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TOYS AND GAMES: Top Five Upsets

Serena Williams’ loss to Roberta Vinci last week reaffirms why you have to play the games. Anything can happen.

The way sports are reported these days, the notion that the favorite always wins gets perpetuated weekly, daily, hourly right up until the games, matches, etc., are played and we find out that some of these world beaters were not quite as mighty as built up to be.

However, there have been favorites that deserved to be decided favorites and the teams/individuals they lost to were indeed heavy underdogs.

A friend recently asked me to compose my list of top 10 upsets. I quickly scribbled out 10 then went back and narrowed my list to five that defied logic. Here’s what I came up with:

1. USA defeats USSR Hockey in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

2. USA Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner defeats Soviet heavyweight Alexander Karelin in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

3. Buster Douglas defeats Mike Tyson in 1990 for the heavyweight title.

4. Larry Owings beats undefeated, three-time champion Dan Gable at the 1970 NCAA wrestling tournament.

5. Soviet Union wins controversial gold over U.S. basketball team at 1972 Olympics.

Rulon_Gardner Rulon Gardner

You might view my list as quirky, particularly since I have two wrestlers on the list, but Gable had an amazing run through college while wrestling for the Iowa State before losing in the finals of the NCAA Tournament to a sophomore from the University of Washington, and Karelin had been undefeated in 13 years of international wrestling — a real-life Ivan Drago.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union defeated the previously undefeated U.S.A. basketball team — commies beat capitalist at their own game. Then the capitalist reversed the tables by beating the commies at their game.

Finally, when Douglas defeated Tyson for the championship, Tyson appeared unbeatable, dangerous, and talented.

Plenty of other upsets have taken place, those are just the ones that resonate with me. I’d love to hear your list.

bchastain19@gmail.com

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Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bobby Ross. The former college and pro football coach led Georgia Tech to a share of the national championship in 1990 and later led the San Diego Chargers

©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography