Friday marks the 30th anniversary of Underdog Day. It has been celebrated annually since 1976 to honor unsung heroes such as Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson or Robinson Crusoe’s Man Friday. It also celebrates those who “came from behind” to make names for themselves.
The origin of the word “underdog” comes from the way ships were built. Planks of wood for the construction of a ship were placed over a pit on another set of planks called “dogs.” To saw the planks, a senior “sawsman” stood on top of the platform and a junior “sawsman” was assigned to go into the pit to saw from below, where he would be covered with sawdust. The man on top was called the “overdog” — the one on the bottom — the “underdog.”
Some famous underdogs include the Biblical David, who conquered Goliath; Robert the Bruce, whose victorious army was outnumbered three to one at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 (not to be confused with William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame); U.S. President Harry Truman; boxer James "Buster" Johnson, who defeated Mike Tyson in 1990; Rocky Balboa of the “Rocky” film franchise and the hapless cat in the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
Who is your favorite underdog?