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Pundit Arena’s Top Five Individual Sporting Comebacks

With the euphoria and nostalgia surrounding Tiger Woods’s victory at Augusta National yesterday to collect his fifth Masters title, it got us thinking…

Woods hadn’t won a major since the 2008 US Open with his last Masters title coming three years beforehand. A fall from grace over his personal life saw him slip to golf’s rankings and following a succession of back surgeries he fell below 1000th in the world but last night he returned to glory with aplomb.

It may well be the greatest comeback in sporting history but there are other tales out there of amazing sporting achievement.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after sinking his putt on the 18th green to win during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

There are so many to choose from but here at Pundit Arena HQ, we’ve narrowed it down to five comebacks that highlight individual greatness.

So, in no particular order, here goes…


Muhammad Ali’s Return To Boxing

After refusing to be inducted into the US Army in 1967 he was stripped of his World Heavyweight titles and faced jail time.

Ali was effectively banned from the sport for three years because various athletic commissions from around the USA refused to grant him a license.

Muhammad Ali (r) punches George Foreman (c) during their world heavyweight title boxing match in 1974, while a referee looks on.

He eventually returned to the ring in 1970 where he faced Joe Frazier in what was billed as ‘The Fight of the Century’, however, Ali suffered a unanimous decision loss.

In 1974 at the age of 32. Ali was given the chance to fight for the world title again, this time against George Foreman in the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, a huge heavyweight who was dominating opponents left, right and centre.

Muhammad Ali (far left) knocks George Foreman (far right) onto his back during the eighth round of their world heavyweight title boxing match in 1974.

Muhammad Ali was given no chance in the contest but incredibly managed to knock “Big George” out in the eighth round following his now famous ‘rope-a-dope’ tactics in what was one of the greatest upset victories in the history of Boxing.


George Foreman Wins World Heavyweight Title Aged 45

It’s funny how sport works.

After getting knocked out by Muhammad Ali and having his heavyweight title taken away, Foreman slipped into relative obscurity before retiring in 1977 at just 28-years old.

LAS VEGAS, NV – NOVEMBER 5: George Foreman, right, fights Michael Moorer, left, in a heavyweight fight November 5, 1994 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Foreman won the fight by KO in the tenth round. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Amazingly, Foreman returned to the ring 10-years later, double-jobbing as an ordained minister at the same time.

Following a series of low-level fights, Foreman failed in his attempt to regain the heavyweight crown losing on points to Evander Holyfield, however, he returned three years later to defeat Michael Moorer via tenth round knockout to reclaim the world title and become the oldest ever champion in the process.

5 Nov 1994: George Foreman wins a round during a bout against Michael Moorer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Foreman won the fight with a knockout in the tenth round. Mandatory Credit: Al Bello /Allsport

Foreman’s win came a full 20-years after his defeat to Ali.


Nikki Lauda Returns To F1 Just 45 Days After Suffering Severe Burns

The Austrian Formula One driver was cruising towards a second World Championship in 1976 when disaster struck at the German Grand Prix in Nurburgring.

Austrian Grand Prix racing car driver Niki Lauda watches, late 1970s. Lauda was badly burned in a crash during the 1976 season but returned to race shortly afterwards. (Photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images)

The Ferrari driver was involved in a crash when his vehicle swerved off course and into an embankment. The car exploded into flames as Lauda was trapped among the wreckage, suffering severe burns to his entire body.

Amazingly, he returned to action just 45 days after being pulled to safety and would eventually go on to win two more drivers championships before finally retiring for the second time in 1985.


Peyton Manning Wins A Second Superbowl In Final NFL Game

He’s finished… done for.

That was the rhetoric that followed Peyton Manning after receiving a succession of neck and spinal surgeries in 2011. The famed quarterback was unable to throw the ball following the surgery and had to teach himself all over again.

DENVER, CO – JANUARY 11: Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos walks off the field after losing 24-13 to the Indianapolis Colts in a 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 11, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

With the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback, Andrew Luck and released Peyton Manning.

Manning signed with the Denver Broncos and would go on to become the NFL’s leader in all-time passing touchdowns in 2014 before finally winning a second Superbowl ring in 2015, his final season.


Vinny Pazienza Wins World Title After Being Told He’d Never Walk Again

In 1991, Vinny Pazienza defeated Gilbert Delé to become WBA world junior middleweight champion following a 12th-round TKO, becoming the second fighter in boxing history to win both the lightweight and junior middleweight world championships.

25 Jun 1994: Vinny Pazienza (left) and Roberto Duran in action during a bout in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein /Allsport

However, later that year the world champion was involved in a car accident that saw him suffer a broken neck forcing him to relinquish his title.

Doctors informed Pazienza that he might never walk again and that fighting was certainly out of the question. He had a medical device called a Halo screwed into his skull for three months but still kept up a workout regime despite doctors telling him not too.

25 Jun 1994: Vinny Pazienza celebrates after defeating Roberto Duran in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mandatory Credit: Holly Stein /Allsport

Astonishingly, he returned to the ring 13 months after the accident and would go on to win world titles once again within 18 months of being told he would never fight again.


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