Underdog (competition)

Underdog (competition)

An underdog is a person or group in a competition, frequently in electoral politics, sports, and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose. The party expected to win is called the favorite or top dog. If the underdog wins, the event is known as an upset. These terms are commonly used in sports betting.Or|date=August 2008

ympathy for the underdog

In a more broad sense, "underdog" is used in reference to a social or ethnic group which suffers from discrimination, persecution and/or economic disability and which therefore gains the sympathy of public opinion, either nationally or world-wide. Such sympathy has often proved of crucial importance in the struggles of national liberation, civil rights and social justice movements, and such movements sometimes significantly modify their tactics and strategy in order to gain "underdog sympathy".

The definition of a particular group as an underdog or an overdog may change considerably with time and circumstances. During the Boer War, the Afrikaners were widely perceived as the underdogs, a small people bravely defying the might of the British Empire (see Opposition to the Second Boer War). In the time of Apartheid, the Afrikaners came to be regarded as cruel racist oppressors, with the South African Blacks being the underdogs. Similarly, in its earlier stages the Zionist movement was widely regarded in the West as representing an underdog, as Jews were the target of persecution, and later of Nazi genocide. The creation of Israel in 1948 was widely regarded as a victory for this underdog. However, Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along with the increasing visibility of the displaced Palestinians through the activities of Palestinian nationalist groups such as the PLO, has increased awareness and sympathy for the Palestinians. The governments of both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority have sought to portray themselves to the rest of the world as victims, and thus underdogs, the former by emphasising attacks on Israel launched by groups such as Hamas and other allied Arab groups such as Hizbollah, the latter by highlighting the actions taken against military and civilian targets in the occupied territories by the Israel Defense Forces.

The depiction of a conflict in the mass media, especially on TV, greatly influences who would be seen as its underdog and overdog. Consequently, participants in various conflicts often accuse the international media of ignoring or underplaying the sufferings of their own side, while inflating those of their opponents.

Victorious underdogs


*King Sudas defeated the ten Rigvedic tribes during the Battle of the Ten Kings
*The Greek states successfully repelled the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire at the Battle of Salamis
*The people of Rhodes in resisting the siege imposed by King Demetrius I of Macedon
*Hannibal defeated the numerically superior Roman forces at the Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War
*The Parthians, who were outnumbered four to one, defeated the Romans at the Battle of Carrhae
*Khalid ibn al-Walid defeated the numerically superior forces of the powerful Persian and Roman empires during the conquest of Persia and conquest of Roman Syria
*The Scottish army of Robert the Bruce, outnumbered almost three to one by the English force of Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn.
*The Knights Hospitaller against the overwhelming Ottoman forces during the Great Siege of Malta
*In the 13th century, invasions from the powerful Mongol Empire were successfully repelled by the Khilji dynasty of India and Bahri dynasty of Egypt
*In the 1552 siege of Eger, 2,100 Hungarians were able to withstand the onslaught of 80,000 Ottoman soldiers.
*The defending British fleet was victorious over the "invincible" Spanish Armada in June 1588
*The less-organized Patriots of the American Revolutionary War defeated the colonial British forces to gain the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, which would then be named the United States of America.
*Finland held out against the Soviet Union during the Winter War
*The Viet Minh triumphed over French colonial forces in the Indochina War and the NLF and North Vietnam defeated the United States and South Vietnam in the Vietnam War
*Afghanistan successfully repelled an invasion by the USSR during the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s

American politics

*U.S. President Harry Truman in the 1948 presidential election
*Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in 1990
*Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold in 1992
*Tennessee Senator Bill Frist in 1994
*Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura in 1998


