Sporting the bad boy image
Andrew Symonds: To call Symonds the most controversial figure in cricketing lore won’t be much of an understatement. There is nothing that this man thought was off limits be it on the field or off of it. He is perhaps best remembered for the Sydney Gate scandal, also referred to as the Monkey gate scandal where he accused Indian bowler Harbhajan Singh of calling him a monkey in the middle of an India-Australia test match. The incident sparked a huge and ugly row leading to the relations between the two teams to become extremely strained. Symonds tryst with controversies. though, would not end here. In 2009, he created another scene in England in an inebriated state resulting in his central contract being terminated by the Australian Cricket Board. He also abused New Zealand player Brendon McCullum on a live radio show, missed a crucial team meeting because he had gone fishing and also revealed that he used to go to his team-mate Matthew Hayden’s house quite often to ogle at the former’s wife.
Shoaib Akhtar: A bowler, who on his day could dismantle any batting line-up in the world, Shoaib Akhtar’s once promising career was littered with controversies. His laundry list of suspensions and bans are the stuff of modern cricket folklore. He criticized former Pakistani greats in an interview, infamously became the second bowler in the history of ODI cricket to be charged with ball tampering, got banned for abusing players no matter of which country and was also accused of taking performance enhancing drugs in 2006 with fellow cricketer Mohammad Asif, which again earned him a 2 year ban from the sport. In addition to that he had a poor disciplinary record which branched from his party animal image. He had a lot of potential. Some say he lived up to it and some say he didn’t. The answer somewhere is blowing in the wind.
Shane Warne: Another Australian and another outstanding career marred by controversies. Considered as the greatest spinner in the history of the game, Warne saw his reputation and career go up in smoke when just a day before the 2003 Cricket World Cup he was tested positive in a drug test, a drug he claimed was a prescribed one that his mother gave him to improve his appearance. He was banned for 1 year before making a comeback and salvaging his reputation with his subsequent performances becoming the first bowler in history to reach the milestone of taking 700 wickets.
Virat Kohli: The most recent addition to this list and without a doubt the undisputed future of Indian cricket. With his brand of aggressive cricket, Kohli became the first Indian captain since 1993 to lead India to victory in Sri-Lanka in the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka Test series. His career trajectory has just started to peak and he has a long successful path ahead of him, but he still has a fair amount of controversial incidents attached to his name. From flipping off live crowds to abusing the wrong journalist as well as breaching a host of BCCI code of conducts and having altercations with opponents on the field, Kohli has done it all in his brief career which has made him a poster child for controversies. With the captain’s responsibilities on his shoulders, he seems to be growing more mature by the day.
Mario Balotelli: Referred to as Super Mario by his fans, Balotelli was a teenage prodigy when he first broke through the ranks in Inter Milan. He was always going to be a trick pony judging by his antics on and off the field, but little did the football world know what Balotelli was actually capable of. From turning up in a news channel wearing an AC Milan jersey while playing for archrivals Inter Milan because he was ‘a boyhood Milan fan’ to getting red carded at the start of the second half of a crucial match even after the manager’s repeated warnings to him of ‘not to do anything stupid’ when he was already on a yellow card, the signs of Balotelli’s eccentric nature were already showing in Italy, but it was his move to Manchester City in England where the madness really started. Sending off fireworks in his own house, throwing darts at youth team players because ‘he was bored’, allegedly stamping on the head of an opposing player and getting into a physical altercation with his coach, Balotelli’s first stint in the English Premier League was a bittersweet affair. Though he won the EPL title, he was labeled as the ultimate bad boy of this generation, a tag which till date he hasn’t been able to shrug off.
Luis Suarez: One of the prolific players of this generation, the Uruguayan’s sublime skills are often overshadowed by his controversial conducts on the field. Though, now as a Barcelona player he has <g data-gr-id="177">strayed</g> clear of any untoward events, his infamous biting incidents will forever haunt his otherwise exceptional career. His first biting escapade was when he played for Ajax and bit PSV player Bakkal which earned him a 2 match suspension and a fine. However, his tendency to dig his teeth into the heart of controversies still remained as witnessed in the 2013 match between Liverpool and Chelsea.
Suarez playing for Liverpool would again delve into his bag of devious tricks and bite opponent defender Branislav Ivanovic which would again cost him a 10 match ban. You would have thought that this was the end of his biting career, but Suarez just would not relent. In his third biting incident which is the most famous one, in World Cup 2014 in a match against Italy he would again bite Giorgio Chiellini, an Italian defender earning him a 9 match ban, his longest yet which ruled him out of the World Cup. In addition to his biting incidents, Suarez also courted controversy when he was accused of using racist slurs against Manchester United player Patrice Evra effectively handing him another 8 match ban and a hefty fine.
Eric Cantona: Despite having a rather illustrious career, Manchester United’s French talisman would always be known for that kick on a Crystal Palace fan in 1995 at Selhurst Park. The United legendary number 7 was sentenced to 2 weeks of prison time and 120 hours of community service after that incident.
Diego Maradona: The best player that the world had ever seen was also a poster child for controversy, the most famous of which was back in World Cup 1994 when he was tested positive for an illegal drug which effectively ended his storied career. He also courted controversy over his famous Hand of God goal where he used his hand to punch the ball into the net unbeknownst to the referee in a World Cup match but after the drug scandal the mesmerising performances of the previous editions of the tournament forgotten, Maradona became the symbol for all that was wrong with football in those days.
After Muhammad Ali, the only star to have as much mainstream appeal as the boxing legend has to be “Iron Mike” Mike Tyson. Considered to be one of the best boxers of his time, Tyson also like many of the personalities in this list lost the sense of direction and marred his career with one controversial act after another. His most controversial moment in the ring came in a rematch against Evander Holyfield in 1997. After being knocked out in the first fight a year earlier, Tyson was disqualified by the referee for biting Holyfield's right ear. Although he later apologised, Iron Mike admitted his sorrow was not sincere and he had no remorse for the incident. In 1992 he was sentenced to 6 years of jail term after being accused of rape, an accusation Tyson insisted was made up. Among other things, he has also admitted having been under the influence of illegal drugs on more than one occasion.
John McEnroe: When you say bad boys in any kind of sports, the name of McEnroe invariably comes into mind. Absolutely nobody in the history of Tennis has argued calls with that much gumption as the legendary American racquet wielder. Winner of 7 Grandslams, he courted controversies wherever he played. His famous rant of “You can’t be serious” when contesting calls has gained iconic status. In his career McEnroe has called match officials jerks, had temper tantrums on court and even hit a ball targeting the umpire. Still, like most of the other sports personalities in this list, he is widely beloved and respected for his eccentric and colourful career highlights.
Nick Kyrgios: The newest bad guy on the block, Kyrgios grabbed headlines when, in the middle of a 2015 Rodgers Cup match, he mentioned to opponent French Open champion, Stan Wawrinka that “Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate.” The incident created a media uproar and <g data-gr-id="178">Kyrgois</g> had to issue a rather hollow apology. Wawrinka, confronted Kyrgios in the locker room afterwards, and then blasted him in the press. The woman at the center of the story, 19-year old tennis player Donna Vekic, ripped Kyrgios, as well.