The court, the pitch, the stadium, and the ring are places that draw some of the largest crowds in the world. Sports are one of mankind’s favourite forms of entertainment, but there have been moments in history when the fun is replaced by nasty brawls that have etched themselves in our memories. At the height of the action, common sense, clear thinking, and maturity take a back seat to raw emotion. Crowds start to get rowdy while athletes forget their safety to fight for their teams. Heated moments in sports are common and some do really get nasty, involving officials and fans in the melee. Such are moments when passion and excitement are conveyed through blows, with tightening fits and flying sticks.
In a sport like hockey it isn’t uncommon to see highly-paid players drop their gloves. Despite the controversy that surrounds this characteristic of the NHL, hockey fights fall well within the rules of the game. In other sports like basketball and baseball, fighting between players is much more rare, but when it does happen, it often leads to bench-clearing brawls between teams. Times like these are hard to forget as they only occur when emotions reach a boiling point. Matters get even worse when the crowd gets involved, as a contained fight can turn into an uncontrollable riot.
Most recently, in Maranhao, on June 30, 2013, a Brazilian soccer referee was beheaded by angry fans after he allegedly stabbed a player. Gruesomely, his head was put on a stake in the middle of the field. Although justice attempts to follow such incidents, it’s impossible to erase such moments of intense madness. Below are some of the nastiest fights involving rich and successful athletes.
10. Kyle Farnsworth vs Paul Wilson (Combined Net worth – Unknown)
Kyle Farnsworth gave Paul Wilson a good beating in a June 19, baseball game in 2003. Although shorter than Wilson, the 6’4″ Farnsworth could not allow the Reds’ starting pitcher to bark at him the way he did. Wilson wasn’t happy about a high pitch and he let Farnsworth know it. The Cubs’ pitcher couldn’t take it, getting hold of Wilson and slamming him to the ground. Farnsworth landed some pretty good punches before team mates pulled him off. Kyle Farnsworth played for the Chicago Cubs, the Detroit Tigers, the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Kansas City Royals. In 2013, Farnsworth earned $1.25 million annual salary. This indicates a big drop from his previous salaries when he earned $4.5 million in 2010, $2.7 million in 2011 and $3.3 million in 2012.
9. Andrew Golota vs Riddick Bowe (Combined Net Worth – $20+ Million)
In 2006, what was supposed to be an average heavyweight fight turned out to be one of the dirtiest fights in boxing history. The incident became ugly after Andrew Golota was disqualified for repeatedly hitting his opponent Riddick Bowe below the belt. Bowe’s coaches stormed the ring in retaliation for the cheap shots, turning it into a battle field. Golota’s 74-year-old trained was escorted by the paramedics after he collapsed and Golota was hit hard in the head with a cell phone. The scene became mayhem in no time. Riddick Bowe grew up in one of the toughest slums in Brooklyn. He was a two-time world heavyweight champion and is reportedly worth over $20 Million. Golota has lost much of his boxing fortune and has a current net worth of about $30,000.
8. Mike Vernon vs Patrick Roy (Combined Net Worth – $56+ Million)
That night, March 26, 1997 has been referred to as “Fight Night at the Joe,” “Bloody Wednesday” and “Brawl In Hockeytown.” Those who remember seeing it will always associate it with names of reputable Hockey players like Claude Lemieux, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, and Rene Corbet. Colorado and Detroit met for the 1996 Western Conference Finals and during the game, Avalanche winger Claude Lemieux checked Kris Draper of the Red Wings hard into the boards. There were nine different fights that night starting with the fight between Claude Lemieux and Darren McCarty, but fans will always remember the brawl between Patrick Roy and Mike Vernon which left Roy with a gash on his forehead. The ice was splattered with blood patches and had to be cleaned up after the game. Mike Vernon amassed almost $24 million in salary over his career. He is one of the greatest legends in Hockey with many achievements, including being a Stanley Cup champion, 385 game winner, and 5 time All-Star hockey player. Patrick Roy has a net worth of over $56 million.
7. Nolan Ryan vs Robin Ventura (Combined Net Worth – $60+ Million)
Baseball has its moments of jubilant uproar, but also of heated tension and blatant indiscipline. Nolan Ryan, an eight-time All-Star selection, and the only player to have pitched seven “no hitters” will always be remembered for his on-field fight with Robin Ventura. It happened in a game between the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 1993. The legendary pitcher instantly put Ventura in a headlock after Ventura stormed the mound, and rained blows on his head until he became helpless. Benches cleared, and team mates struggled to stop the fight. Nolan Ryan has played as pitcher for Houston Astros, California Angels, Texas Rangers, and York Mets, earning himself a net worth of $60 Million from his baseball career. Due to the wide age gap between Ryan and Ventura, the brawl has often been thought off as a lesson by an elder to a younger man on the importance of professionalism in sports.
