Top 10 greatest sporting upsets


Everyone loves an underdog. There’s something poetic about an individual or team who overcome all odds when they’re largely expected to lose. And many have written themselves into the history books by putting in mountains of effort and plenty of heart which  should be both celebrated and shared.

Here’s our Top 10 greatest sporting upsets list…

10. Holly Holm knocks out Ronda Rousey at UFC 193

The relatively unknown Holly Holm shocked the sporting world by brutally knocking out the seemingly invincible Ronda Rousey. Not only did she knock the superstar out with a perfectly executed head kick, she completely dominated the fight. Her astonishing display was in front of the biggest crowd in UFC history right here in Melbourne.

9. Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson

In 1990 Tokyo, Japan, Buster Douglas walked into the ring to face an undefeated Mike Tyson. Tyson had won his past 37 fights, 33 of which by knockout or TKO.

The odd makers gave Douglas no chance making him a staggering 42 to 1 underdog, so what happened next surprised everybody. In the tenth and final round Douglas landed a devastating uppercut that snapped Tyson’s head back and the follow-up punches left Tyson lying on the canvas making Douglas the heavyweight champion.

8. 1983 America’s Cup

It was the victory that put Australia on the international sporting map, and how sweet it was.

Australia’s campaign for the Cup kicked off in 1962, with Sir Frank Packer’s Gretel becoming the first challenger outside of Great Britain and Canada.

Numerous attempts by Sir Frank and sailing icon Sir James Hardy failed to amount to much; however Alan Bond, a controversial Perth businessman came to the fore with marine architect Ben Lexcen and helped to rewrite the history books.

At the end of four races, with the score 3-1 against them, the Australia II stepped up to the massive challenge ahead and with sheer determination and Aussie-grit went on to win the remaining three races, becoming the first non-American yacht to win the Cup.


7. Iceland’s Euro 2016 Run

If you’ve paid any attention to the Euro 2016, chances are you would have fallen in love with Iceland. The Nordic nation is coached by a part-time dentist and managed to make it to the quarter finals after knocking out footballing giants England.

For a nation not known for its soccer prowess, but rather its Viking history, their inspiring performances are considered one of the greatest underdog stories in recent sports history.

We think their commentator sums up the jubilation of their unexpected success pretty well.

6. Collingwood beats Melbourne to win the 1958 premiership

Melbourne had won the last three premierships and they were more than confident of making it four in a row. Collingwood was the only team to have won four in a row before.

The Magpies entered the game as the long outsiders against a Melbourne team described as the ‘perfect footy team’. In front of more than 97,000 die-hard fans Collingwood staged a remarkable comeback to win the game and protect their record of most premierships won in a row.

5. Steven Bradbury wins gold at the Salt Lake Olympics

They say Australia is the lucky country and Steven Bradbury was riding every bit of that luck in the 2002 Olympics.  It started in the quarter-finals when Bradbury came third but he needed to finish in the top two to qualify. Defending world champion Marc Gagnon was however disqualified for obstructing another racer leaving a spot for Bradbury to qualify for the semi-finals.

In the semi-finals Bradbury was coming last until all three of his competitors fell paving the way for him to come through and qualify for the final.

In the final Bradbury couldn’t match the pace of his competitors and again found himself way behind the pack. Seven laps down and coming around the final turn Bradbury witnessed something amazing happen. All three competitors in front of him crashed into each other leaving Bradbury to sail past with his arms held up in glory to take home the gold medal for Australia.

4. Michelle Payne wins the Melbourne Cup

It’s a race that stops a nation and the 2015 winner of the Melbourne Cup did more than just that. Michelle Payne shocked the racing world by becoming the first female jockey to win the prestigious event in 155 years and left bookmakers speechless.

The horse itself was also an underdog and cost the owners a meagre $50,000 (chump change in racing circles).

With odds at 100-1, Michelle Payne defied all logic and wrote herself into the history books.

Read it and weep fellers.

3. Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph

Prior to Euro 2004 Greece hadn’t won a single match at a major footballing tournament finals. How they then went on to win the tournament still evokes shakes of the head from footballing enthusiasts around the globe. Greeks themselves still can’t believe it.

The national team pulled off one of the biggest shocks in history when they beat host-nation Portugal 1-0 in the final – a game that mirrored the opening match which they also won 2-1 to send the initial shockwaves around the globe.

In the quarter-finals, Greece knocked out title-holders France before taking on and defeating the Czech Republic, who many saw as the competition’s favourites after pulling off some stunning wins in the earlier stages of the tournament.

Angelos Charisteas goal in the 57th minute of the final was enough to secure a title they were given a 150–1 chance of winning before the tournament. It’s fair to say they’ve struggled on the international stage ever since and failed to qualify for the most recent Euro Championship in France.

2. Miracle on Ice

It was a US team filled with amateurs and collegiate level athletes going up against a USSR team that had won six of the past seven gold medals in ice hockey.

Remarkably the US won the game 4-3 and went on to win the gold medal.

The win was later labelled the ‘Miracle on Ice’.

1. Leicester City stuns the world with 2015/16 Premier League Win

Leicester City entered 2015/16 season as a 5000-1 underdog. Let that sink in for a moment.

Leicester City wasn’t even in the Premier League two years ago. The club earned promotion to England’s top soccer league starting in the 2014-15 season for the first time in a decade.

On paper they shouldn’t have even finished in the top half of the table, let alone win the damn thing. The previous season saw them earn a 13 match winless streak and left them in a relegation battle which they only escaped from with six points.

The combined cost of Leicester’s probable starting XI will be £21m. To put that into context, David Silva is the eighth most expensive player in City’s side, and he cost £24m. In total, City’s team cost £292.9m to assemble.

Money talks when it comes to football and to put things into perspective, Manchester City’s squad cost around £292.9m to assemble while Leicester’s starting 11 cost a measly £21m.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal… they’re all expected to win. Not Leicester. But that’s why everyone loves an underdog story and this is truly one of the greatest of all time.


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