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Sport's Biggest Bust-Ups

Jamie Summers and Beth Jakubowski select some of their most memorable sporting bust ups

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Okay, Break It Up, Boys

The Jimmy Anderson and Ravi Jadeja 'spat' was not exactly a sporting bust up of epic proportions. In fact, the whole event was fairly woeful. In light of the grand reveal that it was a mere push that almost caused cricket politics to implode, the Nouse sport team started to think about the sporting bust-ups that changed the course of matches, series and in some cases, history. Here's a list of our most memorable fights and altercations in sporting history.

Joe Root and David Warner

Joe Root looks more like a Milky Bar Kid than someone capable of a bar room brawl
Joe Root looks more like a Milky Bar Kid than someone capable of a bar room brawl

It isn't often that cricketers come to blows on the field of play, so Joe Root and David Warner's show down in a Birmingham bar raised a few eyebrows. In a bizarre turn of events David Warner took exception to Joe Root's wig while they were enjoying a night out with their teammates, and as any aggrieved man would do, he snatched it straight of Root's head and then lamped him. An alternate version of the story has Joe Root in a fake beard and Warner downing jager bombs prior to the attack. We may never know what occurred on that fateful night in Birmingham, but we can safely assume Joe 'The Milky Bar Kid' Root didn't fight back. He probably still gets ID'd in bars.

Anyway, Warner ended up getting dropped from the Australian side and England went on to win the 2013 Ashes series comprehensively. But Root's smug victory was somewhat short lived, Warner got his own back by being in the side that thumped England 5-0 in Australia. In 2015 the two sides will meet again on English soil, let's just hope Root keeps away from wigs and fake beards. For all our sakes.

Luis Suarez vs. Football

Luis Suarez first came to international fame at the 2010 World Cup and earned himself a ticket to the Premier League. Anyone that did a bit of research, though, found out that Suarez' exit from Ajax was less than amicable; he'd been serving a seven match ban for getting a bit peckish and biting £V Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal. Unfortunately, it turned out not just to be a case of missing elevenses for the Uruguayan, as Branislav Ivanovic was to discover in April 2013. During a game with Chelsea Suarez overcooked his efforts, this time sinking his teeth into the Blues' defender. He was walloped with a ten-match ban, giving him time to chew over his actions.

Things really came to a head this summer in Brazil. After lauding it about after dumping England out at the Group Stage, Suarez allowed things to boil over once more in the second-round game against Italy. The forward took a chunk out of Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder, before dropping to the floor like a sack of spuds, clutching his teeth as though Chiellini's shoulder had been the aggressor. Perhaps he misread his name as Cannelloni? What followed was a series of rather excellent internet memes. Suarez ended up losing any respect still left for him, certainly in England. One bite was serious. Two was madness. Three courses, sorry bites, was just insane. FIFA uncharacteristically decided to grow a spine and slap him with a four-month ban, accelerating his Anfield exit.

Unconfirmed reports suggest the Spanish FA will be introducing shoulder pads for defenders in the 2014/15 season.

Ian Botham and Ian Chappell

Botham and Chappell have never really seen eye to eye
Botham and Chappell have never really seen eye to eye

Ian Botham and Ian Chappell - how do I put this delicately - well, they loathe and despise each other. Their feud reached breaking point during the 2010/11 Ashes series when after the day's play, Chappell and Botham encountered each other in a car park. According to David 'Bumble' Lloyd, they had to be prised apart by a chap called 'Big Ron'. They first clashed in 1977 when they both were at a bar by the MCG and reports on this incident are largely ambiguous. Chappell says Botham pushed him while Botham says Chappell pushed him. Chappell says Botham held a glass to his throat and Botham says he would never do such a thing. Botham says he went hurtling out of the bar after Chappell and vaulted a car bonnet, Chappell says Botham followed him ranting and raving and had to be restrained by teammates. Even 43 years after their first scuffle Botham and Chappell are still at each other's throats. It's an impressively long feud, I almost respect them for it.

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier

Muhammad Ali is, by pretty much everyone's measure, the greatest boxer of all time. That is reflected in his nickname, which is, well, 'The Greatest'. But Ali was also known for his bitter rivalry with Joe Frazier, which is the most well-known in boxing history. Their rivalry was seen by many as a microcosm for the major social issues of the day - Ali was a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War, and before their first meeting in 1971, he referred to Frazier as a "dumb tool of the white establishment."

Frazier appeared to do his talking in the ring, handing Ali his first professional defeat as a boxer. That wasn't the end though (imagine a boxer letting sleeping dogs lie?!). The pair met on another two occasions, Ali winning the bout at Madison Square Gardens in 1974. They then met a third time for the 'Thrilla in Manila' in 1975, and Ali won that too. Handbags at dawn it certainly wasn't, and Ali was secured as the greatest boxer around. However, afterwards he did label Frazier the best boxer in the world alongside himself. Isn't that nice?


