Five of the Biggest Sports Upsets of All Time


It is well known that the favorites usually win the championships. There is a reason that they are the favorites, after all. But it is when the underdog comes through to surprise everyone, that is when sporting memories are made.

It is not a wise strategy to put your money on the underdog at a betting site. But the following examples will give every fan with romantic ideas about their sport hope that it isn’t always the big guys that end up winning. Here are five of the biggest sporting upsets of all time.

Miracle on Ice

In 1980 the Soviet Union hockey team was regarded as just about as good as it got. It had won five golds in the previous six Olympics and was a heavy favorite to go to Lake Placid in the US to win another. The team consisted of players with huge experience at international level.

The US team, by comparison, was the youngest ever in the history of the games and mostly amateur, with only four with any experience of even minor league hockey. Incredibly the US won the first game in the medal round 4-3 and went on to take the gold medal.

Mike Tyson KO’d

In 1990 Mike Tyson was considered the most fearsome, explosive boxer on the planet. He had a perfect 37-0 record and his upcoming fight against Buster Douglas was thought to be just a gentle warm-up for a future clash with Evander Holyfield. But it became the setting for the biggest upset in the history of boxing.

Douglas came into the fight a 42/1 underdog – huge odds for an event where only one of two can win. But, after a good start, Douglas grew in confidence as Tyson failed to get going at all. Douglas was leading on points anyway, but the knockout in the tenth round stunned Tyson – and the watching world.

Leicester Stuns the EPL

There have always been the big, successful soccer teams in the top leagues in the world. Even before the advent of the money game we know today, they ended up winning the most championships. There was sometimes a smaller club that came through – but that just doesn’t happen these days. Or does it?

At the beginning of the 2015/16 season, Leicester City was hoping to consolidate on staying up the year before and hopefully finish mid-table. Title odds of 5,000/1 were mostly put down to novelty bets. But the Foxes dominated the season with a wonderful counter-attacking style of play and won the league with games to spare.

Messi Misery

Messi Misery

Most of the time we have to consult the history books to find big sporting upsets, especially at the highest level of the game. But for this shock result we only have to go back a few months to the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar. Argentina came into the tournament as one of the big favorites, with Lionel Messi rumored to have decided that it was to be his last ever World Cup.

A relatively straightforward looking group stage seemed to back up the theory of Argentina doing well. But Saudi Arabia, a relative minnow of world soccer, obviously hadn’t read the script. Messi even scored the opener but Saudi Arabia shocked the world by winning 2-1. Argentina did have the last laugh though – winning the tournament and rounding off Lionel Messi’s incredible international career.

A Namath Guarantee

Let’s go back a little further for our last big sporting upset. Giants fans may consider their team’s Super Bowl victory over Tom Brady’s Patriots in 2007 as the biggest football shock ever. But we think it was the other team from the city that can really claim that honor.

The Baltimore Colts had only lost one game on its way to Super Bowl III but New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath guaranteed that he would lead his team to glory. The bookies disagreed and made the Jets a 19.5-point underdog. Cue the biggest Super Bowl surprise score and a 16-7 New York win. Sometimes you just have to back the underdog.

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