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5th May 2022 - By: Sam Wright

The Best Underdog Stories Of Recent Times

Underdog stories in sport

If you’re a sports fan and haven’t heard the name Ellis Cross over the past couple of days, then where have you been? On Monday, at the Vitality London 10,000, Ellis, an amateur runner from Aldershot, delivered a true underdog story by beating none other than two-time Olympic Gold Medallist, Sir Mo Farah. This in itself is simply unbelievable, but when you take in to account the 26-year-old had to pay a £37 fee to even enter the race, it’s all the more incredible.

As you well know by now, we’re sport mad here at Nifty so once we heard about Ellis and his amazing achievement it got us thinking about some of the greatest sporting underdog stories of (fairly) recent times. Here’s some of our favourites:

Leicester City

Being a football fanatic myself, how could I not start with Leicester City? The 2015/16 Premier League season belonged to them as they were somehow crowned Champions. Having just avoided relegation the previous season, the bookmakers had the Foxes at 5000/1 to win the league, and rightly so, no one gave them a chance. Not only that, the craziest thing about this achievement was how they did it. They only lost three games all season and went on to finish 10 points ahead of second placed Arsenal!

Holly Holm

When Holly Holm was pitted against the ferocious Ronda Rousey in UFC 193 people were genuinely worried for her. Rousey had had dominated her last three fights, winning them in 34, 16, and 14 seconds, and positioning her as heavy favourite against Holm. But as we’ve already learnt, the word ‘favourite’ can mean very little in sport and so it proved, as Holm’s KO’d Ronda with brutal second round head kick which was felt around the world.

Greece National Football Team

Greece entered Euro 2004 just happy to be there. It had been a long 24 years since the country had been represented at the tournament so anything else was a bonus. The Greeks would have surely taken a few goals as it would have given their adoring fans something to cheer about. However, what would follow would go down in sporting history as they lifted the trophy. On the way to success, they defeated a much-feared French team in the quarter finals before the dispatching of the Czech Republic and Portugal respectively. Unbelievable scenes!

Emma Raducanu

You’ll probably know the name Emma Raducanu by know, but the chances are you didn’t at this time last year. This is before she wrote her name into the history books by becoming the first qualifier to ever win a major tournament, and here’s the best part – SHE DID IT WITHOUT DROPPING A SINGLE SET. Raducanu, who was 18 at the time of her triumph, even managed to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the first set against Belinda Bencic who had won 13 of her previous 14 matches.

Don’t we all just love a sporting underdog story?! The opportunity to upset all the odds and compete alongside the big names is what makes it all so special, and the dream of doing so is what keeps us watching and taking part in our favourite sports. Many of us at Nifty HQ are fans of lower league football teams, and the hope of one day competing above our current station, and memories of when we’ve done so in the past, is what we cling on to. I had to show restraint from finding a way to somehow worm my beloved Birmingham City’s 2011 League Cup triumph into this list!