves. Douglas, by contrast, had a reputation for fading late in fights and many boxing experts questioned his toughness and longevity toward the latter of his career.

Douglas entered the fight a 42-1 underdog, with only a select few sportsbooks posting odds on the fight. The bout itself was as stunning as the final outcome. The outsider took it to Tyson from the opening bell, dictating the fight and getting the better of Iron Mike almost every exchange.

The challenger looked to be in trouble after swallowing a huge uppercut, consequently hitting the canvas in the eighth round, but the Ohio born boxer rallied in the ninth to hammer Tyson with a flurry of power punches. Iron Mike was unable to deal with the magnitude of punches Douglas was throwing at him in the ninth, dispatching the champion with a perfect uppercut. Tyson couldn’t beat the count, and many consider this the greatest upset in boxing history.

Greece Wins Euro 2004

Having begun the tournament at odds of 150/1, very few fans or pundits alike would have tipped Greece to take home silverware from Euro 2004. Without a standout household name to call upon, the Greek side was expected to make an early exit from the European competition.

Those who want to learn how to bet on football, for instance, quickly learn how monumental this victory was for the Greeks. The script that was laid out for them was thoroughly ignored. Shocking hosts in Portugal in the opening group stages was a clear message sent to their European counterparts. This 2-1 victory was followed with a hard-fought draw with Spain, before being defeated by Russia.

The Greeks started to ride a wave of momentum in the knock-out-stages as they put defending champions France to the sword. Shortly followed was a victory over the Czech Republic in the semi-final. Greece had found themselves in the European finals. A Portugal side that contained a plethora of talent awaited the Greeks in the final, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo. The world watched on expecting Portugal to thwart the Greek’s hype train. However, just one goal was required to bask in glory, and Greece pulled off the impossible to secure the 2004 European Championship.

Tom Brady’s Patriots Shock Rams for First Super Bowl

Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) walks off of the field after a loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, beating the St Louis Rams 20-17 in New Orleans in 2001. The Patriots were the underdogs that seasons leaving a trail of upsets behind them on the way to the finals.

The Pats were 14-point underdogs but managed to come flying out of the traps to a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter. Kurt Warner rallied the St. Louis back with two touchdowns to tie the game, and the game was 17 apiece. Tom Brady got the ball at his own 17-yeard-line with 1:30 left to play. Eight passes and 53 yards late, Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to send the Rams packing. The Pats had won the Super Bowl.

Japan Shock South Africa at Rugby World Cup 2015

As the Rugby World Cup kick-started in 2015, South Africa was tipped in the tournament to go far even potentially winning it. In the Springboks opener against Japan at the Amex Stadium, their opponents were considered wide outsiders, being able to get odds as high as 80-1.

Arguably the biggest shock in the game of rugby to date, Japan shot out of the blocks early to rattle the heavy favorites. Yet, despite Japan’s valiant efforts, the dark horses found themselves trailing at the break by two. Most expected the Spring boxes to jolt into life in the second half and put Japan to the sword, but the Japanese refused to fade away.

The second half of the contest produced some truly tantalizing moments, but in the dying embers of the game, the favorites led 30-27. Japan was handed a lifeline in the form of a penalty. However, instead of kicking the three points, the Japanese went for all-out victory, and in the last play of the game managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat to cause the biggest upset of the summer.

Leicester City Premier League Champions 2015/16

5000/1 outsiders Leicester City couldn’t have imagined in their wildest dreams that they would have been crowned Premier League champions in May 2016. The East Midland club appeared destined for championship football the season before, narrowly missing the drop.

In the beginning, it seemed Leicester had hit their stride, dispatching teams in emphatic style, in addition to maintaining fine form. As the season continued, the Foxes composure continued, and with it came the points. The season was approaching its end when Tottenham launched a challenge against the Foxes. However, falling short to Chelsea ended any hopes of the North London outfit ending Leicester’s fairy tale.

Leicester had done the unthinkable and was crowned Premier League champions in the most unlikely story in sporting history. Each member of the Leicester side had their own compelling underdog story, from Vardy playing non-league to Claudio Ranieri resurrecting his career.

Marcelo Villa

About Marcelo Villa

Marcelo is an associate editor at The Sports Daily, and has covered the San Diego Chargers for Bleacher Report. He also writes for Sportsdirect Inc.

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