Greatest Rivals in Sports

Nothing in the glorious sports world can quite set the spectators’ pulses racing like a good old-fashioned rivalry. Irrespective of the event in hand, nothing represents the commitment and admirable passion wrapped up in sports better than an occasion in which two rivals go head-to-head. Sports history is chock-full of rivalries spanning generations of teams and players, pitting father against son, neighbor against neighbor, fist against face. These rivalries are the very reason players become legends and their names are written in books of sports lore.

It is also sometimes frightening and disturbing how seemingly rational and ordinary people can turn into bile-spewing hatemongers who take pleasure in anything bad that happens to their rivals. Here are just some of the greatest sport rivalries of all time; some are classic rivalries, while others are a bit more modern.

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Greatest Rivals in Sports Of course, investigating all of the greatest sport rivalries is a really difficult task and with so many rivalries having different values to different people, many will definitely be missed here. We have tried to include rivalries pertaining to a variety of sports, so read ahead to get started and view our selections.

Greatest Rivals in Sports

Boxing: Muhammad Ali v Joe Frazier

Greatest Rivals in Sports
Greatest Rivals in Sports

While many rivalries stem from lofty standing and pure talent, the enmity between Ali and Frazier seem to be rooted in a mutual dislike both warriors felt for each other. Ali’s egotistic temperament didn’t allow him to view Frazier as a worthy contender and would insult him during fights, while Frazier could never be convinced to retreat. They fought a total of three times. Frazier won the first time they met in 1971, giving Ali his first career loss. They met again at the same venue three years later, where Ali emerge victorious. Their most famous match is perhaps their third fight “Thrilla in Manila” in 1975. It was the only fight that didn’t go till the last as Frazier’s corner didn’t let him come out during the 15th round. The two were exact opposites of each other, but when they stepped in the ring, they created a magic that older boxing fans can never forget.

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Golf: Arnold Palmer v Jack Nicklaus

Greatest Rivals in Sports
Greatest Rivals in Sports

The 60s can be called the decade of golf rivalries, the most famous of which was the one between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. No Sunday was complete without Arnie and Jack competing on the links. The rivalry between The King and The Golden Bear lasted over three decades and single handedly made golf a bonanza for television. They played 25 majors together and their playoff duel in the 1962 US Open is truly unforgettable. Palmer and Nicklaus were the exact opposites of each other and attracted a contrasting fan base. Nicklaus grew up playing on private country clubs, while Palmer was the everyman that spectators flocked to. Regardless of their differences, they will always be one of golf’s enduring rivalries.

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IndyCar Rivalry: Mario Andretti v AJ Foyt

Greatest Rivals in Sports
Greatest Rivals in Sports

Andretti and Foyt naturally became rivals with both dominating auto racing. While their rivalry spanned two decades, they had nothing but respect and admiration for each other. Both of them are notable for playing fairly, and they faced each other numerous times in the Indy 500 and the Champ car circuit. Both of them have won the Indy 500, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the Daytona 500. They even retired at about the same time – Foyt in 1993 and Andretti in 1994.

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