Aside from celebrities, athletes are among the biggest personalities that graced every household’s television. They bank on their skills and athleticism and are among the most popular which makes them land on numerous endorsements. Aside from their fame, children all over the world look upon them and idolize them in the hopes of becoming like them in the near future.
While there are many athletes who are good role models to the youth, there are still many others who became popular not just because of their athletic abilities but also through their outrageous behavior and constant encounters with the officers of law and enforcement. Of course, the sports world will not be complete without its fair share of scandals, issues, and controversies.
Hence, below are 5 of the most controversial athletes in sports history.
1. Tiger Woods, Golf
When you hear the word “golf,” you’ll often associate the sport with the name “Tiger Woods.” Born as Eldrick Tont Woods, Tiger is a professional golfer and one of the most successful golfers of all time. He is also among the highest-paid athletes and has been awarded the PGA Player of the Year 10 times. Starting his professional career in golf in 1996, he broke numerous records such as the youngest player to achieve the Grand Slam three times, won 17 world golf championships, and the youngest player to win 50 tournaments in a tour, making him a dominant force in the world of golf.
However, Woods got involved in a total of 14 extramarital affairs that were evidenced by racy photos and eventually led to his divorce from the Swedish model, Elin Nordegren.
He even admitted about his addiction to sex and did not deny any of the infidelity issues that were revealed by his mistresses. His once squeaky clean and Mr. Perfect image was erased, costing him his reputation that decreased his ranking. He even experienced a winless streak of 107 weeks.
2. Mike Tyson, Boxing
He was once the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and the first and youngest boxer to hold the WBC, WBA, and IBF heavyweight titles. In fact, Tyson’s first 19 matches were won by him during the first round, all via technical knockout. However, the life of the ‘saddest man on the planet’ is not complete without controversies.
Known for his intimidating and ferocious boxing style and controversial behavior in and out of the ring, Mike Tyson was once convicted of rape in 1992 and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. He was released after serving 3 years in jail and immediately went back to the boxing ring to regain his title, wherein he was successful.
Unfortunately, he lost his WBA title to Evander Holyfield in 1996 and during the 1997 rematch, he was disqualified for biting Holyfield’s ear.
3. Dennis Rodman, Basketball
A basketball Hall of Famer and a member of the Chicago Bulls champion team, it is impossible not to recognize Dennis Rodman once he’s inside the court. Dubbed as the “best rebounding forward in NBA history,” he led the NBA record in rebounds for 7 consecutive years, thanks to his fierce defensive abilities. Nonetheless, he was considered as the “bad boy,” dying his hair in artificial colors, showcasing tattoos and piercings, and numerous altercations with opposing players and officials.
Aside from this, Rodman clashed with the Spurs management which resulted in his suspension, tried to commit suicide, had a much-publicized relationship with Madonna, and married actress Carmen Electra in Las Vegas.
He also had alcohol issues, going in and out of the rehab center, and was arrested numerous times for drunk driving and driving without a license. Despite his bad-boy image, it cannot be argued that Rodman is one of the dominant forces in the NBA when it comes to rebounding.
4. OJ Simpson, Football
OJ Simpson will always be remembered for the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. But prior to that, Simpson was an American football player who is known as the only player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a 14 game season as well as the only player to rush for over 200 yards in 6 different games. He likewise holds the record of 143 yards per game in just a single season that enabled him to be elected to the Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
However, OJ Simpson became synonymous with “criminal” when he was tried for the murder case of Nicole Brown, his former wife, and Ronald Goldman in 1994. Often characterized as the “trial of the century,” Simpson was acquitted. But that doesn’t end there. In 1999, a tax lien case was filed against Simpson, and was arrested in 2001 for simple battery and burglary, to which he was also acquitted.
He was again arrested in 2002 for failing to comply with boating regulations and in 2007, he was charged with criminal conspiracy, assault, kidnapping, robbery, and using a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to 33 years in prison.
5. Lance Armstrong, Cycling
When it comes to cycling, Lance Armstrong will always be on top of everyone’s list. Prior to his professional cycling career, he was a triathlete and a national sprint course triathlon champion. He started his professional cycling career in 1992 where he won the Tour de France record for 7 consecutive times. In 1996, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which already spread to his brain and lungs, and underwent surgeries and chemotherapies. He was cancer-free in 1997 and established the Lance Armstrong Foundation which provides support for cancer patients.
Unfortunately, he got involved in a series of controversies. He faced doping allegations and was charged for using performance-enhancing drugs, which he denied during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The USADA even concluded that Lance Armstrong used the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” Because of this, Armstrong was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles.
Controversial, isn’t it? But regardless of the issues, scandals, and legal troubles these athletes got involved in, it cannot be argued that they are one of the best and the most dominating in the sport they play, setting unbeaten records and contributing a lot in the world of sports.