Underdog Nation


One can debate whether Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback that ever played football (and today’s Super Bowl XLVI will weigh in heavily), but there is little question who is the worst bull riding, sauna sweating sumo wrestler of all time. ‘Underdog’ author (subtitle – “How I Survived the World’s Most Outlandish Competitions”) Joshua Davis has become the underdog competitor in a world of underdog sports. While one of the biggest sporting shows on earth takes place today with the Super Bowl, Davis seeks out the most esoteric and bizarre which he chronicles in his site Underdog Nation such as barstool racing, bog snorkelling, cheese chasing, skijoring, underwater hockey, cup stacking.

His interview with Failure Magazine (“Joshua Davis is Un-Defeated”) last week explains…

  • “There is a trajectory or process of becoming accustomed to losing. Usually I rebound a day or so later. In sumo it was only a matter of a half an hour before people started coming up to me asking for my autograph. I would say, “Listen, I just lost every single match. Why do you want my autograph?” They would say, “You shouldn’t have been in the ring to begin with and just the fact that you got in there was an inspiration.” It dawned on me that sumo wrestling empowered me. Just getting in there and being open to the idea of failing really empowered me and changed my life.”
  • “People want to be the best at something and want to be unique. The worst feeling is to be an anonymous gear in a big system—someone who is just like everyone else. How do you separate yourself? Competition is the best way because when you compete you get ranked. And it doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re number one, because if you’re number three you’re still unique. And if you come in last you are very unique. The champion and the failure are the two most unique people in a contest. You can be either one and achieve the goal of differentiating yourself.”