10 of the wildest brawls in sports history
From all of the countless fights that have happened throughout time in sports, only a few can be so high on a list. Here are 10 of the biggest brawls in various sports.
At the end of the day, it really is just a game. However, when stakes are high with championship aspirations and egos on the line, that old saying literally goes out the window. Some fights break out due to poor officiating when the player feels that they have to take action themselves.
Many times though these brawls could have been prevented. There’s nothing wrong with a good tough fight at times during a sporting event, but when fans get involved anything can happen. Here are 10 of the biggest brawls that are still talked about today.
Andre Johnson vs. Cortland Finnegan
Nothing went right for the Tennessee Titans during this game. Cortland Finnegan was a very talented cornerback that gave a lot of receivers trouble, but not on this day.
Finnegan was successful in getting under the skin of Houston Texans star wide receiver Andre Johnson, but it resulted in a beat down that will live on forever. To add insult to injury, the Titans got blown out 20-0 that day.
Ron Delorme vs. Jamie Macoun
How the heck was not one of these guys knocked out? It was nothing like today’s fights in professional sports in which you see one or both guys dancing around for a bit. The pain was brought when both gentlemen stood in front of one another with their fists held up.
There have been many memorable hockey fights over the years, and they are essentially rooted in the sport. Macoun and Delorme would have won the fight of the night with Macoun possibly taking him of the performance of the night bonus.
Seeing their smashed up faces afterward when they were being interviewed in the locker room showed the damage that both men took.
Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph
Watching Mason Rudolph get whacked upside the head with his own helmet can be very entertaining, but this current ongoing case is not a good look for the NFL and everybody else involved. Just look at Antonio Brown right now after all those hits to the head.
Garrett claims that the motive for this vicious attack was due to Rudolph using a racial slur towards the star defensive end. Rudolph denies this claim and even filed a lawsuit.
It will be interesting to see how these two react to each other when they meet each other twice later in the 2020 season.
Braves vs. Padres
Come for the Jheri curls, stay for the brawls. This is the baseball version of malice at the palace. 13 ejections happened on this day and five arrests were made. Tensions began early in the second when Padres Ed Whitson threw a fastball at Pascual Perez behind his counterpart.
The fighting continued all game even after Whitson was ejected in the fourth. Fights flared in the dugout and a massive brawl would soon end on the mound. Nine players and four managers were ejected from the game. The senseless melee took a frightening turn though, when five fans threw beer at players and hopped over their seats to join in the action, that led to their arrests.
Kansas vs. Kansas State brawl
Brawls are rare in college basketball. There have been few over the years, but none get very far. On Jan. 22 of this year, Kansas player Silvio De Sousa forcefully made a huge block on K-State’s Dajuan Gordon, that knocked him down to the ground.
It wasn’t just the hard play that caused the ruckus though. Sousa stood over a fallen Gordon and talked his trash before this massive brawl spilled over to courtside. Punches were thrown, and at one point Sousa picked up a stool. Luckily he didn’t use it and tempers were settled. It was unlike anything seen in the Big 12 in recent memory.
Blue Jays vs. Rangers brawl
Jose Bautista already had several other guys calling him out for his bat flips after hitting homers during the season as most called it disrespectful.
Bautista’s controversial slide into Rougned Odor at second base caused a massive brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays. Like many baseball fights, fist did not fly very long. If anything it was more pushing with guys being held back.
It was the punch heard around the league. Bautista bit off a little more than he could chew. He mouthed off at Odor, but Odor wasted no time shoving him then followed up with a hard right that sends Bautista’s hat and glasses flying off before the two were separated.
Aqib Talib vs. Michael Crabtree brawl
This was a brawl waiting to happen. Early in the 2017 season, the bad blood started between Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree when the locker room trash talk ended up in the field and Talib got the best of Crabtree by yanking the gold chain off of his torso.
During the second meeting between the Raiders and Broncos, things did not end pretty as Talib was back to his old ways with Crabtree. Talib snatched the gold chain off again, but this time Crabtree drove Talib onto the floor and was able to land some punches in before the two were broken up.
Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks brawl
For the most part, this was your standard MLB game up until the sixth inning. Yasiel Puig was hit by Ian Kennedy’s pitch in the face that put him down for several minutes. The scary moment calmed for a bit when the Cuban was able to get up and head to first.
When it was the D-backs turn at bat, starting pitcher Zach Greinke held nothing back after he pummeled D-backs Miguel Montero that led to the first bench-clearing incident. No punches were thrown, but tempers flared between the two teams going forward.
Greinke would step up to the plate soon and was hit by Kennedy’s pitch on the shoulder and bounced off his shoulder. Usually, managers and coaches are the ones separating and calming down their players during fights, not on this day.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly started hitting coach Mark McGwire and D-backs third base coach Matt Williams also got in the middle of all this chaos. This could have been prevented after Greinke hit Montero.
