Chamberlain VS. Ali
While Wilt Chamberlain may have cleverly sidestepped paying the bill when he went out with Arnie and Andre the Giant, he seems pretty keen in this shot to jump straight into a boxing match with Muhammad Ali. The truly crazy thing is, if he’d gone ahead with it, the LA Lakers player could have netted more money from one fight with Ali than he did throughout his entire basketball career.
The reason this fight never ended up happening is pretty clear from the picture. Chamberlain’s height and insanely superior reach made them a complete mismatch. Ali’s trainer wasn’t having it. So, Chamberlain’s dreams of fighting for the heavyweight championship never eventuated.
The Towering Shaq
It’s Arnie! This time being dwarfed by a famous basketball player: Shaquille O’Neal. We’re all pretty aware by now that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a big lad. It’s kind of what he’s famous for, right? When he stands next to fans, he makes them look tiny. With all these snaps he takes with basketball players (and giants), it seems like he gets an odd kind of thrill out of being made to feel small.
Arnie and Shaq had never been seen hanging out before this picture, so the photographer was keen to capture the moment on film. And we’re glad he did! Arnie was clearly happy to oblige, creating the cutest expression with which to gaze up at the towering Shaq.
Flying Hockey Player
What an incredible capture this is. From the horizontal angle of his body and the look of surprise on his face, it really looks as though hockey player, Bobby Orr, has accidentally discovered how to fly. The photo was captured in 1970, during the Stanley Cup Finals. Hockey fans will tell you; it is rare to see a player mid-flight like this.
Orr’s team, the Boston Bruins, ended up winning their first cup in 29 years after this game. And Orr, widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of ice hockey, took out the MVP honors.
Carl's Glorious Moment
This stunning image captures a multi-layered moment. First, there is the pure personal achievement of Carl Lewis, an athlete who set a new definition for the word “fast.” You’re also seeing the moment two world records (one for Lewis on the anchor leg and one for the whole team) were broken during the 4×100m relay at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Lewis ran his 100m leg in an incredible time of just 8.85 seconds, and his record stood for 15 years, unbroken until 2007. The joy captured in the faces of all three athletes in this shot is incredible. You can almost feel it glowing out of the image and warming your cheeks.
Peppers Like A Boss
We are so in love with this picture. In a display of brilliant timing, the photographer managed to capture these players in a perfect star formation. It almost looks more like they’re in the middle of some choreographed dance routine than a basketball game!
What you’re actually seeing here is Julius Peppers (yes, the football player) making a valiant attempt at a difficult shot, guarded by a rival player. Before his football career kicked off, Peppers played college basketball for North Carolina. While his athletic ability is clear in this image, his Duke counterpart has an insanely graceful defensive game.
A Running Champion
This image was captured during the finals of the 100m dash at the 1988 Olympics. At this elite level, athletes are completing the race in a matter of seconds, so it seems impossible for anyone sprinter to pull that far ahead of the pack. Winners are often determined by fractions of a second.
Yet in this image, we see the incredible Ben Johnson blitzing the rest of the runners on his way to a gold medal at these Olympics, held in South Korea. In the process, he set a new world record. If you’re thinking this skill level looks impossible, well, you’re kind of right. Johnson was later found to be using performance-enhancing drugs and had the gold medal stripped from him.
Like Father Like Daughter
Laila Ali is a former pro boxer who holds both middleweight and light heavyweight titles. She retired in 2007 undefeated. If her last name sounds familiar, then you're absolutely correct, as she's the daughter of former Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali, who is arguably the greatest boxer of all times. In the photo below, Laila Ali is seen posing with her father after defeating Erin Toughill by knockout on June 11, 2005.
Fun fact, Laila Ali worked as a manicurist when she was 16, and she even owned her own salon. Despite growing up with a boxing champion as a father, her interest in boxing didn't spark until she was 18 after watching a women's boxing match. What a career change! Her father wasn't thrilled with the idea of her dangerous new venture, but he would eventually show his support and attend her boxing matches, and he definitely did not disappoint.
The Incredible Maradona
How many soccer players does it take to block Maradona from scoring? Apparently, more than six. The late Diego Maradona, one of the best soccer players in history and the most phenomenal World Cup performers ever, is seen below dribbling in between six(!) Belgian players on their way to scoring a coast-to-coast goal in the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The goal is widely considered to be one of the best in the history of the sport.
There is much debate about a better soccer player, Maradona, who played for Argentinian or his arch-rival, the Brazilian soccer player, Pelé. The FIFA committee couldn't decide either, as they were joint titled FIFA Player of the 20th Century.
Styling On The Running Track
Sprinter and track star Florence Griffith Joyner, also known by the moniker Flo-jo, wasn't only known for her unbelievable speed but also her flamboyant fashion sense. She was known for showing up to track meets in vibrant colored two pieces, her iconic one-legged track-suites, and long acrylic nails, as seen in the photos below.
Griffith's 1988 record-breaking times for the 100 m and 200 m dashes still stand today. Thus in 2019, she is still regarded as the fastest woman of all time.
Tiger Woods And His Pops
This picture shows golf legend Tiger Woods, his father, Earl Woods. At the time, young Tiger was 15 years old and already making his mark in the golf world. He had just won the USGA Junior Amateur Championships.
On more than one occasion, Tiger expressed how his father was also his best friend, which shows in this picture. Sadly, in 2006 his father passed away after battling cancer, which caused Tiger to take a short career hiatus. But he soon returned to the league and won 6 consecutive tour events, with 54 wins by the end of that season.
The Colorful Astros
Whether you were around for the 70s or have just seen the pictures that prove the decade happened, you’ll be aware that vibrant colors were the popular choice for everything from wallpaper to dresses and uniforms. Everything was bright, disco fever was rampant, and all the cool kids were cramming as much glitz and color as they could into literally every facet of their lives.
