In 1950, the American men's soccer team wasn't much better than they are now. However, at the time, the English team was known as the "Kings of Football." Going into the 1950 World Cup match against the Americans, the English team had a post-war record of 23 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws. The Americans, on the other hand, was a lazily assembled team of part time players, most of whom were not professional. The American team had lost their previous seven internaional games by the combined score of 45-2. What did American coach Bill Jeffrey say of their chances going against England? "We have no chance," he said. His team were "sheep ready to be slaughtered." Miraculously, the Americans beat the English 1-0, scored by the U.S.'s Haitian-born centre forward Joe Gaetjens. Do you believe in miracles?
On February 9th, 1990, Mike Tyson was the undisputed heavyweight champion. He had been undefeated up to that point, and in his previous fight, earned a snarling 93-second knockout against Carl "The Truth" Williams. On February 10th, Tyson squared off against Buster Douglas, considered the #7 heavyweight at the time. Douglas went into the Tokyo showdown as a 42-1 underdog. Despite contracting the flu the day before the fight, Douglas was not afraid of Tyson and went after his left eye, rendering him all but blind. 10 rounds in, Douglas shockingly knocked Tyson out with an avalanche of punches to the head. This confounding fight is considered one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.
Man o' War is considered indisputably one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, Thoroughbred race horses in history. Racing mostly after World War I, Man o' War won both the 1920 Preakness and the Belmont stakes, which he won by a record breaking 20 lengths (he never raced in the Kentucky Derby). In total Man o' War won 20 of his 21 races, for a total of $249,465 in purses. However, at the 1919 Sanford Memorial Stakes, Man o' War suffered his only loss to the aptly named Upset, who was a 100-to-1 longshot.
For those who do not know, Aleksandr Karelin was the king of Greco-Roman wrestling in 2000, and considered possibly the best fighter in the history of the sport. Coming into the 2000 Summer Olympics, Karelin had not lost a match in 13 years, and had not even given up a point in the six years preceding the final in Sydney. In the gold medal round, Karelin was facing American Rulon Gardner. In this tough match Gardner miraculously scored a point in the second round against the tree time defending Olympic champion Karelin for the first time in six years. The American held onto the 1-0 lead for the rest of the match, and went on to win the Olympic gold medal in an amazing upset.
Coming into the 1980 Winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, New York, the Soviet Union national team was considered unstoppable. They had won the gold medal in six of the previous seven Olympics. Since 1960, the Soviet Union had gone 27–1–1 (wins-losses-ties) and outscored the opposition 175–44 in the Olympics. Three members of the 1980 Soviet team went on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Many players on their team had played together for years and were seasoned veterans of international hockey. American head coach Herb Brooks put together a team of 20 college hockey players a year before the Olympic games. The average age on the U.S. team was 21 years old. At the peak of the Cold War, the Soviets and the American were natural rivals, although the U.S. team were thought to stand virtually no chance against the Russians. With a shaky start to the Olympics, the Americans still surprised many with their physical style of play, despite being the youngest team in the tournament. The Soviets however, surprised no one with their utter domination of their opponents, beating Japan 16-0 and the Netherlands 17-4 for example in the lead up to their medal round against the U.S. In a shocking game, the United States fiercely opposed the Soviets, beating them 4-3 in perhaps the greatest upset in history. After the game, ABC Olympic sports anchor Jim McKay compared the U.S. win over the Soviets to a group of Canadian college football players beating the then-unstoppable Pittsburgh Steelers.