Just when you thought they were done, written off by the critics and fans alike, no place for them now but the archives.. Then out of nowhere, defying all reality they are back and on top of the world again. We are looking at some of these great comeback moments from sporting history.
No sports comeback list can be complete without mentioning Tiger Woods.
Tiger went pro in 1996 and by the end of April 1997, he had won three PGA Tour events in addition to his first major – the 1997 Masters, which he won by 12 strokes. He went on to win 14 Majors between 1997 – 2008 and dominated the golf scene for those 10 years and thrashed every player that lay in his way.
The cracks started to appear in 2009 with rumours of affairs, this kicked off a big downwards spiral for Tiger, personal issues and injury would see the former great slump down to 656 in the world.
In 2018 Woods turned things around with a top 5 in the British Open followed by a remarkable a 2nd place finish in the USPGA, his best finish in a major since 2011. 16 months since his arrest for a DUI, Tiger rapidly moved from 656 in the world to 13 in the world inside 1 season. There was a huge amount of excitement, his millions of fans around the world knew it was only a matter of time before he struck gold again, and he didn’t let those fans down. On the 23rd September 2018 Tiger Woods secures his 80th PGA tour victory winning by 2 shots.
Tiger secured his place in sporting legend on the 15th of April 2019, when he won the US Masters by 2 shots, his first major since 2008! After Jack Nicklaus he’s the only golfer to win a major in 3 different decades.
He also recently equalled the PGA Tour record of 82 tournament wins with victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan (Oct 2019)
Muhammad Ali – Rumble In the Jungle
Another immortal sporting fairy tale is Muhammad Ali regaining the world heavyweight title in 1974. Ali had last his throne and on the back foot big time, his comeback from a three-year exile imposed over his refusal to fight in the Vietnam War was not going well. He lost to Joe Frazier and Ken Norton as he tried to reclaim his title which had been stripped in his exile.
His next opponent George Foreman, knocked out both of those men inside two rounds, and heavyweight boxing had a new king. With his size, punching power and skill, Foreman looked far superior to the 32 year old Ali and few gave the former champion much hope. The ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, was the setting of one of the most famous fights ever and and sent shockwaves around the world, as Ali defeated Foreman in the eighth round with his “rope-a-dope” tactics.
Bethany Hamilton – Surfing
Bethany Hamilton began competitive surfing at age 8 but on On October 31 2003 aged only 13 she lost her entire arm when a 14-foot tiger shark attacked her as she surfed with friends in Hawaii. One of her fellow surfers applied a tourniquet made from his surfboard leash. She was then taken to Wilcox Memorial Hospital where her father happened to be awaiting knee surgery, but he was bumped to make room for his daughters emergency.
Doctors estimated that she lost almost 60% of her blood as she underwent emergency surgery . Remarkably she was released after only a few days and even more remarkably she returned to surfing just three weeks later.
The loss of an arm was not going to stop this surfer, she won the Explorer Women’s division at the 2005 NSSA National Championships, and began competing on the pro circuit in 2007
She wrote about her experience in the 2004 autobiography Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board
Nevada tennis kid Agassi, burst on to the scene in a blaze of colour and media attention winning Wimbledon in 1992 and entertaining the crowds across the tennis and sporting world for years. He reached the world No. 1 spot for the first time in 1995 but this was followed by a period of great decline. Between 96 and 98 Agassi would not win any grand slams or master series tournaments and sank to a low of No. 141 in the world in 1997 and had clearly fallen out of love with the sport. Many thought he was done with tennis.
But that wasn’t to be or we wouldn’t be writing about him in the greatest comebacks in sport! Agassi returned to No. 1 in 1999 with a French and US Open win and enjoyed the most successful run of his career over the next four years. He is still considered one of the 10 greatest mens players of all time.
There have been plenty of retirements and comebacks in sport, some forgettable and others legendary. Kim Clisters is one of notable exception, having only one one major she had retired from tennis and had her first child. Then decided to comeback for more and came back better than ever! She became only the 3rd mother to ever win a major, winning an incredible 3 on her return and hit No. 1, all while becoming one of the most beloved players of her generation.
Michael Jordan – “I’m Back”
If twitter existed in 1995, Jordan would have broken it. After an Eighteen sabbatical from basketball, he returned to the NBA by simply announcing via a simple fax: “I’m back.”
Jordan’s return to the Chicago Bulls led them to a then-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season followed by three additional championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, add in three MVP awards.
Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, ten scoring titles (both all-time records), five MVP Awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honours, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three All-Star Game MVP Awards. – Just a few reasons why Michael Jordan is considered the greatest basketball player of all time
The mightily prolific jockey retired in 1985 to train horses after a career that included 11 Champion jockey titles and over 4,000 wins. Two years later was imprisoned for tax fraud and clearly decided a need for change. in 1990 on his release he announced a return to active riding aged 55. And just 10 days after he claimed a stunning win at the Breeders’ Cup Mile on Royal Academy. He also rode another classic winner, Rodrigo de Triano, in the 2000 Guineas in 1992. Piggot retired for good in 1995 at nearly 60 years old!
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