Violence seems to break out in favoured American sports on a regular basis. In ice hockey, they have the 'enforcer', a member of the squad whose job it is to start fights. No really, this is a thing. I can't quite imagine that job title in British sport. Perhaps the best depiction of hockey violence was the 1997 Detriot Red Wings game against Colorado Avalanche. By the time the match ended there had been nine fights led expertly by the Red Wings enforcer Danny McCarthy. The defining moment of the match was when McCarthy launched himself at Avalanche's Claude Lemieux sparking a brawl that engulfed both teams, including the goal tenders and the men on the bench. Impressive.

Even in baseball, a non contact sport, there have been countless fights when angry batters charge the mound and hurl themselves at the pitchers who have invoked their ire. Another notorious brawl was the 2004 'Malice at the Palace', which led to nine players getting suspended, five players being charged with assault and five fans facing criminal charges. This was in basketball. Yes, basketball. America, you have some anger issues you definitely need to work through.

Eric Cantona vs. Mathew Simmons

Cantona showed off some impressive kung fu skills with this ill advised kick
Cantona showed off some impressive kung fu skills with this ill advised kick

Back in 1995, the Premier League was still in its infancy, and the race for the title was realistically between Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United. At the time, lethal French striker Eric Cantona led the line for Alex Ferguson's side. Cantona had a reputation for being rather, er, incendiary, but on one occasion, he took things just a bit too far. In the 56th minute of United's match against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, Cantona was sent for an early bath after a tackle on Palace's Richard Shaw. As Cantona headed for the tunnel, a Palace fan called Matthew Simmons ran towards him to give him a mouthful of abuse. Witnesses nearby have suggested that Simmons said things that we can't afford to repeat, but let's just say it was on the colourful side. Cantona responded by demonstrating his kung fu abilities, kicking Simmons and throwing in a few punches for good measure. If you haven't seen it, take a look on YouTube.

Simmons got the last laugh though. Cantona was banned for 8 months, fined £30,000 and stripped of the captaincy of the French National team. Since, he has embarked on a failed run for the French presidency and featured in an ad for Stella Artois. How the mighty have fallen.

Oh, and Blackburn won the title.

The Football War

We all know that football rivalries can be fierce, intense and enthralling. A derby win against your biggest rivals is as sweet as anything. Seeing their upset little faces trudge out of the away end after you've given them a pasting is a sight to behold.

But things went a little bit too far in 1969. We kid you not, El Salvador and Honduras actually went to war over a football match. Sort of. The backdrop to events was a bit more heated than a sliding tackle inside the box - there were major economic issues at the time, mainly centred on immigration into Honduras from El Salvador. However, things came to a head when the two countries met in qualifiers for the 1970 World Cup. There was rioting at the game, and El Salvador won 3-2 in extra time. The country severed diplomatic ties with their neighbours that evening, and launched a military attack against Honduras. A ceasefire was called within 100 hours, but officially, the dispute remains unresolved.

There's rivalry, and then there's rivalry. And here was us, thinking that England's needle with the Germans was a bit tasty!

Mick Morgan vs Kelvin Skerrett


Those are the immortal words of Mick Morgan, a god amongst men, an unabashed and unashamedly biased commentator who did what all commentators dream of doing; he slagged off a player with the most colourful language he could and got away with it. For this reason he takes the top spot, because as journalists, we have to respect the daredevil nature of Morgan. It takes a real man to insult a terrifyingly large rugby player from your comfortable seat in the commentary box.

It's never a great idea to allow a former assistant coach to take on unbiased commentary for a game. It was back in 1994 that the best piece of commentary in the history of sport happened, when Morgan got a little bit giddy during the Regal Trophy rugby league final match between Castleford Tigers and Wigan Warriors. Morgan was less than pleased with a tackle from Wigan's Kelvin Skerrett, for which he received a yellow card from referee Dave Campbell. Well, Morgan exploded. Amongst the highlights were Morgan claiming that he couldn't speak in shock, ('I CAN'T SPAAAAYK), despite screaming quite passionately. He called Campbell a 'bottleless get' before screaming 'YOU DICKHEAD!'

Castleford's Lee Crooks then got the ball, progressed up the field and scored a try beneath the posts to secure a 32-2 victory. Morgan was just a little bit happy, screaming "SHOVE IT UP YOURS! HE'S THE BEST PROP IN THE WORLD! NEVER MIND ANYBODY ELSE!"

Indeed, Mick. Indeed.

So there you have it. Nouse's most memorable sporting bust-ups. If you'd like to get involved comment below and share the your most memorable sporting bust-ups, whether it be a full on fight, nasty verbals or handbags on the field of play!

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