While it may be the fashion and music scenes that are most famous for embracing this iconic 70s trend, as it turns out, the sporting world was in on it too. The very first Houston Astros baseball team is a shining example of this color-frenzy. With their array of bright white, yellow, orange, and gold, these uniforms definitely catch the eye. The black star and armbands add a touch of class to the wild colors. And those guys sure look like they’re having a blast in their getups.
Oscar Gamble And His Amazing Afro
Speaking of time travel, can you imagine how incredible it would be to spend your holidays back in your decade of choice? You’d get to soak in all the culture, see the bands you love from that era live and in their prime, visit historical figures. In short, you’d get to know, first hand, what it was to be a part of that unique slice of human history. By now, you surely have a decade in mind; the one you’d choose to go back to if presented with a free trip in a time machine.
If the 70s is your jam, then you may want to consider getting your hair in order before you head off to be sure you fit in. The rule to go by for this decade? Bigger is better. If you can manage a bangin’ afro like the one pictured here, more power to you. Whether your hair can reach these heights or not, you have to admire the luscious fro that pro baseball player, Oscar Gamble, is sporting here. With that handlebar mustache completing the look, it’s about as 70s as you can get.
A Bit Of Healthy Competition
Rivalry: it’s an essential component of sports, yet there are good and bad ways to go about it. We’ve all seen plenty of fights erupt at sporting events, if not between the players, then often among the fans! While contact sports like football and boxing may be the first to come to mind when you think of rivalry going wrong, the high-intensity nature of sports and the amount athletes have riding on their success means it can spill out anywhere, anytime.
This is even true in the most placid of all sports: golf. This photo from December 1966 shows Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, who were competing against each other in that year’s Masters. While these guys were long-time rivals, you can probably guess from the smiles on their faces that they handled their rivalry the right way. They did so well, in fact, that a lifelong friendship developed out of it.
Andre Agassi Never Broke A Sweat!
It seems even sports stars weren’t immune to being influenced by the trends of the time. Here, Andre Agassi is seen making his best George Michael impression on the court. Or is it Farrah Fawcett he’s going for? Whoever he was emulating, we really should cut him some slack. This picture was taken in 1988 (when Agassi was just 18 years of age), and long feathered hair was definitely in at the time.
While athletes certainly work up a sweat, as we saw with Flamin’ Mamie’s Bouffant Belles, that doesn’t mean they can’t hit it in style. So, next time you use “I just got back from the gym” as an excuse for looking sweaty and grungy, remember Agassi managed to maintain this perfectly coiffed look while performing at an elite level in front of a crowd of thousands.
Johnny Unitas And Herman Monster
Without a backstory, this is such a confusing picture. What is a famous football player doing with a fictional TV monster? Turns out the story is quite simple. Unitas wanted to visit the set, and he got his wish. Nicknamed “the golden arm” for the incredible power and precision he was able to put into his passes; it’s no wonder his wish was everyone else’s command.
Pictured here, the Baltimore Colts player is having a great time horsing around with Herman Munster on the set of The Munsters on January 5th, 1965. Sports and television were the biggest crazes of the time, and this image perfectly captures the spirit of the 60s.
Fredbird Hugs Bird
Here’s another super sweet photo of a sports star having fun with a performer. From the 1960s and NFL legend Johnny Unitas, we shoot forward to the late 70s. We see the St. Louis Cardinals mascot, Fredbird, getting up close and personal with legendary Boston Celtics player Larry Bird. We won’t belabor the very obvious joke they were going for. But we will give you a hint: it’s all in the name.
Mascots were introduced to provide comic relief at sporting events, lifting the tension as two teams (and their emotionally invested fans) go head to head. This beautiful shot was snapped on June 2nd, 1979 before Larry Bird had even shown us how legendary he could be. Along with this charming photo, Bird was given the honor of throwing the first pitch at this game.
Larry Bird Wins The Eastman Award
Here’s the sweet and innocent-looking Larry Bird again, this time pictured with the Eastman Award, an honor presented by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for the year’s most outstanding player in college basketball. Bird is looking so relaxed here, as though he already knows how his award-filled future will play out.
This picture was taken on March 20th, 1979 and, though he looks calm and sure of himself, the adorable young man had no idea that he was about to grow into the kind of legend who enjoys a friendly rivalry with basketball greats like Magic Johnson.
Not So Healthy Super Bowl Stars
With all the athletes falling from grace in recent years—for everything from performance-enhancing drugs to infidelities in their personal lives—one thing is clear: we hold our sports stars to a high moral standard. With kids looking up to them as role models, it’s only natural that we should want them to be good ones. Yet it’s important to remember that they’re human too.
Here, Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson can be seen taking a long draw on a cigarette with what looks like a bottle of beer at his feet. This is about as opposite to the clean-cut image of an athlete we all have in our heads as you can get! If you’re hoping this is part of a post-game celebration, get set to be disappointed. The shot was actually taken while Len was relaxing during halftime at the first-ever Super Bowl. He’d have a hard time getting away with that nowadays!
Nothing Shorter Than 70s Shorts
Fashion is a cyclical beast, as anyone who’s lived more than a handful of decades will tell you. What goes out of style always comes back around; it’s just a matter of waiting. And, as this picture clearly demonstrates, booty shorts have been around before. While they may be popular now, this certainly isn’t their first rodeo.
While the 60s was still a time where conservative fashion ruled, all hell broke loose in the 70s, the conventional mindset was upturned, and people were freed up to wear whatever took their fancy. The hippie movement played a big part in this renaissance of sorts, as did the continued evolution of rock ‘n’ roll. While sports in the 60s were a covered-up affair, fashion-wise, denizens of the 70s, like this super-happy badminton playing couple, were able to wear whatever they pleased, regardless of how skimpy it was.
