Why you should care
From Mao to the Polar Bear, these giants picked the wrong little guy to tussle with.
Look, we’ll be honest: Usually, the little guy doesn’t win. But we human beings really love stories where they do. It’s not just the surprise factor, it’s the feeling that we could one day ourselves win an outlandish victory (if we were as brave as the people and animals about whom you’ll soon be reading).
Our series on David and Goliath leaps from politics to sports to science, but they all have a unifying theme: The little guy won.
As the national director of the Working Families Party (WFP), Maurice “Moe” Mitchell is attempting to do the impossible: break up America’s two-party system. Whether that succeeds or not, he’s already made a huge difference: More than 1,000 WFP-endorsed candidates won state and local offices in 2017.
Thirty-five-year-old Neha Satak and her startup Astrome are laser-focused on developing satellite-based internet technology. Unfortunately, a few other companies are too — companies like Amazon and SpaceX. But with her patented technology and an enormous amount of determination, Satak still thinks she’ll be the one bringing internet to the huge swaths of the world without it.
In 1995, 210-pound Marco Ruas — nicknamed “King of the Streets” — fought 330-pound Paul Varelans, aka the Polar Bear, in the MMA ring. All the smart money was on Varelans, but sometimes the underdog has a mean leg kick.
In 1919, Man o’ War was an unbeatable thoroughbred — until he lost the only race of his career to a horse named Upset. So is that the origin of the term? Not so far.
In the late 1950s, China’s iconic leader declared war … on sparrows. It was part of the Four Pests Campaign, meant to rid China of its most annoying creepy crawlies, and the population set to work killing and driving away sparrows in all manner of ways. This did not work out in the long run.
More David and Goliath stories from OZY:
This Momtrepreneur Took on Big Retail Copycats — Shannon McLaughlin invented the Ubuntu Baba baby carrier. Then she had to defend it when a giant department store tried to copy her work and steal her business.
When a Hockey Puck Was the Best Weapon for Defeating the Soviet Union — In 1969, Czechoslovakia was ecstatic over its big geopolitical win … on the ice. That’s right: Its team unexpectedly beat the Soviets at the World Ice Hockey Championships.
This Hulking Lawyer Leads the Courtroom Charge Against Apple — Former shot-putter Mark Rifkin gets out his competitive urges via the law these days; specifically by challenging America’s monopolies. His latest win? A Supreme Court argument siding with iPhone users over Apple in a case about artificially inflated prices.