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Sport’s most memorable David vs Goliath moments

British heavyweight boxer David Haye faces a mammoth task in Nuremberg tonight as he attempts to wrest the WBA Heavyweight title from the mountainous champion Nikolai Valuev. The Hayemaker is dwarfed by his 7ft 2in opponent to such a degree that the fight couldn’t possibly be billed as anything other than David vs Goliath.

The idea of the overmatched underdog taking on and beating an opponent with superior strength and talent is one of sport’s most compelling dreams. But it doesn’t always work out that way. And there’s more to the David and Goliath concept than seemingly mismatched individuals, sometimes it can relate to entire teams.

To mark David Haye’s world heavyweight title challenge, the Sports Bloke has compiled a short list of the most memorable David vs Goliath moments in sport.

1) Nate Robinson rejects Yao Ming
November 2006, Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks defending their homecourt against the Houston Rockets. Rockets all-star, 7ft 6in Yao Ming receives the ball in the low post and prepares to make a jump shot. From the weakside, the Knicks ever-energetic sixth man, 5ft 7in Nate Robinson goes airborne to swat Yao’s shot away, poking the “Great Wall” in the eye for good measure. You’d like to think Yao’s teammates ensured he never lived this down. Winner: David
Watch: Nate Robinson rejects Yao Ming

2) Jonah Lomu dominates Tony Underwood
New Zealander Jonah Lomu burst onto the world sports scene courtesy of his dominant performances at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Left-winger Lomu, described by England captain Will Carling as a physical “freak”, was the size of most forwards but with pace that would shame most backs. You had to feel for the opposition right wing who directly faced him.
When New Zealand faced England in the tounament’s semi-finals, Tony Underwood had this onerous task. He was dwarfed by Lomu’s size and destroyed by his strength. Lomu ran rings around him for 80 minutes, running in four tries as New Zealand cruised into the final. At one point, Lomu actually ran over Underwood and teammate Mike Catt before crossing the line. Winner: Goliath
Watch: Jonah Lomu destroys England

3) The ultimate act of FA Cup giantkilling
The 1988 FA Cup final proved beyond doubt that David can defeat Goliath in a team game. In the red corner, Liverpool, the finest team in the country, league champions with international class players throughout their squad. In the blue corner, Wimbledon, the team known as the Crazy Gang, a team of wind-up merchants renowned for their long ball tactics, who, 10 years previously, had been playing in non-league football.
For Goliath, read John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Alan Hansen. For David, read John Fashanu, Dave Beasant and Dennis Wise. In TV terms, it was the equivalent of the University Challenge episode of the Young Ones where Vivian, Neil, Mike and Rik represent Scumbag College against a team of Oxbridge toffs.
However they managed it, the Dons got under Liverpool’s collective skin. They had the temerity to take the lead when Lawrie Sanchez flicked Wise’s free kick inside Liverpool’s far post. When Beasant saved a John Aldridge penalty (the first in FA Cup final history), the game was up for Liverpool. They were the victims of the most famous FA Cup giantkilling. Winner: David

4) When Goliath squashed David
Whether or not you consider professional wrestling a sport, there’s no denying that Wrestlemania 3 provided the WWF’s ultimate David vs Goliath moment. And I’m not talking about the Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant main event. Cast your eye further down the card and you’ll see a six-man tag team match featuring King Kong Bundy and two midgets vs Hillbilly Jim and two midget partners.
Memorably described by commentator Gorilla Monsoon as “a condominium with legs”, the 440-pound Bundy made an ultimately forgettable (and possibly bad taste) match memorable when he was disqualified for body-slamming the 4ft 4in, 60-pound midget Little Beaver and followed it up with his trademark giant elbow drop. Winner beyond doubt: Goliath
Watch: King Kong Bundy marmelises midget at Wrestlemania 3

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Hirsute heroes: the greatest beards in sport

The Denver Nuggets cult shot-blocking star Chris Andersen has revealed plans to go from Birdman to Beardman. According to the Denver Post, Andersen was recently spotted in Yellowstone National Park sporting a “thickening beard” complimenting his many tattoos.

The Nuggets big man explained he has no intention of shaving until his wedding which takes place in June 2010. By which time, Andersen will most likely resemble a towering version of 1970s kids TV star Catweazel or Mick Fleetwood’s younger brother.

Andersen’s commitment to season-long face fuzz could ultmately place him in sport’s hall of fame for hirsute heroes. Here’s my current top 5 beards in sport.

Bill Walton
Paving the way for the Birdman, NBA legend Bill Walton’s unique ginger “chinstrap” beard and long red hair combination struck fear into the hearts of anybody foolish enough to take the ball to the hoop in the 1970s. Walton own view: “I had the only beard in the Western Hemisphere that made Bob Dylan’s look good”.

Mike Commodore
Ice hockey is a sport where beards are commonplace but no player matches the fantastic furriness of Mike Commodore. Cross Ronald McDonald with a lumberjack and you’ll be close. Commodore’s run to the Stanley Cup finals in 2004 with Calgary and with Carolina two years later gave his beard more than enough exposure to earn a place on my list.

Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart
Augmenting his US marine-style jarhead with a ZZ Top goatee gave Jim Neidhart a unique look. The Anvil, with partner Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart was a two-time WWF tag team champion in his grappling prime. And before you correctly point out that wrestling isn’t a sport, Neidhart makes the list thanks to his pre-wrestling NFL experience with the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.

Alan Cork
Footballers tend to be a superstitious lot and former Crazy Gang member Alan Cork was no different. In 1993, Cork was playing for Sheffield United and refused to shave in a bid to keep the Blades’ FA Cup run going. The result? A grey/white beard akin to that of Christopher Lee in Lord of the Rings that added a good ten years to Cork’s appearance. The beard was eventually removed after the Blades were knocked out at the semi-final stage by city rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Howard Eastman
Howard Eastman’s noble dyed blonde beard was later replicated by French footballer Djibril Cisse but the credit must go to the British middleweight boxer. Eastman’s look was an extension of his somewhat eccentric personality but it couldn’t help him overcome William Joppy and Bernard Hopkins in his two world title challenges.

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