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Friday, June 6, 2003
Updated: June 7, 5:25 PM ET
Vote: Outta Nowhere!


The Netherlands' Martin Verkerk had never gotten past the first round in a Grand Slam tournament before and now he's in Sunday's French Open final. It's the biggest rise from obscurity in Paris since unseeded Gustavo Kuerten won it in 1997 and went on to win the championship two more times.

Michael Chang, who played his last match at Roland Garros last week, won the 1989 French Open to become the youngest ever Roland Garros and Grand Slam champion (17 years, 3 months) and first American winner at French Open since 1955 (Tony Trabert).

At Wimbledon in 1985, Boris Becker wins at age 17 to become the youngest player, first unseeded player and first German to win the men's singles title at Wimbledon.

Here are some other athletes and teams who came out of obscurity to become their sport's champion.

Buster Douglas
Douglas introduces his fist to another opponent.

James "Buster" Douglas
A 42-1 shot who knocked out undefeated Mike Tyson in 10th round on Feb. 10, 1990 to win the heavyweight title in Tokyo.

Don Larsen
Pitched the only perfect game in World Series history for the New York Yankees in a 2-0 victory over Brooklyn in Game 5 of the 1956 Series.

John Daly
As an unknown 25-year-old became the surprise winner of 1991 PGA Championship.

Francis Ouimet
Ouimet, 20, an amateur, won the 1913 U.S. Open on the course in Brookline, Mass., where he caddied.

Derrick Cope
In 1990 at the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt was leading 155 of 200 laps until running over a piece of metal and blowing a tire with half a lap to go. That gave Derrick Cope his first Winston Cup victory. It wasn't until 1998 that Earnhardt would win his one and only Daytona 500.

Kurt Warner
A former Arena League player who had been overlooked and undrafted out of college, Warner became the Rams starting quarterback and led his team to Super Bowl XXXIV. There his 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce with 1 minute and 54 seconds left won the championship.

Bob Valvano
Hughes' years of hard work paid off with a gold medal.

Sarah Hughes
Sitting in fourth place at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City after the short program, 18-year-old Hughes skated a clean program propelling her past favorites Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya to win the gold medal.

Francisco Cabrera
In the 1992 National League Championship Series, Cabrera was the last man to make the Braves' postseason roster. Pinch-hit single off Pirates pitcher Stan Belinda with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 to score David Justice and Sid Bream to win the game 3-2 and send the Braves to the World Series.

Timmy Smith
Record 204 yards rushing for the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII.