The most famous upset in Olympic history is probably the US hockey team beating the Soviets in Lake Placid. The second greatest though might just be Rulon Gardner’s win over Soviet and Russian legend Aleksandr Karelin.
It’s hard to explain just how great a champion Karelin was. He was seen as invulnerable. The guy trained by running up and down apartment stairs while holding a refrigerator. When Gardner beat him, he hadn’t even given up a point in six years.
He was really seen as unbeatable.
Gardner, by contrast, was seen as something of a yokel, a big kid to be sure, but hardly someone who was going to beat the greatest wrestler of all time.
Yet he did, winning 1-0. After the shocking upset, Karelin said that Gardner was just so big that he could never really get a grip on him.
This isn’t a flashy video by any means but it was, and remains, one of the biggest upsets in sports history.