Wigan prop Ben Flower’s outrageous, and let’s be honest, downright savage double punch on St Helens half-back Lance Hohaia in last weekend’s Rugby League Grand Final sent shockwaves through the world of sport.
His second minute red card at Old Trafford was a classic ‘red mist’ moment, that’s earned him a record six-month ban.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen people lose their heads in the heat of battle though. Here are seven other first-rate sporting meltdowns…
The Head Banger
Tennis stars are often highly-strung, dare I say it slightly spoilt individuals, but usually they take out their frustration on the umpire. Not Mikhail Youzhny. No, the Russian literally chose to beat himself up for hitting the ball into the net during the 2008 Miami Open, by smashing his racket repeatedly into his own forehead until he made himself bleed. Profusely. Youzhny’s madcap moment, led to a medical time out where he asked a doctor to patch him up. Silly boy.
A Water Cooler Moment
In 1999, LA Dodgers pitcher Carlos Perez was so frustrated at his poor performance that he could take it no more. Picking on the nearest water cooler (as you do) he repeatedly pummeled it with his bat in such a frighteningly ferocious manner that you truly felt sorry for the piece of plastic. Hopefully the club sent him for anger management training after this episode.
Savagery In The Sand
Sergio Garcia is by all accounts a lovely chap, but if he’s having an off day my advice is to approach the Spaniard with extreme caution. Unfortunately for a bunker at Whistling Straits during the 2010 PGA Championship there was no such choice. After watching his chip come up well short of the flag, Garcia took the offending club and smashed it over and over and over again into the stricken sand pit. So much for golf being a genteel sport, eh?
The Angel of Doom
Whatever you do, don’t attack the referee. We all know that’s a golden rule, don’t we? Not so, Cuban taekwondo star Angel Matos, who chose to lash out at a Swedish judge for disqualifying him in the bronze medal match at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Connecting beautifully with a precision head kick, the sulky fighter then promptly shoved another official in the chest, before spitting on the floor on his way out. It was no surprise this charming competitor was never allowed to compete again. Ever.
While we’re on the subject of martial arts, no world-renowned footballer has ever seen the ‘red mist’ quite like Eric Cantona did at Selhurst Park in 1995. Walking down the side of the pitch having been sent off, the Manchester United ace heard Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons giving him a bit of stick. It’s nothing new, but for reasons unknown this time the Frenchman flipped, launching both studs into the chest of his heckler, before following up with a punch or two for good measure. Twelve pages were devoted to the incident in The Sun the following day, and it was even discussed in the House of Commons.
Malice at the Palace
Where do I start with this one? What began with a shove from Detroit Pistons’ Ben Wallace on Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers, led to an unprecedented riot at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004. Initially trying to diffuse the row, NBA star Artest laid himself on the scorer’s table while chaos around him ensued – until that is, a fan threw a hot cup of coffee at him. This frazzled Artest’s mind completely. Leaping into the crowd in a fit of rage to fight who he thought was the assailant (he got the wrong guy) he sparked a brawl that soon seemed to have the entire stadium scrapping with one another. Chairs were thrown, pepper spray filled the air, and the game was abandoned. Nine fans were injured and nine players were suspended in what was described as “the low point in NBA history.”
It’s not always the athletes that lose their heads in the heat of battle, as Minna Wilson proved at a British light-heavyweight title bout in Southampton in 1989. There to support her son Tony who was being clobbered left, right and centre by opponent Steve McCarthy, the angry mum leapt through the ropes with a stiletto shoe in hand, to dish out some punishment herself. Little Minna cut McCarthy’s forehead open with a gash that required four stitches to close, and the fight was called off. ”I don’t know what happened to me,” said Mrs Wilson, who was upset by racial epithets shouted by the crowd at her son. ”The chants and shouts did it. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.” Mercifully, the shoe-wielding parent vowed never to watch her son fight again.
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, Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0))
, Flickr (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))