Playing Tennis In The 1950s
Speaking of the old days, when sports clothes were conservative, this picture perfectly captures the culture of the 50s. At the time, society dictated the acceptable dress code, and there was no room afforded to rebellious types. This was especially true in tennis. While these ladies are already looking prim and proper in their perfectly starched outfits, you may be surprised to learn that this was actually considered close to risque at the time.
In the decades immediately preceding this snap, the dress code had been even more discreet, with ladies expected to wear long dresses that covered most of their legs and arms. A bit cumbersome for such an active sport! With tennis stars like Anna Kournikova and Serena Williams now gracing our courts (and the covers of magazines), those conservative days are well and truly gone!
The Redskins And Their Logo
Fans of the Washington Redskins will be stoked to see one of their earliest uniforms. Burgundy and gold was their color combo, right from the start, though their helmet logo has undergone an upgrade. While the letter logo is commonplace among football teams, the Redskins made the controversial move to change the innocent “R” you can see here to a Native American head, the logo you’ll be familiar with today.
With concerns being repeatedly raised, not just from Native American communities, but from all parts of America, many are calling for the Redskins to go back to their original logo: the simple and elegant R. While this would likely satisfy some, there’s no avoiding the fact that the name itself carries almost as much controversy.
Johnny And Bob Were Friendly Rivals
Those of you who recognize the race car drivers in this image will probably remember the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, "Wacky Races.: Featuring Dick Dastardly, Penelope Pitstop, and the sniggering pup, Muttley, the show was a cute and funny take on the real-life world of racing, which was taking off at the time.
Racing fanatics will recognize the stern face of Johnny Boyd sitting in the car ( looking exactly like Peter Perfect from Wacky Races), and listening with absolute seriousness to whatever it is fellow driver Bob Sweikert, is telling him. While the pair were friends, and Sweikert even stood in as a mentor to Boyd, they were also competitors, racing against each other many times over the course of their careers.
Gooden Goes Down!
It’s always interesting when athletes from two different sports meet. And it seems to be a running gag, when one of those athletes is a fighter, for punches to be thrown. Here, we can see Dwight Gooden doing a poor job of dodging the deadly right hook of Mike Tyson. While we all know Tyson went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, Gooden had no idea at the time.
This iconic photo was taken at Shea Stadium way back in September of 1986. The other player you can see, laughing in awe of Tyson’s shot, is Darryl Strawberry. At the time, Gooden and Strawberry were big names. Tyson, on the other hand, had yet to make as much of a splash in boxing as Gooden and Strawberry had made in baseball. A month after this shot was taken, though, he took the heavyweight title from Trevor Berbick.
Richard Petty And His NASCAR Look
Another smoking sports star. Though at least this one’s not in the midst of the action! Here, we see NASCAR superstar, Richard Petty, doing a damn fine job of making smoking cool… something we can’t help feeling uncomfortable about, especially considering what we said earlier about sports stars being role models for children.
There’s no denying it, though; he does look pretty boss with that staunch cigar in his mouth, those wisps of smoke curling around his face, and that Dirty Harry aura about him. The shot was taken in March of 1981. That cowboy hat you see him in, with the rooster feathers? It was as much Petty’s trademark as the cigar hanging casually from his mouth.
John McEnroe And His Headband
Rocking an impressive fro, perfectly suited to the decade this picture was snapped in, tennis legend John McEnroe certainly has his game face on under all that hair. This was back in January of 1978 when McEnroe was 18 years old. If there’s something familiar about this picture that you can’t quite put your finger on, we’ve got you covered.
Those of you who are too young to be familiar with the 70s tennis star (who was as famous for his on-court rage sessions as he was for his skill) are probably getting flashbacks to a more recent time and a more recent star when you look at this image. McEnroe’s look was surely an inspiration to Will Ferrell in the creation of his film, Semi-Pro. While the sports were different, the big hair and the sweatband are the same. The similarities are too great for it to be a coincidence.
Mr. Trump And Mr. Tyson
Boxing superstar turned controversial celebrity Mike Tyson and controversial celebrity turned former President of the United States, Donald Trump, have been pals since the 80s. While they may be friends, the pair’s connection was financially founded. Trump is a huge fan of boxing (and the revenue it brings in), and Tyson had several famous fights at Trump Plaza. One of these clashes took place in 1988 when an undefeated Tyson took on an equally undefeated Michael Spinks. It was Tyson, of course, who came out the winner.
In this picture, we can see Tyson and Trump cuddling up with Tyson’s wife, Robin Givens, and her mother on July 22nd, 1988. Seems like Trump knew something Tyson didn’t. While Tyson is all smiles, Trump’s face is tight-lipped. Whether he knew it or not, Tyson and Givens were destined for divorce.
A Funny Kobe
This picture captures a rare moment in time. It’s 1998, and the late Kobe Bryant can be seen relaxed and smiling in the makeup room of the sketch comedy show, "All That." Leaning in to join him in the shot (and looking super happy about it) are stars of the show, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell. All are teenagers at the time.
Why is this so rare? Well, even in his teen years, Kobe was one of those athletes who seemed to only care about his game. To see the famous basketball player relaxing with a couple of jokers, with a big smile on his own face, was rare. Not to mention that he was about to appear in a pretty funny sketch on the show.
A Strange Trio
This crazy picture features a massive Arnold Schwarzenegger looking like a kid swinging on the arms of Andre the Giant and Wilt Chamberlain. It was shared with the world by a Reddit user who goes by the handle qw1k1lv3r. We’ll leave you to piece together what that spells out. Attached to the picture was this message: “André the Giant was known to pay for his meal, regardless of whether he was the host or the guest. As Arnold Schwarzenegger was about to pay for the meal, [he] found himself being physically lifted, carried back to his table and deposited in his seat by Andre, who stated emphatically, ‘I pay.’”
