From Rags to Riches – Biggest Sporting Underdogs

rags to riches

Sometimes it’s genuinely hard to remember that some of the sporting men and women on our TV screens were at one point no different from any of us, so to celebrate those brave legends who rose above spending their weekends in a food coma with a half-empty can of Fosters spilled on the sofa, Teams on Tour have found the best rags to riches stories in the history of sport.

Conor Mcgregor
Est Net Worth – £17,721,000

Long before the “McGregor strut” went viral and the trash talking Irishman was a household name, a 17-year-old Conor McGregor was but a humble plumbing apprentice in Dublin. It wasn’t until he met future UFC fighter Tom Egan that he began a career in MMA. Fast forward 11 years and the World Champion is one of the most successful and highest earners in all of Combat Sports.

Jamie Vardy
Est Net Worth – £6,000,000

To put Jamie Vardy’s dramatic rise to the Premier League title in perspective, at the age of 16 he was rejected by Sheffield Wednesday, prompting him to look beyond a career in football and study sports science in college instead. Still having an interest in the old pig’s bladder, he joined Stockbridge Park in English football’s 8th division for £30 a week before arriving at Leicester City via Halifax and Fleetwood Town. Today? The England (yes ENGLAND) striker earns £80,000 a week. Nice one.

Lebron James
Est Net Worth – £222,150,417

Who knew that shootin’ hoops could rake in so much cash? LeBron James, one of the NBA’s most famous superstars wasn’t always so fortunate however. Born to a 16-year-old mother in the lowly town of Akron, Ohio, James endured through a tough childhood discovering b-ball at the early age of nine. LeBron didn’t look back, attracting national attention as “the next big thing” at high school level and was selected as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Marcus Rashford
Est Net Worth – £500,000

Yeah, yeah, it might not seem like much. But let’s face it, when we were 19, we were lucky to have a net worth that exceeded three figures, let alone six. Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford is truly living the dream on a £25,000 a week salary but it wasn’t always the case. Coming from his humble beginnings in Wythenshawe, the born-and-bred Mancunian has a huge future ahead of him and out of every story you’ll read on this list, this is possibly the one most worth keeping your eye on.

Diego Maradona
Est Net Worth – £100,000

So, it’s not the billion you were expecting – but Diego Maradona’s incredible story has seen the former Argentinian no. 10 go from rags, to riches, to lesser riches in recent years thanks to the fact that he owed around £50,000,000 in back taxes to the Italian tax authorities. Ouch. Nevertheless, the polarising player had a phenomenal rise to fame and fortune from a poor family of 6 children that were lucky to be able to afford a meal a day. Which certainly puts your pre-payday beans on toast dinners in perspective, doesn’t it?

AJ Styles
Est Net Worth – £5,000,000

How do you respond to growing up in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic parent? According to the career of AJ Styles you become the best darn wrassler in the world and you get filthy rich while doing so – and more power to him for achieving it. The man otherwise known as “Allen Jones” spent much of his career in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling before making the jump for fame and fortune with the WWE in early 2016. Truly phenomenal.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Est Net Worth – £230,000,000

It seems ridiculous to think even for a moment that Cristiano Ronaldo should be considered an underdog in any sense of the word, but his rise to the pinnacle of professional football cannot and should not be underestimated. Growing up in poverty (his mother was a cook, and his father a gardener) Ronaldo only found his way into the beautiful game because his Dad was the kit man. After a promising start to his youth career, Sporting Lisbon had a sniff and snapped up CR7 before Sir Alex Ferguson spotted a young Cristiano playing and the rest is (record breaking) history.