Ten Bad Boys from the World of Sport
You have probably heard about some of them, while others are completely new names to you. But all of them have one thing in common – the public love them, admire and lambaste them at the same time because they are the oddballs from the arena, the bad boys of sports. Obviously, such a list as this cannot put all the names into a specific category, but will present to you, in a random manner, the best known sportsmen from around the world who have become famous because of their performance from outside the sports field.
10) Vinnie Jones
Vinnie Jones is a former football player who has played for Chelsea, Leeds United, Wimbledon etc. He is definitely one of the hard men of the English football. Apart from his intimidating look, which the converted actor has used for creating very charismatic negative heroes, Vinnie Jones’ figure has remained in the annals of the English football because of his aggressive playing style and violence, which are rarely seen on a sports field. Fouls are a common practice in the British football, but Jones has managed to gather a countless number of yellow cards in this record, he was often sent off the field for extremely violent attacks on opponents and he currently holds the record for the fastest ever sending off in English football history. The referee sent Jones off the field in a match between Chelsea and Sheffield United from 1992, after he committed an extremely violent attack on Dane Whitehouse. Jones committed the foul just three seconds after had been sent on the field.
Another incident took place during the Wimbledon vs. Tottenham match from 1986, when Jones fouled Gary Stevens so violently that the latter has never made a complete recovery and had to give up professional football. Aggressive, with a killer-like face, Jones made it into history when he mellowed Paul Gascoine, another bad boy in British football. How did he do it? He simply grabbed Gascoine by his testicles during the game. As if this had not been enough, Vinnie featured a highly controversial film from 1992, called “Soccer’s Hard Men”, where he practically glorifies foul. Following this event, he received a 20,000 pound fine and the Wimbledon football club manager stated that Vinnie Jones’ brain could not be bigger than that of a gnat.
Jones made his cinema debut in 1998, together with director Guy Ritchie in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”. He has played in over 50 films, such as Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand, Year One or Gone in 60 Seconds. No need to say that the heroes Vinnie Jones has played usually do not talk too much and, in most cases, are hard men.
9) Sebastien Chabal
Sebastien Chabal is one of the France’s National Rugby Team stars. Outside the rugby field he is a genuine role model because he is involved in peace promoting activities or other charity actions, but on the rugby field he is a true “beast”.
Nicknames such as “The Cavern Man”, “The Beast”, “Attila” or “The Viking” tell a lot about the manner in which Chabal deals with his opponents. Sebastian Chabal is one of the few rugby players popular among the public but he has an extreme game style – some of his opponents have been taken off the field on a stretcher. He has managed to perform the “tackling of the century” in a game against New Zeeland; he also took out of game two of the most robust All Blacks players: Ali Williams (2,02 meter tall and weighing 112 kilograms) and Chris Masoe (1, 83 meter tall, weighing 106 kilograms).
His violent game style and tackling have brought him fame although he is obviously lacking tactical skills. Besides, Chabal himself is a very tall man (1, 90 m and 115 kilos) and one of the few audacious players who have chosen to have long hair and play rugby. No wonder that his Neanderthal look made French sportscasters say that he was the only person capable of scaring a New Zeeland player while performing the famous Haka.
Chabal shocked the public during the a Rugby World Championship when he featured an ad where he used a baby as a rugby ball. Despite this fact, the Frenchman is privileged by ad campaigns; he has actually earned over two million Euros from commercials alone.
8) Diego Armando Maradona
Maradona is a god in his home country, Argentina but he is also a character whose bad reputation is no longer a secret. No opponent could match the Atomic Barrel (his nickname) on the football field, but outside it, Maradona could hardly be called a sportsman. The Argentinean started to take heroine on a regular basis when he transferred to Barcelona in 1982.
The bad habit went on even after the transferred to Napoli, the football club where he had his best performances. Rumors began circulating back then that he had become a Mafia member and knew personally several members of the Camorra Mafia group. Napoli fans worshipped him and Maradona was allowed to come and train whenever he wanted and wherever he wanted. Because of this behavior he was given a $70, 000 fine. Maradona left the Italian club in shame after it was proven he was a drug addict and following countless scandals, including one where he had to admit he had a love child.
Maradona continued to feature the headlines even after he retired from professional football. He is being harassed by journalists from around the world daily and shocked the planet when he opened fire at the journalists. In the latest incident, Maradona ran over a journalist while he was trying to interview the star. The Argentinean has never hidden his political views, nor his anti-American attitude and his friendship with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez has rapidly become world-known. Moreover, the former football star has recently taken part in a rehab program in Cuba which has cured him from his cocaine addiction. He has also undergone medical treatment for alcohol addiction in a psychiatry clinic from Buenos Aires.
Italian government officials stated in March 2009 that Maradona owes 37 million Euros to the Italian state for unpaid taxes. He has only paid back 42,000 Euros, together with two brand watches and a pair of golden earrings.
7) Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is one of the hardest and most controversial professional boxers in recent years. He was nicknamed “the most evil man on planet” and he surprised everybody with his performances when he entered professional boxing: 19 matches, 19 KO victories and 12 of them occurred in the first round. His victory record had reached an unbelievable 42-0 when Buster Douglas proved that Tyson could actually be beaten. Many people still think that Douglas’ victory, one of the least probable in boxing history, was actually allowed by Tyson’s manager, the famous Don King. Iron Mike is the first boxer in heavy weight category to have held the WBA, WBC and IBF titles at the same time.
His problems from outside the boxing ring appeared after he divorced his first wife, Robin Givens. Tyson then fired his coach and from that moment on began his downfall from the sportsmen elite. His passion for women and alcohol would cost him dearly and he was sentenced to six years in prison in 1991 after being accused of having raped Desiree Washington, an 18 year old girl. After he had spent three years in prison, Tyson came back to the boxing ring with an immense determination to prove his supremacy and become the boxer he once was. He fought a few easy boxing matches which he won very quickly, in just a few seconds but the match against Evander Hollyfield, a former heavy weight champion proved that Tyson was nothing but a shadow of his former self. His 34 year old opponent knocked him out in the eleventh round. Iron Mike shocked the world during this match after he ripped off the upper part of Hollyfield’s ear.
Another series of controversial matches followed, where Tyson boxed against weaker opponents whom he beat in a very obscure manner, which led to many cheating allegations. The only way Mike made himself known in that period was by flattening a referee in Glasgow, in June 2000 and by testing positive for marijuana. His defeat by the British champion Lenox Lewis spelled the end for his amazing career in the boxing world. Unfortunately his career has also been marked by various sad events from outside the boxing ring, countless scandals and the time he has served in prison.
6) Dennis Rodman
He is one of the best players in NBA history and definitely the most eccentric one. Dennis Rodman is still a mystery for those who have followed his career. He has evolved from the shy teenager who attempted suicide to the alien-like character, multimillionaire man, who could have any woman in the world, just like he once put it, and who was constantly swaying between his amazing on-the-field performance and his tumultuous private life.
Rodman is above all an oddball who, apart from his obvious talent for basketball, has made himself known for his violent outbreaks during matches, where the targeted everybody: opponents, his own team members and referees. “The Worm” is a man who likes to shock people with the shrill colors in which he dyes his hair, his tattoos and pierces. Everybody remembers the moment when Rodman came out wearing a wedding dress to promote his biography and his very short marriage to the beautiful Carmen Electra. He later claimed that the marriage was nothing but a personal ambition and a bet he had to win against a friend of his.
Rodman has been arrested several times for driving while being drunk, domestic and public violence, drug consumption and over 70 complaints filed by his neighbors for his loud and wild parties. He has also used his fame to feature in several films and many other TV shows. The TV shows rating simply skyrocketed when he appeared. Dennis Rodman currently has his own TV show and also features in wrestling shows together with his friend Hulk Hogan.
5) Eric Cantona
He is the best-known number seven from Manchester United and one of the most loved foreign players the club has ever had. It was not by chance that the white-red Manchester fans made him a special T-shirt on which they had written “God”. The French Eric Cantona has written history for Manchester as well as for France’s national football team but he also had a hard man reputation both in and outside the football field.
His discipline problems started three years after he had made his debut in the football world. In 1987, while playing for the Auxerre football club, he knocked out one of his team mates, Bruno Martini, after a minor argument the two of them had. The following year, Cantona was temporarily sent off the field after he had injured Michel Der Zakarian. Then, the Torpedo Moscow moment came in 1989 when during an exhibition game he sent the ball at the Russian spectators, ripped off this T-shirt and threw it at his coach after the coach had replaced him with another player. Following this event, he was given a one month suspension. Just a few days before, Eric Cantona had been fired from the national football team after he had insulted the national team coach during a TV show.
He played for Olympique Marseille, Bordeaux and Montpellier for short periods. While at Montpellier he beat one of this team mates which made all the others demand that he be fired. After this event, Cantona, transferred to Nimes, where he met the disciplinary commission…again. This time, Cantona had attacked a referee because he did not agree with the official’s decision. When he went in front of the commission he walked around and called every commission member an idiot. At that stage he decided to give up professional football but changed his mind after Michel Platini, a good friend of his asked him to reconsider his decision.
Cantona has never hidden the fact that he went to a psychoanalyst to treat his aggression issues and said that the decision to come and play in England belongs entirely to his psychoanalyst. The player spent a season at Leeds United and then transferred to Manchester United, the club which represented the apex of his career.
While at Manchester he could not stay away from the tabloid’s first page. The worst incident happened in the 1994-1995 season when the referee gave Cantona the red card after he committed a revenge foul against Cristal Palace full-back Richard Shaw. Cantona then kicked and punched a fan of the other team and the police were barely able to stop him after he reached the supporters’ stand.