Arnie actually popped up on the Reddit thread to confirm this story, explaining, “this story is basically true. It is missing Wilt Chamberlain’s involvement, which was never paying and then acting like he had planned to pay this time, and helping Andre carry me all the way outside to drop me on a car.” And here’s another piece of Arnie trivia you’ll love: the star actually pops up on Reddit threads pretty regularly, usually offering advice to people who are just starting with exercise. How sweet is that?
A Leaping Namath
Nicknamed “Broadway Joe,” the leaping athlete you see in this image was a massive icon in 60s football. The quarterback was known for leading his team to victory in Super Bowl III and turned his talents to sports broadcasting and acting. Probably a good thing because, while his feats of athleticism were incredible, he was also known for being injured on a worryingly frequent basis, particularly in the latter part of his career.
Along with the incredible heights, he was able to leap to, Namath was known for his powerhouse of an arm: the perfect combination for a quarterback. Everyone has a weakness, though and, for Broadway Joe, it was his knees. Given how weak they were, powerful jumps like the one you see in this picture were, sadly, a rarity.
A Star Among His Fans
At first glance, this picture looks like it’s nothing more than a shot of a packed crowd of sports fans. Yet, if you look closer, there’s a gem hidden in among that sea of humanity. Can you spot the grinning visage of Babe Ruth in the middle of the crowd? Ruth was like no other sports star in so many respects. As it turns out, being happy to mingle with many fans was yet another way the brilliantly talented baseball legend stood out from his colleagues.
This photo was taken in 1926, a season that would go down as Ruth’s most successful. Perhaps he knew something his competitors didn’t? Maybe joining the crowd and soaking up their frenetic energy somehow charged his batteries up, allowing him to outshine the teams he came up against.
Here Comes The Slam Dunk!
This epic tryptic captures the brilliance of a slam dunk with such precision that it almost looks casual and effortless. This shot captures one of only two times in basketball history where a player has cleared an opposing team member to claim a dunk. The first occurred at the Olympics when Vince Carter leaped right over the French team’s center, Frederic Weis. The second time is what you’re looking at here: LeBron James has just cleared Bulls guard John Lucas, slamming the ball ferociously into the hoop.
Both James and Carter are known for their impressive leaping capabilities. Carter is considered to be one of the greatest dunkers of all time. However, James now has the photographic evidence to prove his skill.
Barefoot All The Way
Marathons: the name alone is enough to make the average person feel exhausted. Few of us ever cultivate the constitution, fitness, and mental fortitude necessary to master one of these multi-hour races. They are notoriously difficult to train for and take an intense toll on the joints and, really, the whole body. Yet, ask any marathon runner, and they’ll tell you: the feeling of success when you finally cross that finish line is like nothing else. In a race where simply finishing feels like a monumental achievement, can you imagine the emotional response you’d have to finish first… at the Olympics?
Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila, who you can see in this picture, did just that way back in 1960. Not only did he take out the gold medal, but he also ran the whole race, situated that year in Rome, with nothing on his feet. It was so hot that the race had to be run at night, which is why the photo is so dark. A barefoot Bikila crossed the finish line with a time of 2:15:16.2.
Here’s one of those pictures we told you would bring a tear to your eyes! The weight of failure is crushing enough for athletes. We can only imagine how weightlifting champion, Matthias Steiner, is feeling in the moment captured by this photo. To put it in perspective for you, the Olympian attempted to lift more than 432 pounds in this image.
The shot was captured at the 2012 London Olympics. Poor Steiner had actually gone into the games as both the defending Olympic champion and the favorite to win. However, with weights as bulky as he was lifting, you can’t afford to lose your balance by even a hair. Unfortunately, Steiner swayed enough to throw him right off balance and bring the insanely heavy bar down on his neck. While he got up and displayed to the crowd that he wasn’t too badly hurt, he did end up pulling out of the competition that day.
The Magic Of Magic Johnson
Here’s another brilliant basketball shot for you. Somehow, when they’re captured mid-air, these players manage to look so casual, like they’re just hanging out, not at all in the midst of a fast-paced, high-pressure game. This rare shot perfectly captures what an aerial, no-look pass really looks like. And it’s as boss as we all imagined. The pass came from the inimitable Magic Johnson, a maestro of the game who carried out every play with his own unique style.
This pass was captured in the midst of a pre-season game. Sadly, just two weeks later, Johnson was destined to announce his HIV diagnosis and decision to retire from the NBA. This classy pass was possibly the last great maneuver to erupt from the legend before he left the sport for good.
If you’re ever lucky enough to be in the presence of a professional in your field, be sure to emulate everyone in this photo literally and give said professional your undivided attention. You never know what tips and tricks you might pick up, and their advice could be just what you need to tip the scales in your favor. If you’re not sure who it is, this crowd. It is listening to so intently, well, that’s a baseball legend, Ted Williams. This snap was taken at a training camp in 1956.
While Williams was already making strides at the time, he still hadn’t even peaked. The champ had yet to achieve his best major-league records. It’s beautiful to see such a skilled sportsman sharing his knowledge with colleagues and the next generation of sporting heroes.
How’s this for a view? If you ask us, it’s pretty spectacular! Though it might be a bit difficult to follow the action. This remarkable shot was taken during the World Series in 1960. Since you haven’t got a hope of being able to tell who’s playing from the image, let us fill you in: it was the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates battling it out.
The mega excited fans you can see here are Pittsburgh University students who braved the heights of the cathedral on their campus, clambering to the top to catch a glimpse of the action. The reason they’re so happy? What they were witnessing was their team’s first World Series win in over 30 years.
