From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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.
The origin of the word "underdog" comes from naval shipbuilding when the planks of wood were sawn for their construction. The logs of wood were placed over a pit on planks of wood called "dogs" (a bit like fire dogs). The senior sawsman stood on top of the plank and he was the overdog. The junior had to go into the pit and saw and of course he got covered in saw dust. He was the "underdog".
"Sympathy for the Underdog"
In a more broad sense, the term is used in reference to a social or ethnic group which suffers from discrimination, persecution and/or economic disability and which on that base gains the sympathy of public opinion in its own or other countries.
Such sympathy had often proved of crucial importance in the struggles of national liberation, civil rights and social justice movements, and such movements spend considerable efforts and sometimes significantly modify their tactics and strategy with the conscious aim of gaining this kind of sympathy.
The definition of a particular group as an "Underdog" or an "Overdog" might 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, they came to be regarded as cruel racist oppressors, with the South African Blacks being the Underdogs.
Similarly, at its early stages the Zionist movement was widely regarded as representing an Underdog, i.e. Jews who were the target of persecution and Nazi genocide; the creation of Israel in 1948 was widely regarded as a victory for this Underdog. At present, however, Israel's forty-year long military hold over the Occupied Territories has made it seem by large parts of the Western public opinion as the oppressor, with the Palestinians now being the Underdog. For their part, speakers of the Government of Israel, in emphasizing the deadly impact of suicide bombings on Israeli society, seek in effect to prove that Israelis are still the Underdogs.
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 "undeplaying" the sufferings of their own side and "inflating" those of their opponents.
- The Biblical David who slew the champion Goliath (Bible)
- The Greek states successfully repelled the mighty Persian Empire at the Battle of Salamis
- The people of Rhodes in resisting the siege imposed by King Demetrius I of Macedon
- Hannibal defeated numerically superor Roman forces 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 Roman and Persian empires
- 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, 2100 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 American revolutionary forces against the British army during the American Revolutionary War.
- 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 1934, boxer James J. Braddock (also known as the Cinderella Man) defeat heavyweight champion Max Baer as the 10-to-1 underdog in a major upset.
- On July 16th,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. Another upset in the tournament was the USA victory over highly ranked England, 1-0
- In Super Bowl III, the New York Jets, led by quarterback Joe Namath, defeated the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 16-7.
- 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, but they were defeated 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 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."
- 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
- In the 1992 European Football Championship in Sweden, Denmark won the entire tournament. Denmark was a reserve team because of the Yugoslav Wars.
- 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 2001, Goran Šimun Ivanišević win 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 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 cup holders France, the favourites Czech Republic in the semifinals, and Portugal again in the final to win the Euro cup in the most unexpected victory in football history.
- In 2004, the Boston Red Sox were down three games to none against the heavily 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, San Pablo and finally the defending champions Boca Juniors in the penalty shootout.
- 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, England, thanks to an even 100 by 20 year old Mohammad Ashraful. Of Bangladesh's previous 108 games, it was only their tenth win. 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.