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Top 10 most iconic images in the history of sports

Krishna Chandra

Every sport has the capacity to leave you with memorable memories that you will cherish for years to come. And to be able to capture it in a picture is even better! Over the years, there have been quite a few iconic images of different sports, images that defined the era. Here, we try to look at 10 of the best in history.

Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield

Perhaps the most iconic images in the history of Professional Boxing is the sight of Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear.

This was the second encounter between the two, with the first fight ending in Holyfield winning by TKO, in the process flooring Tyson, which was only the second time that happened in his career.

Therefore, you could understand Tyson’s frustration when even in the re-match Holyfield was dominating him. And Tyson being Tyson, decided that biting off his ear, not once but twice, was a perfectly normal thing to do!

As a result of this, Mike Tyson’s licence was temporarily revoked and he was fined a fee of $3 million.

Brandi Chastain

It is a common enough sight to see male football players taking off their shirts in celebration when they score a goal. But women, for obvious reasons, don’t do so.

But Brandi Chastain did not give too much thought when she scored the winning penalty in the final of the 1999 Women’s World Cup against China. Her celebration was genuine and honest, and this is what she had to say later on, “Momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I thought, ‘This is the greatest moment of my life on the soccer field.”

Her celebration became one of the most iconic images of any woman athlete celebrating a victory.

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time, at least with respect to the number of medals he has won.

On the way to winning all of his 22 medals, he broke many records, especially in the 2008 Olympics. It was during his quest to win his 7th medal at the Games when this iconic image was taken.

As you can see in the picture, Phelps finished just 0.1 seconds ahead of his fellow competitor, Serbian Milorad Cavic. There was a bit of controversy as the Serbians appealed against the results, but further analysis by FINA confirmed that Phelps made it first.

The difference between the two was so close that the panel had to look at images as much 1/10,000th of a second apart.

Diego Maradona

Is there anyone who has not seen this image before?

Diego Maradona was known for his iconic “Hand of God” goal as much as he was for his extraordinary skills on the football field. This happened in the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinal against England. The match was already being played on the background of the Falklands War and emotions were running high.

In perhaps the most controversial goal ever scored on the football field, Diego Maradona seemed to have used his hand instead of his head to push the ball into the net, scoring the goal that Argentina needed.

When asked at that time, Maradona had this to say – “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God.”, thus giving the infamous goal its name.

Jack Nicklaus

To paraphrase the words of famous comedian Chris Rock, “How many 46 year olds do you know who are just going about doing stuff?” Well, Jack Nicklaus did exactly that when he won his record 18th major.

In the 1986 Augusta Masters, he shot a 65, making him the oldest man to win a major to stand alongside his record tally of 18 majors.

Both records still stand, even though Tiger Woods may still have a chance of eclipsing both records. But that is for another day.

Jesse Owens

Imagine going to Hitler’s Germany and defying his theory of Aryan supremacy! Jesse Owens did just that.

The 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany and it was Hitler’s chance to showcase the Nazi supremacy to the world. As everybody knows, the Nazis had the theory that the Aryans were the supreme race while Africans were inferior.

But Jesse Owens lit up Berlin with his performances, winning as many as 4 gold medals, with one of them coming in the Long Jump. While it was understandable that Hitler seemed to not have acknowledged Jesse, it was even worse that FDR did not acknowledge him either.

Nadia Comaneci

We’ve all heard the saying that nobody’s perfect. But Nadia Comaneci proved everyone wrong.

In the gymnastics event at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, she scored a perfect 10 at the event, which was never done before. In fact, nobody expected a gymnast to be able to achieve the perfect 10 and so there was only space for one digit on the scoreboard.

When the judges conferred and gave their verdict, the picture became one of the most iconic images in athletics.

Bob Beamon

Another athlete who defied the existing norms was Bob Beamon when he leaped more than the distance the optical device could measure!

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, he leaped 8.9 metres, which was a good 2 feet longer than the existing world record! He jumped farther than the far end of the sand pit at which the optical device to measure the jump is placed. They had to take the help of tapes to finally come up with the right figure.

Bob Beamon’s jump was so good that there was even an adjective named after him – beamonesque!

Tommie Smith and John Carlos

You don’t get too many big stages to make a point, and perhaps the medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics was as big as any that Tommie Smith and John Carlos could get.

Tommie Smith finished first in the 200 metre sprint while John Carlos finished 3rd. While the American anthem was being played at the medal ceremony, both raised a black-gloved fist as a sign of protest.

While it was claimed that it was a black power salute, Tommie Smith and John Carlos later clarified that it was more of a human rights protest. Australian Peter Norman, who finished second, was also sporting a Human Rights badge.

They were, of course, kicked out of the Games for the protest.

Michael Jordan

For all the things that Michael Jordan has achieved in his NBA career, this is perhaps the most iconic moment he will be remembered for.

During Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan came up with one of the best Clutch performances in history. But with seconds remaining, Michael Jordan came up with the goods, shooting right at the buzzer.

The Bulls completed another three-peat, thanks to Michael Jordan’s extraordinary performance.

Edited by Staff Editor

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