Wait, Bolt Lost?
Another incredible mid-race shot. This time, featuring the force of nature that is Usain Bolt. There was a time when the runner seemed unstoppable. The idea of someone outstripping him on the track? Absurd. However, few people remember that Bolt’s first Olympic appearance was a fail.
Bolt felt most at home in the 200m race, so it was a shock, back in 2004, when he was eliminated before the final. With a running time of 21.05 in one of the heats, Bolt was out. In an inspiring turnaround, he would go on, just four years later, to set a world record in the same race with a time of 19.30.
Always Be Safe
Athletes competing in winter sports often find themselves in the midst of some pretty spectacular scenery. Yet we doubt they’re able to take too much time to soak it in! This mountainous, fog-ridden backdrop looks majestic and apocalyptic all at once. In the foreground, three skiers can be seen in mid-air and mid competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Held in Sochi, Russia, the conditions were formidable. Yet competitors Katrin Ofner, Anna Holmlund, and Stephanie Joffroy were fearless as they vied for the top spot on the podium. Can you imagine competing in such an intense sport with your vision so limited by fog?
The Most Difficult Dunk
Dunking is both a difficult maneuver and an all-out fan favorite. Since it’s not always practical mid-game, the NBA organises dunk contests that allow them to feed the crowd's desires while showing off the incredible skills of the best dunkers in the sport. In a statement that will surprise nobody, let us tell you, these comps always end up being a huge draw-card for sports-lovers. You get to see players dunking backwards, leaping over cars, and clearing crowds of humans to swing from the hoop. What’s not to love?
One fabled trick that, for the longest time, seemed out of reach, even for the most elite players, was the 720 dunk. As the name suggests, this trick shot involves not just one but two full spins in the air before the ball is deposited in the hoop. One man was able to complete the daunting trick and, thanks to the wonders of technology, we have the video footage to prove it. Enjoy!
Young Lance Armstrong
17-year-old Lance Armstrong, then a professional triathlete, appears to be exhausted but content after competing in the Jeep Triathlon Grand Prix in May 1988. Lance grew up playing a plethora of sports, including football and soccer. He started putting his focus on swimming as he approached his teens, and at the age of 13, he became a junior triathlete, and by 16, he was a pro triathlete. This athletic prodigy was ranked the top triathlete in the 19-and-under group in the 1987–1988 Tri-Fed/Texas.
Years later, Armstrong would eventually become the world's most renowned cyclist, winning 7 consecutive Tour de France races beginning in 1999. Unfortunately, he is also infamous for a very public doping scandal where he was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and consequently, getting the titles revoked.
The Evolution Of American Basketball
In the photos below, you can see the same team during two different eras of basketball, and history for that matter, side by side. The picture on the left is the San Diego State University's basketball team, the 'Aztecs,' in 1941, during the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, where the Aztecs won the tournament, becoming the first team to make it to the championship game 3 times. You can see the players are content with their big achievements.
In the photo on the right, we see the 2012-2013 season's San Diego 'Aztecs'. Not only have the uniforms changed, but the demographics of the players have as well. In 1941, with discriminatory laws like Jim Crow, racism was still lawfully practiced and systematic. There weren't many black basketball players in the college or national league. In fact, the first non-white player to be drafted into the NBA was the Japanese-American point guard, Wataru "Wat" Misaka, in 1947. The first African-American to be allowed in the professional league was Chuck Copper in 1950.
Terrorism Devastates The 1972 Summer Olympics
During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, a Palestinian terrorist group that went by the name of Black September held 11 Israeli Olympic team members hostage and shot them dead. A West German police officer was also killed during a crossfire between the terrorists and the German police.
An event meant to represent unity and sportsmanship ended with a tragic and bitter reminder that hatred can infiltrate the most joyful events. In 1973, the Israeli Mossad responded to the horrific massacre in a raid coined Operation Wrath of God, which targeted the main suspects.
The Underdog Wins!
At 5 ft 7 in (1.70 m), Anthony Webb, also known as "Spud," is one of the shortest players to be drafted to the NBA. Although most basketball scouts recognized his talent, they predicted he would be great for The Harlem Globetrotters, or a European team. None of them expected to play in the NBA. Not only did Spud Webb proves them all wrong, but he made record-breaking achievements throughout his 12-season long career in the NBA.
Webb was famous for his extraordinary 42 inches (1.06 m) vertical jump, which he used to his advantage on many occasions; one of his most memorable being during the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, when he played for the Atlanta Hawks. Ultimately Webb won that Slam Dunk Contest, taking home the gold, despite being one of the shortest players in NBA history.
The Winning Goal!
On August 8th, 1998, Mia Hamm celebrated the 101 goals of her career in the US Women's Soccer Team match against Russia, where her team beat their rivals 4-0. Hamm is widely regarded as the best woman soccer player of all time. In 2013, lucky #9, Mia Hamm, became the first woman to be inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame.
Pelé, who's one of (if not) the best soccer players in the history of the sport, once said about Hamm, “When I was playing, they said soccer was a man’s world and that women should remain on the sidelines. All I can say is, I am glad I never had to go up against Mia Hamm!” Respect!
When MJ Dominated The NBA Courts
There's no need to give this world-famous basketball player an introduction...it's needless to say that he was a "pretty good" player. In fact, if you read Michael Jordan's biography on the official NBA website, it states: "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." If one had to rank Jordan's most epic dunks, the one on Patrick Ewing during the Chicago Bulls vs. the New York Knicks during the 1991 NBA Playoffs, would have to be among the top 3. It's also its performer's favorite dunk. Jordan himself once said, "My most memorable dunk, the one that I think about very, very often is the Patrick Ewing Dunk,” “That’s only because Patrick and I are such great friends.” He added.