*In 1935, boxer James J. Braddock (Cinderella Man) defeated heavyweight champion Max Baer as the 10-to-1 underdog in a major upset.
*On July 16, 1950, during the 1950 FIFA World Cup final in Brazil, Uruguay defeated the highest ranked team in the world and seemingly certain winners, Brazil, 2-1 to win the tournament in one of the greatest upsets ever in Brazilian football history. Another upset in the tournament was the USA victory over highly ranked England, 1-0.
*In the 1954 FIFA World Cup, Germany defeated Hungary 3-2 from 2-0 down to win the final. The amazing upset is called the "Miracle of Bern". Hungary's Golden Team had dominated the sport for several years in the 1950s, including beating the Germans 8-3 in the first round of the tournament. The final was their first and only defeat during that period.
*In Super Bowl III, the New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7 after giving a "guarantee" to do so.
*In the 1964 Ali versus Liston and 1974 Rumble in the Jungle fights, boxer Muhammad Ali was expected to lose against Sonny Liston and George Foreman respectively, who were both formerly undefeated hard-punching heavyweight champions. Ali defeated them in major upsets. In 1975, underdog Chuck Wepner almost went the distance with Ali, which was later the main inspiration for the fictional character of Rocky Balboa in the films "Rocky" (1976) and "Rocky II" (1979).
*In 1969 the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles were defeated by the New York Mets in five games.
*Billy Mills's upset in the men's 10,000 meter event at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
*In 1972, non-league football club Hereford United defeated hugely favoured top flight professional club Newcastle United in the FA Cup Third Round replay.
*In 1978, Irish rugby union team, Munster Rugby, defeated the All Blacks 12 points to nil. The game was later turned into a stage play, "Alone it Stands".
*In 1980, the United States hockey team consisting of amateurs and college players defeated the Olympic hockey superpower, the Soviet Union. The amazing upset was called the "Miracle on Ice".
*On July 5, 1982, during the 1982 FIFA World Cup group 2nd stage in Barcelona, Spain, Italy defeated the still unbeaten - and favoured for the final win - Brazilian team 3-2. Eventually Italy beat Poland in semi-final and West Germany in final and won their 3rd FIFA World Cup.
* In 1985, 8th seeded Villanova defeated top-seeded and defending champion Georgetown in the championship game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
*Boxer James "Buster" Douglas, given odds of 42-to-1 by one Las Vegas sports book, handed the previously-undefeated Mike Tyson his first ever professional defeat in Tokyo, Japan on February 11, 1990
*Derrike Cope, who had never won a Winston Cup race, won the 1990 Daytona 500 after Dale Earnhardt blew a tire on the last lap.
*Arie Luyendyk, who had never won an IndyCar race, won the 1990 Indianapolis 500 after polesitter, and heavy favorite Emerson Fittipaldi, and later Bobby Rahal, suffered tire blistering.
*In the 1992 European Football Championship in Sweden, Denmark, which entered as a reserve team because of the Yugoslav Wars, won the tournament.
*Wendell Suckow's surprising gold medal in men's singles luge for the United States at the 1993 FIL World Luge Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
*In 1994, the Denver Nuggets (42-40; 8 seed) beat the Seattle SuperSonics (64-18; 1 seed) in the first round of the playoffs.
*In 1998, the wild card Denver Broncos, 0-4 in previous Super Bowl trips, knocked off the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII. The Broncos were the first American Football Conference team to win the Super Bowl since 1984 and the first wild card team to win it since 1981.
*In 2000, wrestler Rulon Gardner defeated Alexander Karelin of Russia in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Karelin had been undefeated for thirteen years, and had not given up a point in six years, prior to his loss in the gold medal match to Gardner.
*In 2001, Goran Ivanišević won the men's singles title at Wimbledon as a wildcard. He is the first and only person having done so.
*In 2002, the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI. In retrospect this seems less an underdog story because the Patriots went on to dominate the NFL for 3 more years, but at the time the Rams were favored by 14 points, making it the second largest upset in Super Bowl history.
*In the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Belarus won, 4-3, over the favourite team from Sweden in the men's ice hockey competition.
*In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Senegal defeated the 1998 World Cup winner France during the opening game much to everybody shock and surprise. Also South Korea won a 4th place, their current best result. Also, the Americans posted their best cup performance in modern history by shockingly defeating the Mexicans and giving Germany, the eventual runners-up a run for their money.
*In the Euro 2004 football competition, Greece, which some sports books gave 150-1 odds to win at the start of the tournament, defeated the hosts Portugal in their opening match, the defending champions France, favourites Czech Republic in the semifinals, and Portugal again in the final to win the trophy in the most unexpected victory of football history.
*In 2004, the Boston Red Sox were down three games to none against the favored New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and the Red Sox won four games in a row to defeat the Yankees four games to three, en route winning their first World Series title in eighty-six years.
