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10 Most Iconic Sports Photographs in History

Muhammad Ali | © John Rooney / AP / REX / Shutterstock
Muhammad Ali | © John Rooney / AP / REX / Shutterstock
Picture of Michael LoRé
Sports Editor
Updated: 16 October 2018
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Photographs can evoke a whole host of emotions, from pure joy to heartbreaking defeat. Here are some of the most iconic photos in sports history.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
© John Rooney / AP / REX / Shutterstock

“Get up and fight, sucker!” Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali stands over Sonny Liston, the man he snatched the title from the previous year, following a first-round knockout in a championship rematch on May 25, 1965.

Roger Bannister

Roger Bannister
Tullio Saba/Flickr

In one of the greatest singular athletic achievements ever, Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes (3:59.4) on May 6, 1954. The 25-year-old medical student from London reached “one of man’s hitherto unattainable goals,” The New York Times declared.

“Black Power” Salute

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock (7378484a) U.S. athletes Tommie Smith, center, and John Carlos stare downward while extending gloved hands skyward during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner after Smith received the gold and Carlos the bronze for the 200 meter run at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman is at left. Former Olympic sprint stars and civil activists Tommie Smith and John Carlos became famous when they raised their gloved fists on the medal podium at the 1968 Mexico City Games. On Monday, they return to where they shined on campus at San Jose State and now have a 23-foot statue, helping the university announce it is reinstating its track and field program Speed City Olympics Athletics, MEXICO CITY, Mexico

American sprinters Tommie Smith (center) and John Carlos (right) raise gloved fists on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City on October 16, 1968. The duo planned to boycott the Games in protest of racial inequality, but instead utilized the platform to make their statement. In his autobiography, Carlos said the demonstration wasn’t a Black Power salute, but a “human rights salute.”

Kerri Strug

Mandatory Credit: Photo by JOHN GAPS III/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6506544n) STRUG USA's Kerri Strug is carried by her coach, Bela Karolyi, as she waves to the crowd on her way to receiving her gold medal for the women's team gymnastics competition, at the Centennial Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta on . Strugg has two torn ligaments and a sprained ankle from the vault competition 1996 Summer Olympics, ATLANTA, USA

Holding a slim lead over Russia in the women’s gymnastics team competition at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Kerri Strug overcame torn ligaments in her ankle to help bring Team USA its first-ever gold medal in the team all-around. Strug, who got hurt on her first vault, stepped up again to seal the win for the Americans. Here’s she’s being carried by U.S. coach Béla Kérolyi.

Eddie Gaedel

Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (6649544a) The owner of the St. Louis Browns, Bill Veeck, sent in Eddie Gaedel, a 3-foot, 7-inch stuntman, to pinch-hit in a game against Detroit at Sportsman's Park, in St. Louis, on . Gaedel walked on four pitches ST. LOUIS BROWNS TIGERS, ST. LOUIS, USA

Standing at 3 feet, 7 inches, Eddie Gaedel became the first little person in Major League Baseball (MLB) history when he stepped to the plate on August 19, 1951, as a member of the St. Louis Browns. Wearing “1/8” on his jersey, Gaedel walked on four pitches in the first inning.

Miracle on Ice

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6605545b) Jim Craig The United States ice hockey team rushes toward goalie Jim Craig after their 4-3 upset win over the Soviet Union in the semi-final round of the XIII Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. It's been more than three decades since his landmark goal became the centerpiece of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's Miracle on Ice. For 60-year-old Mike Eruzione, it still seems like only yesterday OLY Miracle at 35, LAKE PLACID, USA

“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” The United States men’s ice hockey team shocked the Soviet Union 4-3 to win the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Soviets had won gold in five of the previous six Games, but were shocked on February 22, 1980, by the Americans in what Sports Illustrated named the top sports moment of the 20th century.

Derek Jeter

Mandatory Credit: Photo by FRANK FRANKLIN II/AP/REX/Shutterstock (6406208k) New York Yankees' Derek Jeter dives to catch a fly ball in the twelfth inning against the Boston Red Sox at New York's Yankee Stadium, . Jeter left the game and was injured on the play. The Yankees won the game, 5-4 RED SOX YANKEES, NEW YORK, USA

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter sacrifices his body by diving into the stands to make a catch against rivals Boston on July 1, 2004. It’s one of the most memorable catches of Jeter’s illustrious 20-year career in pinstripes. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 5-4 in 13 innings.

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin
© AP/REX/Shutterstock

One of the most famous track and field athletes, American Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, much to the chagrin of Adolf Hitler whose propaganda machine was promoting the “superior Aryan race.” Owens proudly salutes on the podium after winning the long jump on August 4, 1936, surrounded by others giving the Nazi salute.

Brandi Chastain

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Bildbyran/REX/Shutterstock (5898557a) Brandi Chastain takes off her shirt as she celebrates after kicking the winning goal in a shoot out against China Women's World Cup Final, USA v China, The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, USA - 10 Jul 1999

American Brandi Chastain famously took off her jersey and fell to her knees in celebration after scoring the winning penalty kick in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against China on July 10, 1999. She described the celebration as “momentary insanity, nothing more, nothing less.”

Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick (center) kneels during the national anthem prior to a 2016 NFL game
© Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took to a knee during the national anthem to protest civil and racial injustices in the United States for the first time during a preseason game on September 1, 2016. Kaepernick, who had previously sat during The Star-Spangled Banner the week earlier, continues his social activism while being blacklisted from the National Football League (NFL).

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