A few weeks after that iconic game, Jordan would win the first of his six career NBA championships. Over his 13 seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan eliminated Ewing and the Knicks from the playoffs five times! That dunk eventually became the symbol of Jordan’s dominance of the rivalry, and, apparently, his friend Ewing will never hear the end of it, as Jordan once jokingly said: “Every time I see him, that’s the first thing I remind him of.”
1929 Columbia University Varsity Rowing Team
At that time, the college sports that were most popular to follow outside of the pro-leagues were football and rowing. Since rowing has lost its popularity but lets us take a moment to appreciate the sport. Columbia's 1929 heavyweight crew was possibly the fastest rowing boat in the world. Though they were both a national and international phenomenon, they never got a chance to bring home the gold, as the years of their prime weren't Olympic years. The New York Times once raved about the team, after one of their many victorious matches, "Columbia's victory is among the greatest sporting achievements ever put down on record."
Going season after season undefeated, this varsity heavyweight crew is regarded as one of the greatest 8+ American rowing teams. The team was eventually etched in rowing history in January 1974, when the 1929 Columbia University varsity crew was inducted into the Rowing Hall of Fame by the NAAO.
Youngest Heavyweight Champion
Tyson is widely regarded as one of the best heavyweights of all time. By the age of 20, he became a world heavyweight boxer and became the youngest boxer in history to hold that title. Tyson was known for his ferocious boxing style, as well as his controversial behavior both inside and outside the ring. For example, at one point, he owned a rare white tiger which he kept as a pet. On another occasion, he asked a zookeeper to let him in a gorilla cage so he could wrestle the primate. Ultimately, his reputation got him his second "title" of "The Baddest Man on the Planet."
Since Tyson's young and crazy days, and after he retired, he has become quite an ordinary family man. He once said about himself that he couldn't believe the things he'd done when he was younger. Well, luckily, we have pictures to prove it.
The 1st Maccabiah
Jewish athletes from all over the world, as well as Israeli athletes (regardless of their religion), participate in the multi-sport event that is held quadrennially in Israel, called the Maccabiah. With around 10,000 athletes competing, the Maccabiah also called the "Jewish Olympics," is the third-largest sports event in the world. The first Maccabiah Games, also called the "Jewish Olympics," was on March 28, 1932, in Tel Aviv, and 390 athletes from 27 countries participated.
As the days leading to the opening ceremony approached, Tel Aviv faced a shortage of accommodation. Thus the residents of the city were asked to host guests in their own homes. Hosts also helped out by taking their athletes to their events. Everything worked out, and the first Maccabiah was considered a big success."Teamwork makes the dream work!"
U.S. Athletes Protest At The 1968 Olympics
This powerful photo is widely regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympics. In the 1968 Summer Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, of the U.S. track team, took 1st and 3rd place in the 200-meter dash, respectively. During their medal ceremony, the African-American athletes turned to face their county's flag, bowed their heads, and raised their firsts, covered with black gloves throughout the whole duration of the national anthem that was played after they received their medals. All three of the winning athletes, including the Australian silver medalist Peter Norman, wore human-rights badges on their jackets.
Tommie Smith later stated in his autobiography that their silent demonstration was a "human rights" salute. Explaining that while he and Carlos were "good enough" to win medals for the country, they knew that when they would get back home, they would be "welcomed" with the same discrimination they faced before they were Olympic champions.
Acrobats On The Empire State Building
Acrobats Jewell Waddek, Jarley Smith, and Jimmy Kerrigan performed this stunt on August 21, 1934. Spectator watched speechless as the daredevils balanced themselves in perfect form on a ledge of the Empire State Building in Manhattan. They wouldn't be the last to attempt such acts.
Fun fact about this iconic building: The idea of the Empire State Building was born from a competition between John Jakob Raskob of General Motors and Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation to see who could build a taller building. Chrysler's famous 1,046-foot skyscraper, Chrysler Building, was already in the makings in midtown Manhattan. Not wanting to lose, Raskob quickly got to work, and his entire new building went up in a little over a year, under budget (at $40 million) and well ahead of schedule, at that!
The Williams Sisters Meet The President
Young Venus and Serena Williams are seen here cheesing from ear-to-ear with former U.S. President Ronald Reagan at a tennis camp in Florida in 1991. Perhaps he already recognized the Williams sisters as a force to be reckoned with even in their junior tennis career. If so, his prediction was correct, as the Williams sisters went on to be two of the best tennis players the world has witnessed. They are so good that during the final matches of many competitions they were left to compete against each other- they met in the 9 Grand Slam Singles finals!
Venus and Serena Williams became the first two players, female or male, to play in four Grand Slam singles finals from the 2002 French Open to the 2003 Australian Open, consecutively! Between 2000 and 2016, they collectively won 12 Wimbledon singles titles (Serena won 7, and Venus won five), and they're the 5th pair to complete the Career Doubles Grand Slam and the only pair to complete the Career Doubles Golden Slam.
Dad To The Rescue
Derek Redmond, now retired, are an accomplished track runner who held the British record for the 400 m sprint and helped bring his team to take the gold at European and World championships 4x400 relay races. His career, however, was halted after some serious injuries. During the 400 meters semi-finals in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, Redmond felt something in his leg "snap"; he tore his hamstring mid-race.
Redmond immediately fell to his knees but soon got up, and despite the excruciating pain, he continued to limp to the finish line. With the help of his father, who came running to the track, Redmond managed to complete his final lap. Although he was disqualified and listed as "Did Not Finish" due to receiving outside assistance to finish the race, the crowd gave Redmond a well-deserved standing ovation. The incident has become well-remembered as one of the most heartwarming moments in Olympic history.