Barcelona vs. Athletico Madrid brawl
To make sense of the brutality during this game, Barcelona’s Diego Maradona had a lot of tension built up inside personally and on the field. He was coming back from nursing a broken ankle. Maradona was difficult for opposing teams to deal with, and because of this he was and his legs were targeted almost consistently during games.
Andoni Goikoetxea was successful in breaking Maradona’s ankle in a previous meeting between the two teams. This intense moment came after the final whistle of the 1984 Copa Del Rey final. Diego was given the Spanish gesture for “screw off,” that’s the nice way of saying it.
With Maradona already in a foul mood, it led him to leave the opposing player that gave him that horrible gesture on his backside. All hell would break loose literally as Maradona went on a spree of kicking and throwing flying knees at players. The signature of this brawl came when Maradona kicked the goalkeeper knocking him down then hit a Jorge Masvidal inspired knee from UFC 239, that left the goalie out cold.
That wasn’t it though, Maradona continued to kick and punch his way through other players with a few of his teammates also landing flying kicks on Athletico Madrid. Barcelona lost the game, but without a doubt won the war.
Pistons vs. Pacers brawl
Labeled as “Malice At the palace”, this frustrating game for Pistons fans and everybody else watching from home drew horrors with the following actions. The Pistons were already getting blown out in a pointless, game after taking a hard foul in the fourth quarter, Ben Wallace would go on to shove Ron Artest and the rest is history.
Ron Artest charged back at Wallace, but when a fan threw a beer at Artest, he did not expect an enraged defensive player of the year to go come charging at him and punch him in the face. Artest’s teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal quickly jumped into the stands to separate the incident, but they ended up brawling within the stands.
Debris like beer, popcorn and trash were hurled at the players. It was one of the darkest days in NBA history indeed.
Most Famous Brawls in Sports History
In sports, it is inevitable that all that competitiveness will, sometimes, boil over, resulting in violent altercations. Usually, this behavior stays relatively tame — some pushing and shoving, at most. Occasionally, players get so fed up with their opponent that they launch into a full-on brawl.
24/7 Tempo reviewed historical sports reporting to compile a list of the most famous sports brawls of all-time. The fights, some of which are decades old, crossed the line from slight disagreements to serious fisticuffs.
Many of these fights are between old rivals. The teams on this list that were involved in a serious brawl, like the Yankees and Red Sox, have decades of bad blood. Each new meeting between the teams can add more fuel to the fire. Many of these fights also stem from a personal animosity that builds between players and eventually explodes into a heated confrontation involving both benches. These are the biggest personal feuds in sports history.
Pro athletes are tough and generally come out of these brawls with just some bumps and bruises. A few infamous fights, however, have left players seriously injured, sometimes ending their athletic careers. Other scraps began because a team took exception with their opponents’ style of play. These types of brawls seldom happen, but when they do they leave a stain on the organization and league as a whole. While the leagues try to clean up this behavior, some teams still cross the line all too often. These are the teams that play the dirtiest.
Click here to see the most famous brawls in sports history.
Read more: Special Report, All Sports
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The 10 Craziest Sports Fights of the 2000s
You may have heard, but a little something happened at the end of Thursday night’s matchup Browns-Steelers game. After an initial skirmish on the ground between Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, things escalated to a level we have never seen in the NFL before.
Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet. The rookie charged at him. Garrett smashed Rudolph over the head with the helmet. The incident will dominate talk shows for days and the highlights will live in infamy as one of the worst episodes in NFL history, if not recent sports history.
This wild melee got us thinking about some of the most memorable brawls in sports, including those that have occurred in recent years and those that have stood the test of time. Though there’s no way a list of 10 could possibly cover the wide array of epic showdowns, we’ve selected a handful of our favorites. Without further ado, Complex presents the 10 craziest sports fights.
The 10 most batsh*t sports brawls of all time
Let’s just get this out of the way: Violence is never the answer…but sometimes it is damn good entertainment. That’s why we pay $100 to watch human tanks tear each other apart in the octagon. That’s why we quietly root for “The Big One“ at Talladega. That’s why we remember every haymaker in the bench-clearing brawl, but not the final score that followed it. It’s not pretty and we’re not proud of it, but in a modern sports world where trophies are handed out for showing up, celebrating is unsportsmanlike conduct, and Instagram followers are as important as stat lines, the “brawl” is an ugly, but necessary, throwback—a reminder that the games we play today were battles yesterday. So tear off the gloves, charge the mound, and throw yourself on top of the pile. The 10 craziest sports brawls are calling, and they want to bring you down to their level.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
The Fight Card: Jeff Van Gundy vs. One Size 18 Nike
While most of the fights on this list are their own Shakespearean dramas—tangled nests of characters and plotlines from which it is impossible to distinguish antagonist from protagonist and loser from victor—this one leaves us with a clear-cut hero: Jeff Van Gundy, desperate and deranged, clinging to Alonzo Mourning’s left leg like a life boat as the 6’ 10” center traded fists with Larry Johnson in the '98 playoffs. Despite his unusual approach, however, Van Gundy did elicit his desired effect, with players from both teams too stupefied by the sight of a grown man mopping the MSG floor with his besuited body to remember what they were fighting over in the first place.