*In the 2004 Copa Libertadores, Once Caldas won the title against all the odds, beating Santos, São Paulo and finally the defending champions Boca Juniors in the penalty shootout.
* In the 2004 French Open, Gastón Gaudio was two sets down against pre-tournament favourite Guillermo Coria, but the entire match suddenly turned on its head and Gaudio struggled to the title, saving two match points in the fifth set.
*In the 2004 Summer Olympics tennis competition, Tomas Berdych beat no. 1 seed Roger Federer, and Nicolas Massú won the gold medal, hours after the doubles final.
*In 2005, world cricket champions Australia were beaten by underdogs Bangladesh in a one day cricket match at Cardiff, Wales, thanks to an even 100 by 20 year old Mohammad Ashraful. Of Bangladesh's previous 108 games, it was only their tenth win.
*In 2006, the 6th-seeded wild card Pittsburgh Steelers upset the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts, 21-18 in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game, becoming the NFL's first 6th seed ever to advance to a conference championship game. The Steelers would make more history that postseason by going on to win Super Bowl XL, becoming the first team since the AFL-NFL merger to win a Super Bowl without playing any home playoff games.
*In 2006, the George Mason Patriots made it to the Final Four in the NCAA Men's Tournament by defeating Michigan State Spartans, the defending champs North Carolina Tar Heels, Wichita State and the top-seeded Connecticut Huskies.
*In the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, the underdog from the Western Athletic Conference, Boise State, upset Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma 43-42 using a hook and lateral play to tie the game near the end of regulation, a touchdown on a halfback option pass on 4th down and goal to close within one point in overtime, and the winning two-point conversion on a Statue of Liberty play.
*In 2007, the 8th seeded Golden State Warriors upset the 1st seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs.
*In the 2007 Cricket World Cup, the unseeded and rank outsiders Ireland upset the 4th seeded Pakistan in the first round of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
*Also in the 2007 Cricket World Cup, Bangladesh beat 2003 World Cup finalists India in another major upset, leading to India being eliminated and Bangladesh making it through to the Super 8 for the first time. Bangladesh caused another major upset at the 2007 World Cup by beating the world's highest ranked team, South Africa.
*In the 2007 Cricket Twenty20 World Cup, India beat 2003 Cricket World Cup Champions Australia in the Semi-Finals, to go on to win the Finals against Pakistan. This was a major upset as India was at an all-time low, not even having qualified for the Super 8 stage of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
*In 2007, Division I FCS Appalachian State beat Michigan, the #5-ranked team in the top-level Division I FBS, 34-32 in Michigan's season opener. Michigan is the first AP Top 25 team from the FBS to lose to a team in the FCS. Michigan dropped out of the top 25 after the loss.
* Also in 2007, the unranked Stanford Cardinal, a 41-point underdog, beat the #2 USC Trojans 24-23 in week 6. This win ultimately cost USC, the preseason national champion favorite, a chance to play for the national title; it had to settle for the Rose Bowl instead.
* Also in 2007, the unranked Pittsburgh Panthers, a 28-point underdog on the road, upset the West Virginia Mountaineers 13-9, ruining West Virginia's hopes of a BCS title game berth. They wound up settling for a berth in the Fiesta Bowl, in which they pulled an upset of their own, pounding the Oklahoma Sooners, 48-28.
* FA Cup 2007-08 second division's Barnsley produced two huge shocks, first eliminating Liverpool in the fifth round at Anfield with a 2-1 score, and then in quarterfinals, they defeated Chelsea 1-0. However, they lost in the semifinals at the hands of Cardiff City
* FC Zenit Saint Petersburg were the shock winners of 2007-2008 UEFA Cup, eliminating the great favourites, Bayern Munchen, in the semifinal. They also knocked out other top-flight teams such as Villareal, Bayer Leverkusen and Marseille, and won after a 2-0 win against Rangers in the final. They also won the UEFA Super Cup by defeating European champions Manchester United.
* In 2008, the Fresno State Bulldogs won the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship after starting out as a regional 4 seed—equivalent to at best a #13 seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. During the tournament, the Bulldogs survived elimination 5 times and beat 4 nationally-seeded teams: No. 3 Arizona State, No. 6 Rice, No. 2 North Carolina, and No. 8 Georgia. Fresno State became the lowest-seeded team (in any sport) to win an NCAA title.
* At the Euro 2008 football tournament, Russia were deemed as the underdogs by some pundits because on average the team was one of the youngest in the tournament, somewhat inexperienced in the international scene and none of them played for the top few European leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga or Serie A. However they managed to defeat an experienced Swedish side boasting top stars such as Larsson, Ibrahimović and Ljungberg, defending champions Greece and overran the highly-rated Dutch side 3-1 before bowing out to Spain in the semifinals.
* In 2008 Hull City AFC came from 1-0 behind and defeated Arsenal 2-1 on their own ground, The Emirates. In doing so they became the only other team apart from West Ham to win a league match at the stadium. [http://www.arsenal.com/fixtures/fixtures-reports?season=2006-2007&x=21&y=3] [http://www.arsenal.com/fixtures/fixtures-reports?season=2007-2008&x=21&y=3]

See also


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