Having discussed unlikely sporting heroes in yesterday’s post, today I’m going to look at those we love to hate; the villains in sport. Sporting villains can fall into many different categories:
- Administrators who are trying to ruin our sports
- Individuals who take bribes to influences results
- Arrogant and big-headed athletes
- Blatant cheats who revel in their underhand tactics
- Thugs who perform despicable acts on or off the field
- Athletes who use performing-enhancing drugs
- Individuals who believe their celebrity allows them to express abhorrent views
I haven’t got the time (or space) to list all my sporting villains, so here are just a few of my personal ‘favourites’.
|The "baddest man on the planet"|
Tyson’s aura in the ring was diminished slightly after his shock loss to James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990. Outside of the ring his life was also falling apart, and in July 1991 he was arrested for the rape of 18-year-old Desiree Washington. Tyson was convicted of the charge in February 1992, and was given a sentence of 10 years, six in prison and four on probation. However after 3 years he was released after good behavior, and resumed his boxing career in 1995.
The resumption of his boxing career started well, with Tyson convincingly winning his first 4 fights, before surprisingly losing to Evander Holyfield in a blockbuster fight. A rematch with Holyfield was held on June 28, 1997, with Tyson again the favourite to win the contest. However the fight was stopped in the third round after Tyson bit Holyfield on the ear, and after the resumption Tyson bit Holyfield again, this time taking a chunk out of his ear. Tyson was disqualified and fined $3 million over the incident.
Tyson resumed his career the next year and had several more good victories before his career petered out with a couple of shock victories. Despite a slight turn-around in Tyson’s public persona, for me he still remains one of sport’s all-time great villains.
Spain’s Paralympic basketball team (2000)
|Spain's Paralympic cheaters|
The claims were investigated by the IPC, and it was found that the Spanish Paralympic Committee hadn’t carried out the necessary tests, and 10 of the 12 competitors in the team weren't disabled. The scandal rocked the Paralympics, and the IPC suspended all official sporting activities involving an intellectual disability. Although this was later relaxed, these events are still not included in the Paralympic games.
|Akermanis - a thoroughly dislikable man|
Although Akermanis was never really loved as a footballer, it was in the final years of his career and post-career when he found himself as a hate figure in AFL circles. His often controversial views included telling gay footballers who were thinking about coming out in public to forget it, and that it “would cause discomfort in that environment should someone declare himself gay.” Also, following the death of much-loved AFL great Jim Stynes this year, Akermanis claimed that he was "a nasty man in his day", and questioned whether he should receive a state funeral.
Do you have any ‘favourite’ sporting villains? And do you genuinely hate these villains, or are they just part of the theatre and drama of sport?