Eric Cantona is currently an actor and has featured in several blockbusters; he even directed his own film. Apart from his acting career, Cantona is also the captain/coach of the French beach football national team with whom he succeeded to win the Rio de Janeiro World Beach Football Championship from 2005.
4) John Hopoate
Many of you have probably never heard of the Aussie John Hopoate and his deeds in rugby and boxing. Hopoate is a temperamental, eccentric and violent person and he is regarded as one of the hardest men from the Southern Hemisphere sports world.
The most notorious incident Hopoate was involved in took place during the game between Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (his team) against North Queensland Cowboys. Hopoate dug his finger in the anuses of three players from the rival team; the first incident happened seven minutes after the game had begun. In front of the discipline commission, he stated that he had only wanted to do a “wedgie” (the act of pulling the back of someone’s underpants quickly upward as a joke or prank). Photos taken during the game clearly say otherwise.
Hopoate shocked the rugby world when during the game against Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks he rushed at one opponent, Keith Galloway and continued to hit him even after he was lying unconscious on the field. The club decided to fire Hopoate and this is how his rugby career ended. It is worth mentioning the violent attack on a 14 year old ball boy who could not retrieve the ball fast enough. Following this event, Hopoate was only temporarily suspended.
John Hopoate has then tried his luck in the boxing world only to be compared with a clown who would rather tackle his opponent than knock him out with a well aimed punch. The Australian, father of eight, still features boxing matches against newcomers; most of them also come from the harsh rugby world.
3) John McEnroe
The charismatic John Patrick Monroe is a well-known former number one tennis player. He has won 7 Grand Slam single titles, 9 other Grand Slam double titles and a double-mix tournament. At the same time, he is reported to be the only man who “can get extremely mad and still be able to play good tennis” thus earning his hard man nickname in this sport.
McEnroe has often been sent in front of many discipline commissions which he called “mobs of 70-80 year old geezers who are trying to convince you that you are behaving like a moron.” McEnroe is the creator of the famous “You can’t be serious!” sentence which he used every time he would contradict a referee. This sentence has even been used as a book title about the great American tennis player. His violent outbreaks and insults determined Lady Diana to step out of the tennis stand during a Wimbledon game. This was the last time Lady Diana ever wanted to watch a public game of the American player.
The British media which gave McEnroe the nickname “The Frog” and perceived him as the British counterpart of the Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg, also known as “The Iceman”. Despite his temperamental nature, John McEnroe cannot be erased from the world’s greatest tennis players list; the public has forgiven him all his mistakes because of his talent.
2) Mark Vermeulen
Did you think that the cricket world was any better? Well, think again! Although cricket players do not usually stand out via an aggressive behavior, the Zimbabwean Mark Vermeulen is the exception that confirms the general rule. For example, in 2003 the cricket player refused to travel to England and spend time with the Zimbabwean national Cricket team but that was only a caprice. What happened three years later was beyond any imagination. He was transferred to Werneth Cricket Club from England; Vermeulen lost control and threw the cricket bat at the public after they had criticized him because of his disappointing performance from the previous game against Ashton. As if that was not enough, Vermeulen grabbed a board from the bench and jumped into the stand determined to punish all those who had criticized him.
The Zimbabwean player got a ten year suspension which was later cut down to just three years. He then came back to his home country and was arrested on November 2006 after he had set the Zimbabwean cricket Federation Headquarters on fire. As unbelievable it may seem, Vermeulen came back to the cricket field in 2009 but only after he had promised to donate his earnings to rebuild the burnt headquarters.
1) Alex Higgins
He was also called Alex “The Hurricane” Higgins, a nickname which emphasized the game speed of this professional snooker player born in Northern Ireland. It is said that Higgins was one of the most talented snooker players, a man who could calculate any possible trajectory of a ball and could finish a game that a regular player would finish in several hours or days. In 1972 he became the youngest world champion, at just 22 and it seemed that nothing could stop him from being a top player. Unfortunately, Higgins was just another example of a good player who wasted his talent.
Higgins had no shame in smoking fag after fag and drinking alcohol during the official snooker tournaments. After all, the game rules from that period did not mention anything about such restrictions. His temperamental behavior brought him many sanctions. During a snooker game, Higgins head butted the referee and during another press conference he kicked another referee in the stomach and he then left the conference room without saying a word.
Higgins preferred to spend the 4 million pounds he had earned from sports on alcohol and huge amount of cigarettes. Maybe you will think this is pretty strange, but when he first became world champion, Hogging was living in abandoned houses in the outskirts of Blackburn. He even had to move five times a week because the houses in which he lived were due to be demolished. In 2009, Alex Higgins was living in a mobile house. He had just divorced his second wife after he had cruelly beaten her with a hairdryer. Moreover, he had been diagnosed with cancer, lost all his teeth during chemo and was feeding on liquid food only. On June 24, 2010 Higgins was found dead in his bed. The causes of death were malnutrition, pneumonia and esophagus cancer. He weighed only 38 kilos.