Healthy rivalry amid competitors is what makes sports so great. There are rivals that compete on field with each other and their respective performances are bettered and then there the rivals who carry this aggression off the field too. Whatever it is, rivalry in sports fills up stadiums and arenas with fans that come to see the epic battles between rivals. Battles that make fans go crazy and battle that leave fans buzzing about it for days together. Over the years, there have been numerous competitive rivalries amid players in almost all sports – rivalries, not just for the pinnacle, but also for glory, for recognition and for supremacy. Here we have listed 5 of the world’s greatest rivals in sports history. Before you go bonkers, we’d like to inform that we have selected only one entry per sport.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird rivalry began when the two legends ended up playing for the Basketball league’s biggest rivaled franchises – the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. The rivalry wasn’t about the two teams battling for championships throughout the 1960s, but it was also for the two greatest players trying to prove their metal. The biggest benefit of this show of rivalry went to NBA television rating shot – the playoff between Magic and Bird became special sight, NBA television rating shot up and games between Lakers and Celtics started to sell out.
Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are two names that every little kid who knows anything about lawn tennis would know. Such was their dominance of the world of tennis that the two without a word became the greatest tennis rivals of all time. Agassi held the world’s top rank in tennis for 101 weeks, which was surpassed by Sampras who held the top spot for then-record 286 weeks. Sampras and Agassi had contrasting playing styles and the two played 34 times against each other from 1989 through 2002. Sampras bagged a total of 20 wins and Agassi managed 14 wins. The two faced each other in five Grand Slam tournaments, and here too, Sampras had the better of Agassi with four wins out of five. The two remain good friends off the field.
Earl Anthony and Mark Roth have been the two best bowlers of the 1970s, so rivalry was just evident amid the two. Having very contrasting styles i.e. laser accuracy of Earl Anthony and raw power of Mark Roth. Anthony was player of the year for straight three years in 1974, ’75 and ’76. Roth however won the title in 1977, ’78 and ’79. Both with a staggering number of wins have been inducted into the PBA Hall of Fame in the year 1981 and 1987 respectively. In their illustrious careers, Roth bagged 34 tour titles in his career, while Anthony collected 43 tour titles, including 10 Majors.
If you have followed boxing, there is a real chance you are familiar with the legendry boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The duo was known for their rivalry inside and outside the boxing ring. From powerful bouts to Ail’s racial taunts of Frazier, the rivalry has been very dramatic.Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought three time – Frazier won their first clash in 1971. This was really special victory for Frazier as it was Ali’s first career loss. Muhammad Ali had his revenge in 1974.The two met again a year later in Thrilla in Manila. This was the only fight that ended without a result. Frazier’s corned refused to fight in the 15th round. The two didn’t fight again, but the rivalry continued until Frazier left us in November 2011. On Frazier’s death, appreciating his rival Ali said, ‘the world has lost a great champion’.
Alain Marie Pascal Prost or Alain Prost a four-time Formula One Drivers’ Champion had a very intense rivalry with Ayrton Senna a three-time Formula One world championship. With 1980s and early 1990s the two formed a fierce rivalry. The rivalry intensified into numerous battles on the race track and into psychological war off the track. Senna joined Prost at McLaren in 1988, and the two were involved in controversial clashes. One of the fiercest including the collision at the Japanese Grand Prix in 1989.