Olympic Figure Skater In The Making
While this young Norwegian girl had fun skating, little did she know that she would become a world-famous figure skater and film star? The young skater is none other than Sonja Henie, a 3-time Olympic Champion in Ladies' Singles, a six-time European Champion, and a 10-time World Champion.
As mentioned before, Henie was also a successful movie star and one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood. Her most noteworthy appearances include the box-office hits: Thin Ice (1937), My Lucky Star (1938), Second Fiddle (1939), and Sun Valley Serenade (1941).
Jessie Owens Proves Hitler Wrong
In the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Jessie Owens, a four-time Olympic gold medalist by the end of the competition, was coined "the most successful athlete at the Games." As a black man, Owen was credited with "single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy."
The picture was taken during the era of Nazi Germany, and you can see the members of the German team shamelessly holding the Nazi Salute during the medal ceremony for the winners of the long jump competition. Jessie Owens (U.S.A) team took first place, Luz Long (Germany) took second, and Tajima (Japan). Surprisingly, Long and Owens befriended each other during the Olympic games. Owen once said, "It took a lot of courage for him to befriend me in front of Hitler...".
Post Apartheid South Africa
The 1995 Rugby World Cup was hosted and won by South Africa. It was the 3rd Rugby World Cup. With South African apartheid ending only a year prior and Nelson Mandela being the country's new president, this photo moment is thought to be one of the most famous finals of any sport.
In the cup's final, held in Johannesburg in June that year, South Africa defeated New Zealand 15–12. Following South Africa's victory, Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springboks rugby shirt and cap, presented the South African captain François Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup.
The First Female NASCAR Driver
Think about being a professional NASCAR driver at a time where women were expected to just stay-at-home moms. For Sara Christian, this was not an option. She spent ages working hard to become the world’s first female NASCAR driver. In 1949, she was the first female NASCAR driver who competed for six out of eight events during her first and only full year.
Christian received the United States Drivers Association Woman Driver of the Year award. By 1949, she drove her Ford at the Charlotte Speedway and finished at 13th place. She raced for two years, starting in 1949 and ending her racing career in 1950. Later in 2004, Sara Christian was inducted into the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame.
Float Like A Butterfly... Sting Like Ali!
Talk about the right place at the right time; this image has to be one of sporting history’s finest moments! Neil Leifer, a photographer for "Sports Illustrated" at the time, was THE man to capture the moment Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston. This image has gone to be plastered over walls, caps, t-shirts, and any other printable memorabilia. As far as sporting images go, this one really does take the championship belt.
It was a story that would make David and Goliath seem like a children’s fable when the 23-year-old Muhammad Ali took on the 34-year-old “Big Bear." In 1964, Ali and Liston had a rematch, and despite a controversial ending, it went for a record 2:12 into the first round. On the iconic shot above, photographer Leifer is recorded to have said, “I was obviously in the right seat…but what matters is I didn’t miss.”
Babe Ruth, 1927
George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. is remembered as one of the legends of the game. With a 22-season career, the New York Yankees’ star outfielder began his long career as a wondrous left-handed pitcher. But funnily enough, he actually made his debut with the Boston Red Sox. The Baltimore-born Ruth was nicknamed “The Bambino” or the “Sultan of Swat” and was actually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the founding members.
With 714 career home runs, 2,062 bases on balls, and a slugging percentage of .690, there are some stats that even the modern-day greats can’t contest with. Regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen in all of American history, Ruth is also considered the best player of all time. He remained a part of American culture and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Andre, The Giant
Andre the Giant was a wrestling legend with legions of fans all over the world. He stood a staggering 7ft 4in tall and weighed over 500 lbs. He used his size and skills to fight three or four opponents and defeat some WWE heavy hitters, including big-name stars like Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy. He was also well known for Fezzik, the good-hearted giant, in the iconic film “The Princess Bride,” which earned him plenty of new fans.
Andre the Giant suffered from a condition in which his body had an excess of human growth hormone, and this is the reason for his enhanced proportions and deep voice. Sadly, he passed away from heart failure in 1993 when he only 46 years old.
The Winston Cup Series
Robin McCall, like many, was primed to become an outstanding racing driver since she was a kid. She began by competing in small races and swiftly built a reputation for herself as a top-tier racer. By 1982, she was already in NASCAR and won a shot at competing in the Winston Cup Series, making her the youngest woman to ever qualify for the competition.
In 1985, Robin McCall tied the knot with a fellow racing driver, Wally Dallenbach Jr. They ended up having three children together. Ultimately, raising a family is what led McCall to slowly but surely leave racing. McCall has since been working as a driving instructor for auto manufacturers in driving events.
W-W-W-W-Wipe Out! 1938
Tom Blake was a trailblazer in the surfing world, introducing the sport to California in 1931. Creating the very first hollow surfboard, Blake was going to go down in history. It was Blake who completely changed something the Hawaiians held closely to a national sport, which became incredibly popular around the globe. Here we see a group of surfers learning the ins and outs of the sport.
It’s one of the few sports that created its own culture and lifestyle. While it originated in Polynesia and onto the high-class Hawaiians, it was soon adopted by Americans, Australians, and many others. Blake didn’t stop at the surfboard, though; he also invented rescue paddleboards using the same design principles, as well as the first “torpedo” rescue buoy.
In 1967, did you know that the famous Kathrine Switzer was flagged down by a bunch of organizers during her Boston Marathon? Yes! That’s right. In this photo, we can see those exact people halting her from crossing the finish line. Of course, in their desperate attempt to do so, it only proved unsuccessful, and she ended up becoming the first Swiss woman to cross the Boston Marathon finish line.
Fortunately, none of these sexist situations are no longer applicable to this day, and nothing can stop a woman from attempting a feat like this. You go, girl!
A Perfectly Captured Moment
Nadia Comaneci is pictured completing a somersault during the 1976 Summer Olympics. This was taken on Aug. 2, 1976, and it perfectly captures her brilliance in a sport where she would become a five-time Olympic medalist.