Where: Fenway Park, Boston, MA
The Fight Card: A 72-Year-Old Man vs. Gravity
If there are two teams who cherish their hatred of each other more than the Red Sox and Yankees, good luck finding them. And while there have been some truly unforgettable scrums over the years, none can match Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, when a 72-year-old manager bull-rushed the best pitcher of his era (some might say ANY era) in a benches-clearing brawl for the pre-Youtube ages. The optics of this one for Pedro—who tossed Don Zimmer aside like a sack of mashed potatoes—were not good to say the least, but come on. Zimmer was already going down. You know it. I know it. Even Don, may he rest in peace, knows it. As Pedro wrote in his 2015 autobiography, “all I did was help him fall faster,” and even the most die-hard Yank crank has to begrudgingly agree.
8. No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem
Where: Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, NY
The Fight Card: Bare Nipples vs. Ice
Hockey has produced plenty of memorable images over the years. Bobby Orr’s superman goal. The “Miracle on Ice” euphoria. A shirtless mad man from Buffalo pounding the crap out of Claude Lemieux at his place of work. Said mad man? Rob Ray, a 6-foot scrapper who averaged 158 penalty minutes a season, forced the NHL to require that players keep their clothes on while fighting, and was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarianism in 1999. Go figure.
Where: Hudson Theatre, New York, NY
The Fight Card: Mike Tyson vs. Himself
Five years after snacking on Holyfield, Big Mike was at it again, squaring up to heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis during the press conference for their $17.5-million-dollar title fight in New York. Tyson alleged the face-off was agreed upon by both camps and that Lennox’s bodyguard simply panicked, but that doesn’t change what happened next: A bare-knuckle free-for-all in which WBC president José Sulaimán was knocked out (later suing for $56 million), Lennox got bit (guess who!), and Tyson emerged spewing vile threats at the press pit (“I’ll f—k you ‘till you love me,” he pledged to journalist Mark Malinowski). Needless to say, the cuddly, Broadway star Tyson we all know and tolerate today was nowhere to be found in 2002.
Where: Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX
The Fight Card: Odor’s Right vs. Bautista’s Chin
Everything is bigger in Texas…even the right hooks. Just ask Rougned Odor, who ended a nine-month Jays/Rangers standoff—from THAT bat flip to a late slide into second—with an emphatic Adam West-approved “POW!”. For whatever reason, people don’t seem like Bautista too much, but we have to give credit where credit is due: This was a sky-cracking, earth-scorching thunderbolt from the fist of Zeus himself, and Bautista took it standing up. We are deducting points because he missed the opportunity to shout “ADRIANNNN!” in his post-game press conference, but nobody can say the man can’t take a punch.
Where: The Orange Bowl, Miami, FL
The Fight Card: Panthers vs. Hurricanes
They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer. They also say familiarity breeds contempt. We don’t know about you, but that seems like a bad combination to us, and Miami and FIU—located just 9 miles apart in the super-athlete petri dish that is South Florida—proved exactly that back in 2006. After a Miami extra point in the third quarter, FIU cornerback Marshall McDuffie Jr. tried replicating it with Miami holder Matt Perelli’s head, sparking off one of the most vicious brawls in football history, with players from both sides throwing haymakers, curb-stomping downed foes, and using their helmets as weapons. The next day 31 players were suspended, three months after that Larry Coker lost his job, and 11 years later The U’s football program is still struggling to recover.
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona, FL
When: February 18th, 1979
The Fight Card: Good Ol’ Boy vs. Good Ol’ Boy
Remember that scene in Days of Thunder where Cole Trickle and Rowdy Burns decide to race a pair of rental cars to a fancy lunch meeting, turning them into sheet-metal pinballs while blasting across a pristine Florida beach in some sort of high-octane phallic measuring contest? Well, in 1979 Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough did it for real, wrecking each other on the last lap of The Great American race because, as they later said, if they weren’t going to win, like hell they were going to let the other one do it. It wasn’t done there, however, with Donnie’s brother Bobby pulling up soon after for some carnage of his own, going a few rounds with Yarborough as NASCAR’s first flag-to-flag TV audience watched on gobstobbed. If you ever find yourself wondering how people find watching Preparation H-sponsored Camrys turn left 800 times exciting, this is your answer.
