10 Most Iconic Photographs in Sports History (UPDATED)

This is a collection of the most unique, powerful and moving photographs ever taken in the world of sports. Here we are with the Iconic Photographs in Sports.

10 Most Iconic Photographs in Sports History

Unhappy Mickey Mantle Tossed His Helmet after Bad At-Bat

10 Most Iconic Photographs in Sports History (Part 1)

Iconic Photographs in Sports – Unhappy Mickey Mantle

This shot captured by John Dominis in 1965 is considered as one of the most powerful photo of a sports hero in decline and pain. Despite being a good player most of his career, Mantle suffered with injuries and alcohol addiction. This picture taken in the Yankee Stadium perfectly seizes the wounded pride of a declining sportsman.

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Y.A. Tittle during His Final NFL Season

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Y.A. Tittle

September 20, 1964, photographer Morris Berman while covering the NFL Season took a picture of Y.A. Tittle who was kneeling on the field, bloodied, with his helmet in his hand. Little did he know that the shot will win him a National Headliner Award and be looked upon as the one of the most fantastic photograph in sports history and sports journalism. Regarded as an excellent example of how a moment’s reaction can be captured in sports, this shot literally changed the way photography was done during games. Tittle had used this picture as back cover to his autobiography. Now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this famous photo marked the end of Y.A. Tittle successful career.

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Willie Mays Makes ‘The Catch’

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – The Catch

On September 29, 1954 adrenalins was high in a game between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians. The scores were tied and spectators were biting their nails down to their bones when Vic Wertz blasted the ball into the air. Instantly Willy Mays scrambled across the field and made an insanely impossible over the shoulder catch that hitched people’s breathing.

The Catch (Willie Mays)
Fun fact:  A certain Dr. Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois revealed in 2003 that had the weather at the time been one notch higher (from 73 degree Fahrenheit), Mays would have missed the catch cause the ball would’ve travelled a further 2 inch distance. As if we bloody care!

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Derek Redmond Finished an Olympic Race with His Dad

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Derek Redmond with His Dad

The world remembers Derek Anthony Redmond for the courage he showed in 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. Midway to a 250 metres run, Redmond tore his hamstring. He hobbled forth and collapsed on the ground, groaning in agonizing pain. He was a broken man, crying as he sat with his crushed dreams of Olympic win.

Powerful Inspirational true story...Don't give up!

Amazingly when the stretcher bearer reached him, he stood up and began limping forward. Cheers rose from the spectators and soon Redmond found himself leaning on his father’s shoulder who joined his son on the track. Together they crossed the finish line with 65,000 spectators standing up for an ovation.

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University Of Pittsburgh Students Witnessed The Pirates Win In The World Series From A Roof

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – University Of Pittsburgh

I’d say this is the coolest sports fan photo ever. George Skill took this magnificent picture where the students of the University of Pittsburgh are captured cheering wildly for the Pittsburgh Pirates. On occasion of the Pirates winning the World Series after 35 goddamn long years, the enthusiastic students clustered atop the Cathedral of Learning and although all they could see was ant-shaped players moving below, they managed to understand what was going on. This excellent picture was captured on October 13th 1960.

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Eddie Gaedel: The Only Little Person to Have Played In Major League Baseball

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Eddie Gaedel

Before his famous public appearance, Gaedel (at 3’7” tall) was a performer, a bartender and had also been a riveter during World War II. In 1951, Gaedel was invited by the owner of the most pathetic baseball team Bill Veeck for a publicity stunt. During the match Gaedel popped out and went straight into the field greeted by thousands of spectators who were promised ‘a surprise’ by Veeck. Little did anyone realise that they were witnessing one of sports history’s most rare moments. Because after Eddie Gaedel, such appearances never occurred.

Fun fact: Gaedel was paid a hefty amount of $100 for his public stunt and he further made a whopping $17,000 through TV appearances.

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1968 Olympics Black Power Salute

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – The Black Power Salute

During the 1968 Summer Olympics athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos staged a protest to draw attention to the state of black people in America. Upon winning they entered the podium wearing black socks and no shoe as a glaring instance of poverty the black community lived in. Will Smith wore a black scarf marking black pride; Carlos had his tracksuit unzipped on the top to show solidarity. He also had a bead of necklace around his neck to mourn for all those people lost to hateful lynching.

When the American national anthem was being played both Smith and Carlos had their hands (covered in black gloves) risen in a fist – a gesture that many call ‘Black Power Salute’ but Smith prefers calling them ‘human right salute’.

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When Jesse Owens Won Gold in Germany under Nazi Regime

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Jesse Owens Won Gold

Jesse Owens took the world by storm and literally spat on Hitler’s face and his Nazi propagandas during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. During a time when the Nazi leader was murdering millions of people and shameless pushing their ‘we-are-Aryans, therefore-superior’ concept, Jesse Owens an African-American track and field athlete participated in the Summer Olympics. By winning 4 gold medals he singlehandedly crushed Hitler’s myth of German superiority in front of the world. To this Hilter countered by saying that Owens was a primitive creature who lived in jungle therefore was stronger that civilised white Germans. Duh! Bet the secretly wanted to throw Owens into a gas chamber.

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When Diego Maradona Took On 6 Defenders Singlehandedly

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Diego Maradona

So as it happens, once (like so many other times) Maradona was out there on the field (in the 1982 World Cup) determined to conquer the world. At some moment into the match, 6 men of the opposing team decided to take on this single man. So with perfect timing one of the sports photographers managed to take a shot that went down in sports history books.

However in July 2014, Dailymail claimed that this spectacular photograph is a trick. That was a result of perfect timing and perfect angle that made Maradona look like he’s taking on 6 men head-on.

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The Day Muhammad Ali Stood Over Sonny Liston

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Iconic Photographs in Sports – Muhammad Ali

No matter who you are and what you do, if you’re a netizen, you must have came across this picture. Captured by photographer Neil Leifer, this powerful photography was taken in sport history’s most controversial not-to-mention famous match between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston. During the final moments of the fight Ali knocked down Liston so badly that the spectators went into frenzy. Liston tried getting up but couldn’t, as Ali’s figure hovered over his body yelling, “Get up and fight, sucker!”

Fun fact: While Muhammad Ali won the fight many believe that the match was fixed. Moreover Liston had later said after receiving a punch and falling that he did not get up because he couldn’t hear the timekeeper counting. Given the kind of chaos in the stand among opposing fans, some people believe Liston’s word.

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So which one is your favorite in this list of Iconic Photographs in Sports. We’ll love to hear from your side in the comments below.