“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.
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
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.”
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.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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).