Top 10 Greatest Rivalries in Sports History (UPDATED)Posted By: Bill Russell | August 12, 2017
Sports history is full of rivalries spanning generations of players and teams; pitting neighbors against neighbors, fist against face alike. It is precisely due to these rivalries that legends are made, and players write their names in book of sports lore. When it is about the Greatest Rivalries in Sports, one can’t skip the mighty encounters like Real Madrid vs Barcelona, and Pakistan vs India.
To celebrate a century’s worth of sports, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 sports rivalries of all time, and to make our list a bit richer we’re selecting only one per sport.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Greatest Rivalries in Sports History
- Barcelona Vs Real Madrid – Soccer Rivalry
- Pakistan Vs India- Cricket Rivalry
- Coe Vs Ovett- Running Rivalry
- New Zealand Vs Australia- Rugby Rivalry
- Canadiens Vs Bruins- Hockey Rivalry
- Andretti Vs Foyt- Indy Car Rivalry
- Ali Vs Frazier- Boxing Rivalry
- Martina Navratilova Vs Chris Evert- Tennis Rivalry
- Duke Vs North Carolina- College Basketball Rivalry
Top 10 Greatest Rivalries in Sports History
Barcelona Vs Real Madrid – Soccer Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, If ever there was a rivalry analogous to “competing cultures”, this would be it. The rivalry between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is all the more furious because it is fueled in chief by the fact that Spain (Real Madrid) governs the independent region of Catalunya (Barcelona). Thus Barcelona always seeks to score one over the Madrid and in doing so they aim to get their own place in history and recognition. The fact that both teams are overly enthusiastic and comprise of world class talent makes their matches all the more fun to watch.
Pakistan Vs India- Cricket Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, Pakistan Vs India is always a thoroughfare for their respective people, the mutual enmity between the two countries is so great in fact, that it is said even a qualifying match becomes a final for the people. Having fought three major wars, and pitted against each other eight times during Cricket World Cups, a Pakistan-India match has viewership in excess of 1 billion. But overall, as much as Pakistanis would regret to admit, India has been the dominating side during World Cups so far.
Coe Vs Ovett- Running Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, Olympic rivalries don’t come any greater than that between Sebastian Coe (front) and Steve Ovett (center) during running competitions. While they took home a combined of over seven Olympic gold medals during the 1980 and 1984 games, they were bitter rivals. They had been trading World Record Titles ever since 1979-1985; a whopping five times. Steve Ovett’s record time in the two mile record is still yet to be beaten.
New Zealand Vs Australia- Rugby Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, Following a formula similar to Barcelona and Madrid, Australia and New Zealand’s rivalry in a rugby stadium is second to none. The very first rugby world cup (held in 1987) was between New Zealand and Australia. The fact that the two countries have a similar culture adds to the contempt on field, and both teams are ranked high in world rankings (No.1 and No.2); having won 99 and 93 matches apiece, the two teams are quite evenly matched.
Canadiens Vs Bruins- Hockey Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, The Bruins and Canadiens have a history of facing each other more times than any other teams in the NHL. The rivalry between the two has been known for going to such extremes that even the Boston Police were forced to interfere and break up the chaos that issued during a match in 1955; they very nearly arrested all the Canadien players too, but the Bruins management intervened and chose not to press charges. The media is sure to have a field day whenever there is a match between these two, only recently a goalie fight led to over 187 minutes worth in penalties, and the captain of Bruins slammed an offending player into the player’s bench, leading to a near riot on the rink.
Andretti Vs Foyt- Indy Car Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, While this rivalry spanned the better part of two decades and led to numerous sensational stories in the media, Mario Andretti (pictured) and A.J. Foyt had nothing but respect for each other. Both of them were noted for exhibiting fair play, and together they competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona, Indy 500, and the Daytona 500 all through the 60s and 70s, and both won on numerous occasions. They both even retired at almost the same time too (1993, 94).
Ali Vs Frazier- Boxing Rivalry
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, Few people emanate a global impact more pronounced than that which Mohammad Ali enjoyed during his career (perhaps eclipsed only by the likes of Michael Jackson), having been crowned the World Heavyweight Champion twice before he was pitted against Joe Frazier. The rivalry that ensued between Ali and Frazier is written down in sports folklore, Ali’s egotistic temperament would never acknowledge Frazier as a talented athlete and he would always insult him during fights, on the other hand, Frazier could never be convinced to retreat. They faced each other three times; 1971, 1974, and 1975, Ali was crowned champion again as Frazier had been badly hurt and his team refused to let him compete in the last round. After Frazier’s death, Ali came out and made a statement that he had always respected Frazier and would always admire him.
Next on Greatest Rivalries in Sports, Tennis rivalries are almost always a polite affair, such can be said for Chris Evert (right) and Martina Navratilova (left). The competing duo dominated the women’s tennis scene all through the 70s and 80s, pitting against each other eighty times, of which sixty were tournament titles. Martina Navratilova clearly had the edge as she won 10 out of the 14 Grand Slam Finals against Evert with a score of 43-37 in head-to-head meetings.
Duke Vs North Carolina- College Basketball Rivalry
As far as college basketball goes, nothing gets on more hype than a match between North Carolina and Duke. The two campuses are only eight miles apart, and both teams are favorites in the ACC games. Rarely disappointing their fans, one of the two teams are almost always crowned champions in their matches against other teams.
Top 10 Greatest Rivalries in Sports History
#1- Soccer- Barcelona Vs Real Madrid Rivalry
#2- Pakistan Vs India- Cricket Rivalry
#3- Nicklaus Vs Palmer- Golf Rivalry
#4- Coe Vs Ovett- Running Rivalry
#5- New Zealand Vs Australia- Rugby Rivalry
#6- Canadiens Vs Bruins- Hockey Rivalry
#7- Andretti Vs Foyt- Indy Car Rivalry
#8- Ali Vs Frazier- Boxing Rivalry
#9- Martina Navratilova Vs Chris Evert- Tennis Rivalry
#10- Duke Vs North Carolina- College Basketball Rivalry
So which rivalry from the list of Greatest Rivalries in Sports you wait for?