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Biggest Fights in the History of Sports

  • In the Florida war two close Universities’ football team started to fight
  • An ice hockey game between Canada and the USSR turned into a mass brawl
  • Most famous incident involved fans and NBA players in the Malice at the Palace
biggest fights in the history of sports
Image via Flickr

There are heated moments during games when one or sometimes both participants lose their patience and start to fight. It can easily happen in sports where physical contact is common like in ice hockey, rugby or american football. But players even in football or basketball can get wild like it has already happened in the biggest fights in the history of sports. 

Sports is about fair play, respecting the rules and your opponents, all the time in every situation. Even though the game can decide about a world title or winning the championship. But from time to time we could witness events when these rules were broken and violence erupted between players or sometimes between whole teams. From the following events we can say that fights can easily break out in the most popular American sports thanks to big rivalries, too much pressure or even after a soft drink. 

Mass brawls in the biggest fights in the history of sports

Ice hockey is quite an aggressive sport with lots of physical contact between the players. Arguments between players can easily turn into fights which are almost normal here. But there have been games when these fights turned into a mass brawl. One of the most famous one happened during the NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators in 2004. Several fights happened during the game, which resulted in a league record penalty minutes, with 419 minutes in total. The reason for all this was an incident in an earlier game between the two teams.  When Senators’ player Martin Havlat hit Flyers’ Mark Recchi in the head with his stick. Even though Havlat was given a two-game suspension and a fine, Flyers players and their coach promised to take revenge and kept their promises. 

biggest fights in the history of sports
Hockey fight – Image via Flickr

American football is also a tough sport, where players can lose their calm easily. One of the craziest fights happened in Miami, in a game between Miami Hurricanes and FIU Golden Panthers in 2006. In the so-called Florida war where two University teams located only nine miles from each other took their rivalry into another level. The players used their helmets as weapons and also threw haymakers at each other. After the game 31 players were suspended as online sportsbooks news in the US were also reporting. Hopefully there won’t be similar scenes in the next NCAA season which starts at the end of August. 

Historical fights

In the history of sports there have been violent events in earlier eras as well, often originating in historical rivalries or hate. A good example for that is the final game in the 1987 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, where Canada played against the USSR. At that time these two countries were dominating the sport for decades and the rivalry between them was huge. The fight between the players broke out in the 2nd period and took place for more than 20 minutes, involving everyone. The officials left the ice and turned off the lights but even that didn’t help. The game was void and the players including several future NHL stars were suspended for 18 months. 

Another Soviet team was involved in a famous fight many decades earlier in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. There the USSR water polo team met the Hungarian team, only a few weeks after the violent Soviet suppression of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. The Hungarians had the best team then and were leading the game 4-0. Then a Russian player, Valentin Prokopov lost his patience and struck Hungarian Zador, who started to bleed after his injury. When the audience saw this, many of them jumped into the pool and threatened the Russian players. The game was stopped and it was awarded to Hungary. We might see their water polo team again to fight for the medals next year in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Sportsmen with disciplinary issues

We can find several football players who have issues to keep their calm during the games. They commit bad tackles, argue with the referees or with their teammates. But some of them were really extreme cases known for their rage, like Eric Cantona. His most famous incident happened in 1995 in a game between Crystal Palace and his team, Manchester United. After a bad tackle against Palace player Richard Shaw Cantona was given a red card. He was walking towards the tunnel in front of the home fans, when one of them shouted abuses at him. In his reply the French madman simply launched a kung-fu kick against the fan. It was a really spectacular move. And the award for it was an eight-month ban, a huge fine and 120 hours of community service. 

biggest fights in the history of sports
Football had its fair share of fights – Image via flickr

But even Nascar drivers can lose it sometimes. Like in the 1979 Daytona race, which was the first live broadcast race from start to finish. Leaders of the race, Donnie Alison and Cale Yarborough were fighting until the last lap when they collided and ended on the grass. But it wasn’t the end of it. As Alison’s brother, Bobby went to pick up his brother. He started to argue with Yarborough who hit him with his helmet. Then they started to fight, safety workers should have broken them up at the end. 

Malice at the Palace

One of the biggest fights in the history of sports happened in 2004 during an NBA game between Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers.  It all started with Indiana player Ron Artest and his hard foul on Detroit’s Ben Wallace. Wallace didn’t take it lightly and started to push Artest, so their teammates had to separate them. But the rest was just coming.

Artest lied down on the scorer’s table when a fan threw a drink at him. He jumped into the crowd to confront the fan with several of his teammates following him. A huge fight broke out between the players and fans ending with the suspension of nine players. While five Pistons fans were also banned from attending the games. Though the NBA is on hold at the moment, you can still make bets on the winner of the season and the 2020 Draft on the biggest online gambling sites in the US

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