Where: Selhurst Park, London, UK
The Fight Card: Eric Cantona vs. The Red Mist
In January 1995, Eric Cantona was at the top of English soccer. Hailed as “King Eric” by Manchester United’s rabid legion of fans, the French forward led his team to two successive Premier League titles and was chasing a third when the wheels came shockingly and spectacularly off. First came the straight red card, a petulant kick at Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw. Then, as Cantona—clad in a Sith-like swath of black—began his long walk to the showers, he snapped, sending a full-speed kung-fu kick into the chest of Palace supporter Mathew Simmons, who had allegedly ran down 11 rows just to call Cantona’s mother a “French whore”. The fallout was as swift and severe as the act itself, with Cantona receiving an eight-month suspension and a two-week prison sentence (which was later appealed). Cantona would return to Manchester the following October and lead the Red Devils to another pair of titles, but his accomplishments on the pitch would forever be overshadowed by what happened just off of it.
2. Malice at the Ice Palace
When: December 23rd, 1979
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
The Fight Card: John Kaptain vs. His Own Shoe
Plenty of bad blood has pumped back and forth between Boston and New York in the decades since, but this frosty riot remains one for the MSG rafters. Like the footage itself, the story is a little fuzzy, but it goes something like this: In the middle of a post-game brawl—a staple of the 1970s NHL experience—John Kaptain, an unusually bold business man from Jersey, leaned over the glass and smacked Bruins enforcer Stan Johnathan in the face with a rolled-up program, stealing his stick in the process. To defend his teammate’s honor, Mike Milbury—now plying his trade as NBCSN’s resident “tough guy” hockey goon—leapt over the glass, removed Kaptain’s shoe, and proceeded to beat him with it. By the time arena security had regained control, all but one Bruins player had climbed into the stands. That holdout? Goalie Gerry Cheevers. “I was already on my second beer,” he says.
1. Malice at the Actual Palace
When: November 19th, 2004
Where: The Palace at Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
The Fight Card: Ron Artest vs. The World
The Palace of Auburn Hills had certainly seen its share of drunken debauchery and hard-nosed basketball by the time November 19th, 2004 rolled around, but let’s get one thing straight: The Malice at the Palace was not about basketball. Sure it started on the court, as heated division dust-ups usually do, but when the Artist Formerly Known As Artest got pelted with a $10 fountain coke, clambering into the stands to respond with his fists, it became, quite literally, a crime scene. In the end, 10 people were formally charged with assault, resulting in $11 million dollars worth of player suspensions, countless hours of community service, and a host of new NBA security regulations. Over a decade later, it’s hard not to look back on this night with slack-jawed amusement, but at the time it was a sobering (but not very sober) glimpse at the dark side of fandom.
Sports in worst fights
The 15 Craziest Fan Brawls at Sporting Events
Sports fandom is great for many reasons. It facilitates social connections, both those relationships that last a long time (like friendships fueled by shared fandom) and the more ephemeral connections with strangers sporting your team’s laundry. It provides an escape from the stresses of everyday life. It can even inspire you to exercise. We’ve seen time and time again how fandom can uplift society.
But it’s a double-edged sword. Fandom also has downsides. Exhibit A: the fight between fans at Saturday’s Steelers-Lions preseason game at Heinz Field.
Aggression often boils over in the stands, whether we’re talking about games in the United States or aborad. In European football, hooliganism that results in murder has long been an issue. Group rivalry has also proven fatal stateside, as we saw in July when a fight between a Giants fan and Eagles fan in Philadelphia turned deadly.
Fortunately, brawls in the crowd at sporting events usually don’t have such negative repercussions. Nonetheless, they are a major black eye of the sports industry—something we all should agree makes for a less pleasurable consumption experience. Let’s recount the 15 craziest fan brawls at sporting events in recent years.
Looking Back at the 10 Biggest Sports Fights of All Time
Around a month ago, the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team, and a national collegiate-level Chinese basketball team, shocked fans around the world alike when they broke out into a massive fight.
It started early in the game with pushes more rough than necessary, and evident jarring and trash-talking coming from both sides of the court.
Yet, no one expected what ended up occurring; one of the biggest sports brawls in recent memory, which led to a fan in attendance attempting to stomp on Jason Clark's (perhaps the Hoyas' most talented player) head.
John Thompson III handled it perfectly and diplomatically, getting his team out of the arena as quickly as possible, and making sure the teams met up to apologize and so forth. Yet, this didn't stop the fight, produced in a simple friendly game, from being video footage clicked on thousands of times on YouTube, or from being the headline picture of many sports section of many newspapers across America.
It was a huge, huge sports fight. But how does it compare to the top ten?
--Hope you enjoy, and remember this is in no order; you can comment with your own order though.
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