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An underdog is a person or group in a competition, usually in sports and creative works, who is popularly expected to lose. The party, team or individual expected to win is called the favorite or top dog. In the case where an underdog wins, the outcome is an upset. These terms are commonly used in sports betting. The use of the term is believed to have come from the blood-sport known as bear-baiting where the "top-dog" was trained to attack the bear's throat and head, and the "underdog" was trained to attack the bear's underside. The top-dog had a better chance of surviving and of beating the bear, whereas the underdog was more likely to die.
Victories by underdogs 
- King Sudas defeated the ten Rigvedic tribes during the Battle of the Ten Kings.
- The Greek states successfully repelled the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire at the Battle of Salamis.
- Alexander the Great beat Darius III when he was greatly outnumbered.
- The people of Rhodes in resisting the siege imposed by King Demetrius I of Macedon.
- Hannibal defeated the numerically superior Roman forces at the Battle of Cannae during the Second Punic War.
- Sun Tzu, of Wu, with 33,000 men, being outnumbered by Chu ten to one, defeated the Chu forces.
- Arminius and the Germanic tribes victory over the numerically superior and better equipped forces of the Roman Empire at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
- The Parthians, who were outnumbered four to one, defeated the Romans at the Battle of Carrhae.
- In c. 1400 B.C., Joshua led 40,000 Israelites to victory in the Battle of Jericho.
- The Arab army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid defeated the numerically superior forces of the powerful Persian and Roman empires during their conquest of Persia and conquest of Roman Syria.
- In 209 AD, in the Three Kingdoms era of China at the Battle of Red Cliffs, the combined 50,000 forces of Sun Quan and Liu Bei were able to defeat the overwhelming 220,000+ forces of Cao Cao.
- The Scottish army of Robert the Bruce, outnumbered almost three to one, defeated the English force of Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn.
- During the Battle of Salsu, General Eulji Mundeok of Goguryeo was victorious over 305,000 Sui Dynasty men.
- The Battle of Puebla in May 5, 1862, where Mexican forces defeated the more prepared French army in the Franco-Mexican War.
- The Hussites in Bohemia defeated several anti-Hussite crusades and foreign invaders (1420–1434) who significantly outnumbered them
- The Knights Hospitaller triumphed against the overwhelming Ottoman forces during the Great Siege of Malta.
- In the 1552 siege of Eger, 2,100 Hungarians were able to withstand the onslaught of 80,000 Ottoman soldiers.
- The defending English fleet was victorious over the "invincible" Spanish Armada in June 1588.
- The Royal Air Force beat the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain (1940) despite being largely outnumbered, thanks to the use of radar.
- Finland held out against the Soviet Union during the Winter War.
- The Viet Minh triumphed over French colonial forces in the Indochina War while the NLF + North Vietnam eroded, exhausted and ultimately outlasted the United States and South Vietnam in the Vietnam War.
- The Battle of Saragarhi was fought during the Tirah Campaign on 12 September 1897 between twenty-one Sikhs of the 4th Battalion (then 36th Sikhs) of the Sikh Regiment of British India, defending an army post, and 10,000 Afghan and Orakzai tribesmen.
- Attorney Clarence Darrow made a famous career in successfully defending several famous and disadvantaged criminal defendants in court.
- The Battle of Aljubarrota that took place on August 14, 1385, 6,500 Portuguese troops defeated the invading Spanish army of 31,000 men.
- The Battle of Myeongnyang that took place on October 26, 1597. With only 13 battleships, Korean general Yi Sun-Shin defeated a Japanese fleet of 133 battleships.
- In the American Revolutionary War, the American colonists, along with its allies, successfully declared war and achieved independence from the British Empire.
American politics 
- On July 16, 1950, during the 1950 FIFA World Cup final in Brazil, Uruguay defeated the highest ranked team in the world and seemingly certain winners, Brazil, 2-1 to win the tournament in one of the greatest upsets ever in Brazilian football history. Another upset in the tournament was the USA victory over the highly-ranked England, 1-0.
- In the 1954 FIFA World Cup, Germany defeated Hungary 3-2 from 2-0 down to win the final. The amazing upset is called the Miracle of Bern. Hungary's Golden Team had dominated the sport for several years in the 1950s, including beating the Germans 8-3 in the first round of the tournament. The final was their first and only defeat during that period.
- In 1963 lowly Newport RFC beat the All Blacks – the only defeat of their 36 match tour.
- In 1980, the United States hockey team, consisting of amateurs and college players, defeated the Olympic hockey superpower, the Soviet Union. The amazing upset was called the "Miracle on Ice".
- In 1992, driver/owner Alan Kulwicki was just 30 points behind points leader Davey Allison entering the 1992 Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the last race of the 1992 season. Kulwicki rallied back into contention after a crash at Dover and was 278 points behind Bill Elliott with six races to go and most likely out of the title race. With problems among the top contenders in the ladder part of the season, his Ford "Underbird" (named it because he felt like the underdog) was back in the hunt after a string of great runs, and at the finale, Kulwicki led one more lap than Elliott (103-102) to clinch the title and win it by 10 points. He was the last driver-owner to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, until on November 20, 2011, Tony Stewart won the NASCAR sprint cup championship over Carl Edwards in similar circumstances to Kulwicki. Stewart won through a tiebreaker as points were matched, Stewart won on number of wins, Stewart's 5 to Edward's 1. Stewart won the championship for his own team Stewart-Haas Racing making him the first driver-owner to win the NASCAR Sprint cup championship since Kulwicki.
- In the 1996 Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka defeated top ranked Australia in the final in front of the sell out Lahore Crowd. Sri Lanka's game style over the course of the series revolutionized One Day International Cricket, and was characterized by highly aggressive batting in the first fifteen overs of the innings in order to take advantage of the fielding restrictions imposed during this period. This strategy has since become a hallmark of One Day International cricket. Sri Lanka is the only ICC Trophy winning team to have gone on to win the Cricket World Cup.
- In the Euro 2004 football competition, Greece, which some sports books gave 150-1 odds to win at the start of the tournament, defeated the hosts Portugal in their opening match, also the defending champions France, then favourites Czech Republic in the semi-finals, and Portugal again in the final, to win the trophy in probably the most unexpected victory in football history.
Song contests 
- A clear example is Ksenia Sitnik, winner of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2005 representing Belarus. Not only her song My Vmeste wasn't popular prior to the contest: One poll even placed her last with no points. However, she got to win.
- Alekhine's own defeat by Max Euwe in 1935, after a series of 30 games.
See also