6. Carmelo Anthony vs Jared Jeffries (Combined Net Worth – $60+ Million)
New York Knicks’ All-Star player, Carmelo Anthony has been known for getting dirty with his opponents. He slapped Spencer Hawes for no apparent reason, but the best may have been his fight with Jared Jeffries in a Knicks-Nuggets regular season game on December 16, 2006. A hard ball foul had occurred between Nate Robinson and J.R. Smith, an incident that could be considered a minor fight in itself, but Anthony decided to take matters into his own hands. Approaching the Knicks’ Jared Jeffries, he took a shot at the forward/center and quickly ducked for safety. The quick shot caused a stir among players who had to be restrained from making an already bad situation worse. Carmelo Anthony is one of the most successful NBA players whose first 5 years with the NBA alone brought in $94 million in salary. He reached his peak in the 2011-2012 season, and has a net worth of $60 million.
5. Zinedine Yazid Zidane vs Marco Materazzi (Combined Net Worth- $70+ Million)
In the 2006 World Cup final French soccer icon Zinedine Zidane had one of the nastiest fights of his career. The fight was brief, but took everyone by surprise. Marco Materazzi was completely blindsided by Zidane’s infamous headbutt which sent him sprawling to the pitch. Materazzi had allegedly made a slur on the French player’s sister, and Zidane’s reaction became the most recognized moment of his career. He delivered his headbutt straight to the chest of the Italian defender and was issued a red card that sent him out of the game, effectively ending his stellar career in the process. Widely respected as one of the best footballers of all time, Zidane has an estimated net worth of $70 million. The incident became immortalized with a statue outside the Pompidou Center which contains the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Qatar.
4. Ben Wallace vs Ron Artest (Combined Net Worth – $85 Million)
The fight that came to be known in history as “The Malice in the Palace” has been one of the dirtiest brawls in NBA history. It was during a 2004 match between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons that a minor foul on Ben Wallace sparked the fight. Wallace retaliated, pushing and shoving Pacer Ron Artest right off the court. Although Artest walked away from the altercation, his team mate, Stephen Jackson intervened, in an effort to initiate a fight. The situation became ugly when a fan threw a beer that hit Artest. Everyone soon joined the mess, players and fans, officials and coaches. Ben Wallace has played as power forward and center for numerous NBA teams, earning a net worth of $50 million. He is well-known for his formidable skills with notable teams like the Chicago Bulls, Washington Bullets, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons. Ron Artest has played for numerous teams as well, with an estimated annual salary of $7.2 Million. His net worth is $35 Million. Also known as “Metta World Peace,” he has played for the Bulls and the Indiana Pacers. Stephen Jackson, was not among the richer NBA players and is no longer active in the league.
3. Clint Bowyer vs Jeff Gordon (Combined Net Worth – $170 Million)
In November 2012, during a race at the Phoenix International Raceway, Clint Bowyer lost his temper after being pinned to the wall by Jeff Gordon. He left his battered vehicle to settle the score with Gordon the old fashioned way. What followed was a brawl involving officials, racers, and pit crews. This is one of the rare times a fight of this scale has erupted during a NASCAR event. Jeff Gordon has earned a lot of money from product endorsements as well as racing prizes. He has a net worth of $150 million dollars with a $22 million annual salary. Clint Bowyer has a net worth of $30 Million.
2. Kevin Garnett vs Udonis Haslem (Combined Net Worth – $195 Million)
The fight occurred during Game 1 of the 2010 Eastern Conference quarter-finals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. Celtics’ forward, Paul Pierce, had received an injury to his shoulder. Udonis Haslem and Kevin Garnett started an altercation over Pierce, which led to both teams joining the fray, grabbing and shoving each other. The brawl only cooled after numerous foul cards were issued. According to the media, Kevin Garnett stopped Heat guard, Quentin Richardson, who tried to check the injured Pierce. Kevin Garnett’s estimated annual salary is $28 million, with a net worth of $180 million. One of his biggest contracts was a 6-year deal of over $126 million in 1997. He has played for the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics. Some of his achievements include a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics and NBA All-Star Game MVP for 2003. Udonis Haslem earned his net worth of $15 Million playing for several teams. His career as a basketball player reached its peak with the Miami Heat, where he developed an amazing 15-foot jump shot.
1. Alex Rodriguez vs Jason Varitek (Combined Net Worth – $310 Million)
It was during a summer classic at Fenway Park between Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees that Alex Rodriguez lashed out in anger and started one of the nastiest fights in baseball after getting hit by a pitch from Bronson Arroyo. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tried to calm A-Rod down but was pushed back. The situation grew worse when Varitek shoved a catcher’s mitt in Rodriguez’s face. A lot of pushing and shoving followed as fans stood up to cheer. One of the highest-paid athletes of all time, Alex Rodriguez has earned $325 million in salary alone. He has a net worth of $300 Million. The All-Star player is currently suspended for allegedly using performance enhancing drugs, a decision that could keep him off the baseball diamond until the beginning of 2015.