Circle of Life: How Has The World Of Sport Changed Since The Original Lion King?

Circle of Life: How Has The World Of Sport Changed Since The Original Lion King?
11:56, 17 Jul 2019

The Lion King is back, revamped and potentially improved 25 years after its initial release. John Oliver has replaced Rowan Atkinson as Zazu, Donald Glover takes on the role of Simba from Matthew Broderick, and Beyonce is now the voice of Nala. It’s a modern take on an old classic but what did the sporting world look like when the original Lion King was released in 1994?

Football

The footballing world was getting to grips with the Premier League after its launch in 1992 but all eyes had been on the USA as they hosted the 1994 World Cup. England had failed to qualify but that was quickly forgotten as Diana Ross shanked her penalty wide during the opening ceremony and Roberto Baggio did the same in the final to crown Brazil world champions. Nowadays, it is France who rule international football but it's fair to say the Three Lions have improved slightly. 

Manchester United were the reigning Premier League champions but would lose their crown the following year to a resurgent Blackburn Rovers. Current dominant force in English football Manchester City were battling relegation and Wimbledon were a force to be reckoned with. How times change... 

American Football

25 years ago, Atlanta hosted the Super Bowl as the Dallas Cowboys came out on top with a win over the Buffalo Bills who made it four Super Bowl defeats on the bounce. It was as heartbreaking as Mufasa’s death and they haven’t returned to the biggest game in American sport since but there are some similarities here as the Super Bowl was once again held in Atlanta in 2019.

Golf

Tiger Woods has been winning for a quarter of a century. In 1994, he won the United States Amateur Championship at the tender age of 18 on his way to becoming one of the greatest golfers of all time. His troubles off the course were well-documented but he made a roaring comeback this season with a remarkable Masters win. 

Tennis 

Pete Sampras was on top of the world in 1994 and having won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon he finished the year as number one despite the high quality of competition. Sounds familiar? This year, Novak Djokovic has picked up silverware in Australia and London and looks likely to finish the year as the best tennis player on the planet. And they say history doesn’t repeat itself…

Boxing

The heavyweight division was intriguing back in 1994 and featured one of the greatest comebacks of all time as George Foreman became the oldest heavyweight champion in history. At the ripe old age of 45 years and 299 days old, he knocked out Michael Moorer in the tenth round to win the WBA and IBF titles. 

Although we may never see an achievement like this again in boxing, there are some similarities to today’s division. Foreman, once he had beaten Moorer, targeted Mike Tyson following his release from prison in a superfight that was one of the most anticipated in that decade.

However, as with the big three heavyweights today, the plans hit complications and never materialised to a bout in the ring. Boxing needs these big fights to survive but Foreman’s achievements in 1994 were extraordinary to say the least.

F1

1994 was a sad year for Formula One. The sporting world lost one of the greats as Ayrton Senna passed away during the Grand Prix at Imola, with his friend Roland Ratzenberger suffering a fatal crash in qualifying the day before. It was an awful weekend for the sport and those incidents changed the safety regulations for drivers, rules which are still in place today.

Another great emerged that year as Michael Schumacher won the first of his seven Driver’s Championships but it was overshadowed by the death of his great competitor.

British driver Lewis Hamilton is on track to win his sixth title this year as he asserts his dominance over the sport.

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