The next time you’re walking through the Palace Tower at Caesars Palace, you can look around and see elegant décor surrounding you, pools off in the distance, and upscale rooms directly above you.
It’s hard to believe a man with a powered paraglider could have descended on that very spot, but it’s true (before it was built, of course) – and it’s all part of the unique and storied sports history of Las Vegas.
From the “Fan Man” interrupting a 1993 heavyweight bout between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield at what was then an outdoor arena at Caesars – and paying a dear price when he landed in the ring and was pummeled by everyone in sight – to Formula One Racing on the Strip, and even a boxing match between Shaquille O’Neal and Oscar De La Hoya at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas has had more than its share of memorable sports moments.
Vegas is home to NASCAR races, the National Finals Rodeo and Pro Bull Riding World Finals, college bowl games, college basketball conference tournaments, the World Series of Poker, USA Sevens Rugby, and even the finals of American Ninja Warrior. Memorable sporting events are no stranger to the Entertainment Capital of the World, to be certain.
Here are a few of the biggest and most memorable:
PRO FOOTBALL IS COMING TO VEGAS
OK, sure, you could argue that professional football debuted in Las Vegas more than 20 years ago with the CFL, the Arena Football League and – dare we say it – even the XFL had a Vegas franchise.
But early in 2017, the biggest of all pro football leagues voted in favor of its first Las Vegas franchise, approving the relocation of the Oakland Raiders.
A new stadium and undoubtedly countless new memories are on the way.
PRO HOCKEY BREAKS THE ICE
The first of the four major sports to have a permanent franchise in Las Vegas is the NHL, as the expansion Vegas Golden Knights drop the puck in October 2017. The league expansion draft was held at the NHL Awards in June, the annual Vegas celebration of the league’s top individual award winners.
KAREEM SETS NBA ALL-TIME SCORING MARK
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the all-time NBA scoring record in a 1984 game in Las Vegas. Nearly 35 years later, the longtime Lakers center is still the leading scorer in NBA history with more than 38,000 points.
THE BITE HEARD ’ROUND THE WORLD
When Mike Tyson inexplicably bit the ear of Evander Holyfield in a 1997 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena, the “Bite Fight” instantly became another chapter in the storied boxing history of Las Vegas. Tyson was disqualified, for obvious reasons, and lost his license for more than a year.
EVEL KNIEVEL ATTEMPTS TO JUMP THE CAESARS PALACE FOUNTAINS
Fifty years later, it’s still a legendary moment in Vegas lore. Whether or not you consider daredevil riding a sport, Evel Knievel’s attempt to jump the iconic fountains in front of Caesars Palace in 1967 is still frequently talked about. That’s probably mostly because Knievel came up short and crashed badly, resulting in a crushed pelvis and femur, a concussion and fractures to just about anything that could be fractured.