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3 Stories of Sports Underdogs Who Broke Through

While most famous athletes have had a relatively consistent career with a steady rise to success, exceptions exist. Sometimes, one’s story can be full of ups and downs. In other cases, it’s bright and short-lived and followed by a massive downfall. But these aren’t the ones we will focus on in this article. We won’t provide overall betting odds and tips either; there are better resources for that, such as Bet Guide.

Our text will describe examples of underdogs that managed to rise to success despite all of the odds. We will provide examples where the winner isn’t the one that is easy to predict, making for a perfect underdog story.

The Athletes and Games

Below are the names of athletes and teams that managed to break through despite being underdogs earlier in a particular game. We will cover different sports: soccer, boxing, and ice hockey. The stories aren’t exactly similar, although you may find some common themes in them. But life can be quite unpredictable, so we hope you enjoy reading it. 

Douglas vs. Tyson (1990), Boxing

The fight occurred in Tokyo Dome in 1990 and became a definition of boxing underdog stories. Mike Tyson was an undefeated and undisputed heavyweight champion at the time. While far from nobody, Buster Douglas had mixed success and wasn’t in his best shape. Everyone considered him an underdog with the odds of 42:1.

Little did they know, Douglas totally dominated the fight. He managed to land quite a few punches early in the match and was the main force during the middle rounds. Tyson wasn’t in his worst shape either and even tried to be reasonably competent, especially towards the end, but he still accumulated way too much damage. The game ended with Douglas knocking Tyson down in the tenth round. It was the first knockdown Tyson experienced in his career.

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In the end, Douglas won over a million USD, while Tyson received six million despite losing. Douglase’s career wasn’t long-lived after. The rematch never happened. Douglas tried to defend his title against Evander Holyfield but was quickly knocked down. He retired after that, although he had a minor comeback in the late 1990s before finishing his career for good.

Leicester City F.C. Winning Premier League 2015-16, Soccer

This is both a shocking and atypical underdog story. First things first, it includes the whole season instead of one match. Before the season started, Leicester was the 5000:1 underdog. Yes, you read those odds right. The chances were meager, but the team scored first place in the Premier League and moved into the UEFA Champions League the following season.

Such a win was pretty much a phenomenon that affected many things in the betting market, such as 5000:1 odds becoming a rarity. It also made Leicester a more serious team that’s seriously treated in the world of British soccer, although we can’t say that it skyrocketed its level.

The USA vs. USSR, 1980 Olympics, Ice Hockey

Essentially dubbed the “Miracle on Ice,” this is one of the most famous games in the history of hockey. It even has a movie and plenty of books documenting an event. The Soviet team was quite powerful then, managing to decimate the NHL All-Stars just sometime before that, and had not lost a game in the Winter Olympics since 1968.

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On the other hand, the American team was largely unprofessional, consisting of college-age players with only one having previous Olympic experience. The team was coached by Herb Brooks, who had a good tactic and knew the capabilities and limits of every player.

The first period started with Americans behind, but they quickly overcame this. After several goals and heated battles, it ended with a 2:2 draw. The second period included several replacements and was overall less active. The Soviet team managed to score one, so it ended with 3:2 with the USSR team leading.

The third period was quite active. It started with the Americans delivering two goals within the first ten minutes. After that, the game featured dynamic offenses from both sides, but the U.S. team stood their ground. The Soviets didn’t score anything during the game, so essentially, the match’s final result was 4:3, with the American team winning.

The win didn’t result in the American team receiving a gold medal. To do so, they had to beat the Finnish team later, which they successfully did. The “Miracle on Ice” was probably the leading sports event in 1980, so everyone in the U.S. knew about the victory. The players on the team later went on to have successful NHL careers.

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Americans and Soviets played again in the Winter Olympics in 1988 in Canada. Similarly, the American team mainly consisted of college-age players, while the USSR team featured many professionals. The game ended with the Soviets winning 7:5. 


While a triumphant underdog story isn’t a common thing, it still happens once in a while. And when they do, the show is pretty much worth it, regardless of your side. Our article provided some impressive examples that prove that the underdogs can win even when the chances are as low as they get.

While we provided detailed descriptions, we still recommend watching “Miracle on Ice” and Douglas vs. Tyson. The Premier League would be a longer watch since, in this case, the underdog victory resulted from many games throughout the season. Although you can still check out some of the matches to understand how good Leicester’s level of play was then, it was the first time this club, in its history that’s well longer than a hundred years, managed to win the Premier League.

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