How many times have we been surprised at outcomes and results? Stuff like basketball teams winning at buzzer beaters, runners coming from behind and winning races — same for horses? Wow! What a rush to experience, witness and learn about unexpected upsets. Politics has experienced such wins, as well. Yep, in life, underdogs do astound and beat the odds against them.
In the bible, we read of the story of Gideon and how he and those chosen by God to battle with him were outnumbered. That book of Judges account is a favorite of the many folks who are familiar with it. Added to the inspiration of the story is that Gideon was poor and the least in his father’s house but, nonetheless, called by God to judge and to lead three hundred men to victory. Judges 6:15 – KJV, “And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” Ecclesiastes 9:15, “ Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; . . .” Highly outnumbered in the physical realm but packed with spiritual power because they were on an assignment for God and thus the win was assured and accomplished triumphantly. Woo wee!
Like minded people have immense love, honor and respect for the deeds of Grace Lorch, a White school teacher and civil rights activist. It was Lorch who, in 1957, stepped forward to rescue one of the Little Rock Nine students, Elizabeth Eckford, from a hostile mob. I marvel at the care and bravery of a lone White woman who risked herself to save that terrified child. The film footage is gripping in intensity — to watch what Lorch was up against, and she an obvious dissenter to what people of her own race were doing. In my view, it’s impossible to view that footage and not be deeply affected. Who expected such an act of valor? It’s seared in my memory.
Lorch’s husband, Lee, was also deeply involved in the civil rights movement. He lost more than one job for his valor and resistance against hatred, racism and injustices. In 2010, when asked if he would do anything differently. His reply, “More and better of the same.” Admiration swells for what he and his wife did, and for others who persist in doing deeds that are caring, brave, and reformative.
In the Great Depression, to make ends meet, boxer James Braddock worked as a longshoreman. There were folks who considered Braddock a washed out boxer with no chance of an effective comeback. Evidently, Max Baer (father of actor Max Baer, Jr. who played Jethro Bodine in the Beverly Hillbillies series) was one of those who doubted Braddock. Baer was overconfident, and barely trained for his 1935 fight with Braddock — Baer was twenty-six; Braddock was thirty years old.
Braddock went into the ring as a 10-1 underdog. Baer wasn’t prepared and likely didn’t even consider that he wouldn’t win. He and his team looked forward to an easy payday. But that was not to be. Braddock won by unanimous decision. Unexpected indeed! After that fight, Braddock was dubbed “The Cinderella Man.” Russell Crowe portrayed Braddock in the movie of the same name. I highly recommend it to anyone who has never seen it.
Later in the ring, Braddock, for the first and only time in his career was knocked down by Joe Louis, nicknamed “The Brown Bomber.” Louis expressed that James Braddock was the bravest man he’d ever fought.
Boxing fans from the 1990s and likely beyond will never forget the man who sent Mike Tyson to the ring mat in a stunning and certainly unexpected blow. Folks had heralded Tyson as unbeatable, which is unreasonable because there’s not a person on this planet who is unbeatable. Buster Douglas, a relative unknown in many circles, gained the heavyweight title from so-called Iron Mike, who at the time was the undefeated heavyweight champion. Well, for the first time in his career, on that epic night, the Iron got floored. Douglas went in the ring as a 42-1 underdog and came out as heavyweight champion. His triumph over Tyson was the biggest upset in the history of heavyweight championship fights. An utter shock, and unexpected for sure, to the folks who’d determined a Tyson win as a foregone conclusion.
In the Sydney 2002 Olympics, Australian Susan O’Neill was favored to win the 200 meter butterfly. She was competing in her home country and in previous years, she’d been undefeated in that event. American Misty Hyman was expected to win a silver medal. She’d failed to qualify in the 1996 Olympics. Also, it was reported that only months before the 2000 games, Hyman had almost quit swimming. Well, unexpectedly, she won the gold medal beating O’Neill by 7/10 of a second.
Yep, there are so many unexpected outcomes, some pleasant and some unpleasant — such is life.
The actor, Terrence Howard, shared how his mother was on the way to abort him but told his uncle to turn the car around — she’d decided not to do it. And now we have Howard as one of the best actors on the planet.
How many famous people are dyslexic but contrary to expectations, excelled? What about Grammy winner, violinist/conductor, teacher, Itzhak Perlman, stricken with polio at age four yet excels in his crafts? Numerous folks who rose from poverty have succeeded in various professions, some in outstanding ways. The list goes on — unexpectedly.