She went on to become the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0, making the sport more popular around the globe. She received a perfect score from this performance and added six more, winning three golds in total. She garnered two more perfect scores during the 1980 Summer Olympics, held in Moscow, and earned two additional gold medals.
A Painful Moment
Prior to the 1984 Olympics held at Los Angeles, world champion distance runner, Mary Decker, had won gold medals in the 1983 Summer Olympics in the 1500m, and the 3000m category. She had high hopes coming in, due to her preparations, until she got herself tangled in the middle of the 3000m run.
The picture shows her trying to get up, but overcome by pain. She came into a jumble with Britain’s Zola Budd who was able to continue, although she was also quite shaken up. Zola was leading the race before the incident happened, and she dropped considerably to seventh place. Mary Decker, however, did not finish the run after she injured her hip.
Muhammad Ali was no doubt one of the greatest boxers of all time. Do you want to know how he trained for each fight? Before he became who he was, he was Cassius Clay.
In this rare photo, we see him training and posing underwater at the Sir John Hotel in Miami in 1961. As the saying goes, Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!
Robert Downey Jr.& Mike Tyson
It’s amazing; who knew Robert Downey Jr. and Mike Tyson had been friends for the longest time? In this photo, we see them posing with each other. In Mike’s words: “When there was no fighting or training, I would stay in the city at Steve Lott’s apartment. Many times I would visit Columbus Cafe, owned by Paul Herman and Mikhail Baryshnikov. It was located on Columbus Avenue near Lincoln Center.
The Cafe drew many famous actors, actresses, models, musicians, and athletes. Here’s a shot with a very young Robert Downey Jr. His great funny film with Rodney Dangerfield, “Back to School,” was playing in the movies. His career skyrocketed. You must see one of his last movies, “The Judge,” with Robert Duvall - a powerful film.”Coming from Mike Tyson’s words, he truly idolized Robert as a great actor and friend.
The “Thank God Ledge”
Alex Honnold is an American rock climber best known for his free solo ascents of big walls. He was the first person to free solo El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and held the fastest ascent of the Yosemite Triple Crown.
No ropes, no karabiners, no cams. Nothing but his hands and feet to climb the record-breaking 3000-foot “Thank God Ledge.” Honnold probably thanked God for surviving this freakily dangerous free solo attempt.
The First Lady Of Racing
When talking about legendary NASCAR racers, the name Louise Smith is always the one to be thrown around. This unbelievable female driver began her career with NASCAR as far back as 1949. A time where it was practically unheard for women to race cars. Not only did she make that dream come true, but she went on to become one of the best race car drivers of all time.
Louise Smith, the second female NASCAR driver in the world, won 38 races in her six-year career at the sport. After a reasonable hiatus, Smith returned to the game in 1971 as a sponsor for other drivers. She even mentored the legendary Ronnie Thomas at the start of his career. Smith was truly a great influence on NASCAR, which is why she received her iconic nickname, the “First Lady Of Racing.”
Among the most controversial players in the NBA, Dennis Rodman stands out for his skills and stunts.
This perfectly timed picture was taken in 1997 at the United Center in Chicago. This amazing shot of Rodman was captured as floated in the air almost parallel to the floor & proves to be one of the best photos ever taken in basketball history.
On October 8, 1956, then American Major League pitcher for the New York Yankees, Don Larsen, was feeling it in his veins. He wasn’t too excited nor intimidated by the importance of the event—the World Series Game 5 versus the Brooklyn Dodgers. He went on to pitch a no-hitter, the extremely elusive perfect game that day; the only one on record during a World Series.
This once-in-a-lifetime moment is captured in this photograph. Don Larsen runs to hug his teammate and catcher Yogi Berra at the Yankee Stadium. They won the Series in 7 games.
The NBA had a crazy year from 1961-62. The defense playing practically disappeared, and the number of possessions each team had per game sky-rocketed. Beyond Wilt Chamberlain, almost no one gained anything more from this offensive boom. Unless you were Oscar Robertson, his triple-double average was buoyed by the fact that the team points per game average that year (118.8) was the highest in the league's history.
Of course, we will never see that little emphasis placed on defense ever again, so the probability of a player being able to maintain that kind of output for an entire season is non-existent.
A Moment of Victory
Kerri Strug was a member of the US gymnastics team, The Magnificent Seven. They won the US its first-ever gold medal in the women’s team competition back in 1996 at the Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.
Kerri Strug suffered an ankle injury during her first performance at the vault. She was visibly in pain but refused to quit. This photograph captures the moment she lands after her second attempt, holding her pose, while her teammates held their breaths from the sidelines. Her performance was critical to the team’s gold medal hopes.
The Magic Bird
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird are photographed together here, in a game between Michigan State and Indiana State on March 26, 1979. They seem to be in a bit of a discussion about ball possession. Their iconic rivalry that would go on for years into pro basketball all started here, where Magic’s Michigan State basketball team would go on to beat Indiana to win the 1979 NCAA finals.
They both retired from the NBA as legends and turned their rivalry into a lasting friendship. Whenever basketball fans talk about the 80s—the Lakers and the Celtics in particular—these two rivals are reborn.
By simply judging this photograph, one would not know that Jackie Joyner-Kersee used to suffer severe asthma. But her discipline and dedication as a track and field athlete would help her overcome this and many other obstacles. She is ranked among the greatest athletes in long jump and heptathlon.
On Sept. 29, 1988, the four-time Olympic gold medalist leaped 7.40 meters to set what was then an Olympic record in the long jump before an ecstatic crowd in Seoul, Korea. There were many rumors at the time linking her to supposed illegal substance use, but investigations would never prove any such claims.