5 Underdogs In Professional Sports Who Accomplished Great Things

Photo by Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock (3038126a) James (Buster) Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson 10/02/1990 Tokyo

The sporting underdog rarely picks up the glory. You may sympathize with the guy that always loses, but you don’t really expect them to pick up the prize. That’s what makes these five stories so heartwarming—they’re the times that the little guy fought back and won.

NFL’s Unlikely Linesman, Michael Oher

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That Michael Oher managed to get a job is something of a miracle. His upbringing would normally have suggested an unhappy ending for a man like him; his father was delinquent and his mother an abusive junkie.

Somehow, his foster family the Tuohys managed to turn him around—and what a turn around it was. He was the 23rd pick in 2009’s NFL draft and he went on to build a career with the Baltimore Ravens. You rarely see anyone come from so far behind to end up so far ahead.

Goran Ivanisevic, A Tennis Hero

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Goran Ivanisevic’s tennis career was considered over in 2000 when he skipped a whole season because he’d damaged his shoulder during play.

In 2001, he only qualified for Wimbledon as a wildcard entry. He was considered to be the 125th ranking tennis player that year—a nobody with no real potential. His wildcard came from the fact that he had been a tournament runner up in his heyday.

He then shocked the world by winning the tournament, beating the world’s top players and picking up the only Grand Slam win of his career.

Jeremy Lin Basketball’s Battler

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Jeremy Lin was the guy who proved that Asian-Americans can do basketball. Linsanity was the term coined to describe the rapturous reception that Jeremy Lin received every time he hit the courts during 2012.

He was the first ever basketball player in the NBA to smash down 20 points and seven assists in each of the first five games he played. The New York Knicks had themselves an amazing signing and American basketball had its first Asian hero.

Tom Brady, Quite A Quarterback

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When you’re the 199th draft pick of your year, you’re not really expected to go on to great things. In fact, you’ve flown so far under the radar that nobody expects anything but a crash landing from you.

It wasn’t until 2011, 11 years after his draft, that Tom finally got the chance to show his talents to the world—and what talents they were. He now has four Superbowls under his belt, a Lombardi Trophy, three Superbowl MVP titles, and buckets of other achievements.

It might be arguable as to whether Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, but it would be hard to debate his status as the greatest underdog comeback in the league.

Buster Douglas Beats Boxing Odds

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When your opponent in the ring is the world famous (infamous?) Mike Tyson, most people would be preparing themselves for their own funeral. James “Buster” Douglas wasn’t most people, though. He stepped into the ring, stepped up to Tyson, and then knocked him out. It was perhaps the biggest upset in boxing history.

Sure, Douglas would lose his title to Evander Holyfield shortly afterward—but it was his title to lose for a few glorious months.