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The Biggest Surprises in Sports History

  • The victory of Leicester or Greece was a big surprise in football
  • Also the defeat of Mike Tyson or 3-time Olympic champion wrestler
  • Miracle on Ice was the biggest surprise in sports history
Miracle on Ice, 1980 Winter Olympics
Image source Henry Zbyszynski [CC BY]

From time to time surprise wins can happen in the world of sports from the most famous team sports, like football or NFL to individual sports like boxing or tennis. It looks like the saying: “Everyone can have a bad day” is true for even the biggest athletes and the best teams. Find below the biggest surprises in sports history. 

Last night, both Spanish giants, Real Madrid, and FC Barcelona lost against their weaker opponents in the Spanish Cup and went out of the competition. But similar or even bigger upsets have already happened before during world events or important occasions. Surely no one thought that Greece could win the European Championship, or Leicester the Premier League. But the win of  Bianca Andreescu against Serena Williams or Nadal’s defeat at the French Open final in 2009 were all surprising events. 

Leicester winning the Premier League is in the biggest surprises in sports history

Honestly, at the beginning of the 2015/16 season, even the most hardcore Leicester fans wouldn’t have dreamt that their team could win the Premier League. After almost being relegated in the previous season, the team’s odds to win the top English league were 5000 to 1. But they contradicted everyone and were superb all season. In the end, they finished 10 points ahead of second-place Arsenal. As online sportsbooks in the UK were reporting Leicester’s victory resulted in the largest payout in British sporting history with total winnings of £25 million. The Foxes are doing great again this season. Though they are not likely to win but can finish in the top four. The odds for that are 1.07 on bet365

Another big surprise in football history happened in the 2004 European Championship. Before the tournament, Greece was an outsider and even qualifying from their group seemed a tough job. But they managed to go through and knocked out the reigning champions, France in the quarter-finals. Then they defeated the Czech Republic and finally the Portuguese team in the final. They’ve achieved their best result by far and caused a great shock to every football fan. 

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Leicester City, Premier League Champions 2015/16 Image source

Big upsets in the US

Big surprises happened in Super Bowls as well. In 2008 New York Giants managed to win against the undefeated New England Patriots. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14 with a fantastic Manning to Tyree pass in the last minutes. Before the game,  the New York team was the underdogs with 12 points, which made their victory even bigger. In another Super Bowl though New England Patriots caused a surprise with their win against St. Louis Rams, which was the best offensive team. But a player called Tom Brady got the chance to play and shine which resulted in a great victory and the start of a great career. 

But similar surprise wins happened in other American sports too. In the NHL the New Jersey Devil won the Stanley Cup against big favorite Detroit Red Wings in 1995. They were an only fifth seed and struggled during the season, but the final was an easy win with 4-0. In baseball, in 1969, the New York Mets first won the new National East League title then the World Series against heavily favored Orioles. If you love American sports, you can make a bet on any of the games on bet365

David defeats Goliath

Not just teams could suffer unexpected defeats though, but great individual athletes too. Like it happened with the great Mike Tyson who was an unbeaten and undisputed heavyweight champion. But in 1990 in Tokyo, he met with Buster Douglas, the 42-1 underdog. Douglas was standing his beats and knocked him out in the 10th round for everyone’s shock. While Tyson lost all his titles with his defeat, Douglas became famous. Even though he lost his next fight against Evander Holyfield and retired shortly after. 

In the sport of wrestling, another American athlete, Rulon Gardner managed to cause one of the biggest surprises in sports history. He defeated Russian legend Alexander Karelin, who was undefeated for 15 years. Karelin has won every world championships, and three previous Olympics, so his meeting with Gardner in the final of the 2000 Olympic Games just looked like a formality. But the American stood strong and fended off all of the Russian’s attacks, and won the game 1-0. 

biggest surprises in sports history, Leicester, Premier League, football, Greek Football team, Mike Tyson, boxing, wrestling, ice hockey, Wimbledon, online sportsbooks, online gambling Rulon Gardner won a bronze in the 2004 Olympics after his gold in Sydney
[U.S. Army [CC BY]

Surprise wins in the world of tennis

Though tennis is quite calculable, and your bets on bet365 can win you some money, sometimes less known players can go long in a tournament or even reach a final. And very rarely they can even beat the bigger names as it happened with the king of clay, Rafael Nadal in the 2009 semi-final of the Roland Garros. Before this game he’s won the French Open in the previous four years, so no one saw that coming, that a relatively unknown player, Robin Soderling can beat him. But that’s exactly what happened, the Swede won in four sets and got into his first Grand Slam final. He lost it though against Roger Federer who has the odds of 26.00 to win the next French Open. 

Online gambling sites in the UK were reporting about surprise wins that happened in Wimbledon with other great tennis players. Pete Sampras dominated in Wimbledon, and he only lost one game between 1993 and 2000. The one against Richard Krajicek in a quarter-final in 1996. The Croatian wasn’t even seeded originally, but he won against Sampras quite easily in the two-day long match. And after most of the high-seeded players, like Agassi, Beckam, and Ivanisevic were eliminated before, he didn’t miss this great chance and won the whole tournament. 

The Miracle on Ice

Probably the winner of this list of the biggest surprises in sports history is the so-called Miracle on Ice. The game where the United States men’s ice hockey team defeated the Soviet team at the 1980’s Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. The American team consisted of amateurs and college players in contrast with the Soviets who have the best players in their team. They won five from the last six Olympic finals, they were absolutely dominating the sport. Still, on their game, the young American team managed to beat them 4-3 and went on to win the gold medal. Commentator Al Michaels declared after the victory that he believes in miracles now, and the name of the game was born. 

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