Why We Love Underdogs

Why We Love Underdogs

Why you should care

Because you could be next.

Happy holidays! While OZY’s on vacation, we’ve put together some of our favorite reads of the year.

As saccharine as it might be, it’s true: everyone loves an underdog. Especially this time of year. There’s something about starting fresh that stirs the feeling that finally we’ll be able to do what we haven’t been able to do before. Today we will rise above. This time we will fight the good fight. Because as columnist Anthony Hamilton reminds us in his harrowing recount of recovery from a stroke, you can’t win if you don’t fight. So you best be swingin’.

For Bethe Correia, the “punch or be punch” adage is truer than for most. OZY Latin America correspondent Shannon Sims hung out in the gym with this little-known Brazilian MMA fighter before she got in the cage with the sport’s golden girl, Ronda Rousey. Correia trains in an unairconditioned gym with rusted equipment in a crumbling neighborhood in the far northeast of Brazil. Her coach is her husband. Her manager is her sister. And as for her sponsors, they don’t exist. No one thought she had a chance; in the end, Rousey knocked her out in 34 seconds. But, Correia says, “To open the doors for the little girls dreaming of this someone has to suffer.”

Suffering is perhaps what underdogs do best and, if they are to succeed, how they eventually become stronger than the competition. Luaty Beirão is a young wiry rapper with the stage name Ikonoklasta who has taken on the repressive dictator of his home country, Angola. Beirão’s lyrical defiance bred four years of nonviolent protests against the regime, but it’s come at a great personal cost, including torture and imprisonment.

And that is what it all comes down to: What are you willing to do to win? Because, like you, OZY always roots for an underdog, we bring you these stories of struggle (some resulting in triumph, others not quite) to help inspire those 2016 challenges on the horizon. Sean Braswell recalls the lengths one Chinese immigrant and inventor went to in his bid to overthrow IBM in the 1970s. Melanie Ruiz takes us out to the Arizona desert, where one woman has sacrificed marriage and family to become a falconer, a dying breed these days. And visiting author Vimal Kumar shows us how even caste isn’t enough to keep a man down.

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