10 of the Most Famous Sporting Moments in History

10 of the Most Famous Sporting Moments in History

Sports are popular for a good reason. 

From impressive displays of unmatched skills to underdog champions, and dramatic title fights and wins, there have been plenty of memorable moments in sports history. 

Here are our picks for the famous sporting moments. 

Top 10 Famous Sporting Moments

The Serena Slam (2002-2003)

Williams is one of the greatest athletes and tennis players of all time. She won her first Grand Slam win at 17 in the 1999 U.S and holds the most combined major titles in mixed doubles, doubles, and singles among active players.

Williams’s most popular accomplishment in her long career in tennis is what has come to be known as the “Serena Slam.” Namely, the tennis star was dominant at the start of the 2000s and won all four major singles, including the US Open, Australia Open, French Open, and Wimbledon across two seasons in 2002 and 2003.

Rumble in the Jungle (1974)

The match between one of the best boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali’, and George Forman, known as “Rumble in the jungle,” was arguably one of the greatest sporting moments of the 20th century. 

On October 30, 1974, at the 20th of May Stadium in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a dethroned Ali reclaimed his title from the undisputed and undefeated heavyweight champion. He took back his crown in eight rounds with a TKO victory after the boxing commission stripped him of his title over accusations of draft dodging. 

Ali was the underdog in the match and his victory was a major upset– certainly one for the books. The match is also popular for Ali’s introduction to the rope-a-dope tactic.

Simone Biles’ Historic Year (2019)

Although one of Simone Biles’ most famous sporting moments was when she shocked the world at the Rio 2016 Olympics, her first Olympics, and won gold medals, 2019 proved to be a better year for her. 

In 2018, Biles won all five events at the US national championships to become the competition’s most decorated athlete in world championships history. The next year, she became the first gymnast to win five gold medals in more than six decades and became the athlete with the most world championship medals. 

Brandi Chastain’s Winning Kick (1999)

At the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, Brandi Chastain delivered the fifth kick in a penalty shootout against China that gave the United States team the championship. 

Not only was the victory a watershed moment for US fans, but her kick was iconic because she used her left foot rather than her right to score the goal at the advice of her coach to make things harder for the Chinese goalkeeper.

What made headlines, however, was her reaction. After the ball hit the net, Chastain removed her jersey and fell to her knees in a sports bra. Though this has often caused yellow card caution at games, the photograph of her celebration is widely considered to be one of the most famous images of a woman celebrating athletic victory.

Jackie Robinson’s Barrier-breaking Debut (1947)

Robinson is the first African-American player to play in Major League Baseball and his number, 42, was later retired in honour of his career – the first number to be retired by all teams in the league

On April 15th, 1947, Jackie Robinson made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in front of a crowd of over 26,000 fans, which marked the beginning of the end of the colour barrier in baseball. 

Throughout his career, Robinson faced racial discrimination from some fans and fellow players. What’s more, he was not allowed to stay at the same hotels as his colleagues in the South, due to Jim Crow laws.

Jesse Owens Domination (1936)

At the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, American track and field athlete Jesse Owens dominated the competition and to this day he is still known as one of the fastest athletes in sports history. Jesse Owens won gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres, long jump, and was a member of the gold medal-winning American quartet that won the 4×100 metre relay.

What made his accomplishments historic was the timing. The Olympics took place on the brink of World War II amid a Nazi regime in the capital of Germany that promoted the concept of “Aryan racial superiority.”

Owens’ accomplishments proved them wrong.

FloJo Sprints to the Win (1988)

Florence Griffith Joyner was arguably known for her unique style –  long, painted fingernails and outrageous outfits, as much as she was known for her athletic achievements. 

That was the case until 1988. 

That year, at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games, Joyner won three gold medals. Her greatest achievement was in the 100m race. Joyner broke the 100m world record with an unheard time of 10.49 seconds, which was almost three-tenths faster than the previous world record. 

So far, no competitor has come close to that time and Joyner remains the “world’s fastest woman.”

Michael Jordan’s Last Shot (1998)

At the end of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, on June 14th of 1998, Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were trailing the Utah Jazz by one point.

With 10 seconds left on the clock, Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone, went straight by Bryon Russell, pulled up, and hit a game-winning 2-point jump shot.

Jordan’s “Last Shot,” one of the greatest shots in the history of basketball, gave the Bulls an 87-86 lead.

It was yet another iconic moment in the career of one of the best coaches in NBA history, Phil Jackson, as well as the Bulls dynasty that gave a storybook ending to the Chicago Bulls fans amid rumours that Jordan is planning to retire. 

Miracle on Ice (1980)

One of the most famous moments in the history of sports took place in 1980 when an underdog team snatched the victory from one of the most popular team’s hands.

On February 22, 1980, the U.S. hockey team, which was made up of college players, played against the Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.

The Soviet team, the defending champions that had won gold in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976, lost the game to the UN team in one of the most dramatic upsets in the history of the Olympics games.

What’s more, the US squad went on to defeat Finland, proving that they weren’t a regular amateur team at the games. 

Billie Jean King is the winner of the Battle of the Sexes (1973)

Billie Jean King’s historic win could be one of the most iconic sports moments of all time. King, then a top player in women’s tennis, beats Bobby Riggs in a highly anticipated and highly-publicised tennis match known as the “Battle of the Sexes.”

Riggs, a self-proclaimed chauvinist and former No.1 ranked male tennis player, claimed that women were inferior and couldn’t handle the pressure of competition, and had claimed that he could defeat any female player.

The duel was a major media event that attracted more than 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and another 50 million television viewers around the world. King’s success not only helped legitimise women’s professional tennis and female athletes but was also seen as a triumph for all women’s rights.

Bottom Line

Sports events are a testament to the power of human grit and determination. More importantly, they produce famous sporting moments that bring people and nations together. Whether it’s seemingly impossible wins or triumphs that rallied a nation, sports never disappoint–even in the most unlikely times. 

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