Ahead of the Grand National 2024: Most shocking moments in sports

Last Updated 10 Apr 2024 | By GrandNational.org.uk | Commercial content | 18+ | Play Responsibly | T&C Apply | Wagering

Red Rum winning the Grand National – Image via @AtTheRaces on X

The Grand National has given us plenty of shocking moments over the years. From ‘the race that never was’ in 1993 and the protests of last year, to Red Rum’s hat-trick and Rachael Blackmore’s famous win, there’s always a big story to catch the imagination and grab the headlines.

But when it comes to dramatic moments across the entire sporting landscape, Brits have crowned Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear as the most shocking sporting moment of all time.

Ahead of the 2024 Grand National, researchers at GrandNational.org.uk uncovered the most surprising events that somehow did happen, finding 25% of Brits put Tyson’s 1997 bite in their top three most mind boggling moments. 

Iron Mike claimed top spot for shock factor, ahead of fellow sporting bad boy Eric Cantona, who featured in 18% of top threes for kung fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan while playing for Manchester United in 1995.

Reflecting on a happier occasion, Leicester City’s miraculous 2015/16 Premier League title win was also selected by 18% of respondents.

The most shocking moments in sporting history

RankEventBrits putting event in top three most shocking moments
1Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear25%
2Eric Cantona kung fu kicking a fan18%
3Leicester City winning the Premier League18%
4Brazil 1-7 Germany at the 2014 World Cup17%
5Maradona’s Hand of God13%

When asked whether they welcome or fear a big surprise, one in five Brits (19%) say they love a shock and can’t wait for the next big moment. Just 10% dread a surprise and preferred things go as expected.

What does the research say about the Grand National?

With the Grand National coming up on Saturday 13th April, the research also found that the chances of a big shock during the race is one of the main reasons people tune into the iconic event. Almost one in five (18%) say they enjoy the Grand National because anything can happen, while the chance to win money (23%) and enjoying the traditional Britishness of the race (29%) are other main reasons for watching.

A spokesperson for GrandNational.org.uk said: “The Grand National is a special race, and you get the feeling each year that almost anything can happen. That level of possibility for a big shock is exciting to fans, so we wanted to look at what other moments have stunned the world.

“Mike Tyson’s bite was headline grabbing at the time, and over two decades later, Brits are still blown away by his actions. Outside the world of sport, Donald Trump’s presidency was considered the most shocking – I wonder whether a potential second term would be as much of a surprise this time around!”


Our writers constantly update this site to ensure that you’re always fully informed of the latest Grand National news and runners.

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