Everyone likes to root for the underdog, and the sports underdog is no exception. Fans and the media love it when a team set for inevitable failure makes a comeback and wins unexpectedly, triumphing over adversity. History is littered with many times the underdog was victorious, but here are seven in particular when they took home that all-important win.
The English Premier League is a title worth winning. However, there have been six or seven clubs at the top for several years who always seemed to take the victory. In the 2015-16 season, Leicester was not expected to get anywhere near winning. Their odds were 5000 to 1 of coming in on top. Anyone who had placed a canny bet on them would likely have been laughed out of the bookies; however, they certainly made a lot of money that year because, against everything, Leicester City did take the title. No one is quite sure how it happened, but it seems that they were generally underestimated by the big guns who thought it was in the bag for them, and they snuck up the inside to claim a victory.
A similar scenario unfolded some years earlier in 2004 when the Greek national team went to the Euro Cup. They were indeed enthusiastic, but they were something of a joke squad that no one took very seriously. It was the first time in 24 years they had qualified to take part.
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This very clearly demonstrates why you should never discount the underdog. In the quarterfinals, they came up against France, who were very much favourite to finish highly. However, in the 65th minute, one of their strikers managed to nail a completely unexpected goal, giving them a one-nil win. They then came up against the Czech Republic in the semi-finals, bested them, and finally met Portugal’s host team as their opponents in the euro Cup final. It must have been the enthusiasm that carried them as they won on the day and took the trophy.
It’s not always a team that can be labelled the underdog. In 1990 Mike Tyson was at the top of his game, and when he was scheduled to fight Buster Douglas, no one had any idea he could lose. He was 42 to one favourite. But, again, anyone who did bet on Douglas certainly made their money that day. It came as a massive shock to Tyson, who seemed to take it so personally, he went on to lose the WBA, WBC, IBF, and lineal heavyweight championship titles as a result. But, on the other hand, it catapulted Douglas to becoming something of a celebrity and household name.
New York Mets
This time we travel even further back in history to 1969. The New York Mets, who had picked up the ironic nickname, the Miracle Mats work, definitely not expected to win anything. In the 1967 season, they racked up seriously unimpressive 101 losses. Again, no one is quite sure how they pulled it off, but in 1969, the newly created National League East title was up for grabs and somehow, they scored an impressive 100-62 record snatching the win.
The 2000 Olympics took place in Athens. It was the Super heavyweight wrestling final, and man-mountain Alexsandr Karelin had earned his place entirely expectedly. However, his opponent was a farm boy aged 29 years old from Wyoming who looked relatively diminutive when he stood next to the giant.
There was no one in the stadium that day except perhaps his mum, who thought he could win. The Russian fighter had a fearsome reputation. He had been undefeated for over 15 years and taken three consecutive Olympic gold medals as well as an impressive seven world titles. This is one you should Google and watch the video for because the win for Gardner is impressive.
Any team with Pirates in their name is likely to garner public support, but they were the underdogs on this occasion. It was the 1960 World Series, and they were pitted against the New York Yankees. Their record was impressive winning ten of their last 12 pennants. But, again, the smart money was on the Yankees. It looked pretty much in the bag until one of the Pittsburgh Pirates hit the most historic home run in the whole history of baseball.
The NCAA championships in 1985 looked like a dead cert for Georgetown. They were the title holders winning the year before, and one of their players was Patrick Ewing, who went on to future NBA legend status. Villanova was rated 8th and very unlikely to win. But they pulled it out of nowhere and displayed some excellent shooting prowess taking the college basketball championships into the history books with a 66-64 victory.