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  • Published: May 23rd, 2012
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Top 3 Inspirational Sporting Figures

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English: Bust portrait of Muhammad Ali, World ...

English: Bust portrait of Muhammad Ali, World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to sports, inspiration figures are truly sights to behold. When riding solo, they emulate brave knights, talismanic in battle. When part of a team or squad they resemble army generals, victorious due to their war conduct. Here is a celebration of sport’s most inspirational figures over the years.

Muhammad Ali

The first sportsman to coin the quote ‘I am the greatest’, Muhammad Ali owns this phrase because he simply is the greatest ever boxer to had lived. In fact it wouldn’t even be possible to begrudge Ali claiming he meant the greatest ever ‘sportsman’, when he uttered what was to become his infamous catchphrase.

His speed was incredible, precision tremendous and power mind boggling. Ali was a man of extraordinary talent and charisma. The most entertaining in and out of the ring, Ali’s title as ‘the king’ is hard to dispute.

Sportsmen are often appreciated for their worth away from the actual sports cameras and in front of the interview cameras. Ali also excelled tremendously in this aspect, giving viewers limericks, poems, banter and some truly memorable quotes.

Arkle

Three Cheltenham Gold Cups, Two Hennessy Gold Cups, the Whitbread Gold Cup, Irish Grand National, King George VI and Gallagher Gold Cup speak for themselves. In fact, if I’d just put these accolades as the justification behind this fine horse’s inclusion on our list, it would have sufficed. But that would have been unjustifiable to Arkle, as his praise transcends justification.

As demonstrated in his career defining race in the 1965 Gallagher Gold Cup at Kempton (www.kempton.co.uk) which saw the thoroughbred soar past the 16lb lighter Mill House in just a few strides, Arkle is truly something special.

A simple YouTube clip of him in action would be enough to understand my reasoning behind Arkle being included.

Steven Gerrard

How can Steven Gerrard’s brilliance be put into words? Simply the greatest player to ever grace the Premier League, Gerrard has it all. A leader, an inspiration, a sportsman of exceptional ability and the highest calibre, Gerrard possessed an almost supernatural knack to score the greatest goals in the most important circumstances.

From his screamer against United and Fabien Barthez, to his dream strike against Olympiakos (and we all know how important that goal went on to be), to his magnificent performance in Instanbul that saw him converted as a right back while the match went on, to his super goal against West Ham in the final of the FA Cup, and many more ridiculously superb instances – Gerrard is simply the best.

Tahar Rajab is a British sports freelance writer

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Public Displays of Terrible Sportsmanship

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Credit: bc-fotografie

Throughout history, many professional sports personalities have taken their competitive edge to the next level, by not being able to keep their frustrations and anger sealed. Usually, such unsavoury acts of sportsmanship are witnessed by the public eye and, as a consequence, their careers are forever tarnished. Here’s a look at the sporting personalities who have committed foul play, a heinous hack, or generally flipped out in front of the cameras for the viewing world to see.

 

Mike Tyson

This is perhaps one of the most notorious displays of terrible sportsmanship – the infamous WBA heavyweight championship match between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. It was to be a fight which was expected to see an end to Mike Tyson’s career, and one which neither fighter nor referee, Mills Lane, will ever forget. The first two rounds were like any other heavyweight title fight, with both men looking very hungry for the big shots and the even bigger win. There was an accidental, stray head-butt from Holyfield in the second round, cutting Tyson just above is right eye, which he didn’t take kindly too. In retaliation, Tyson resorted to feasting on of Holyfield’s ears in the third round. The bites resulted in Tyson being disqualified from the match, having his boxing license revoked and getting hit with a $3million fine, plus legal costs. During the aftermath Tyson was also very close to serving a prison sentence but got off lightly a year later when a decision was taken to restore his license.

Watch the video here

 

Zinedine Zidane

The French football superstar didn’t have the best of ends to his untarnished professional career after getting sent off in the 2006 World Cup final for assaulting Italian superstar Marco Materazzi. Zidane had already announced his plans to retire and everyone knew that the 2006 World Cup final would be the last game he ever played, but it was to be one of the most memorable of his career. Sadly it won’t be remembered for the way he gave France the lead after scoring in the first 7 minutes, but for his intentional head-butt to the chest of Marco Materazzi, after he apparently insulted his sister.

Watch the video here

 

Kevin Muskat

Football has certainly seen its fair share of fouls over the years: some accidental, some that were a result of the offending player simply losing their cool. The former Wolverhampton and Millwall star Kevin Muskat, who now plays for Australian side Melbourne Victory, had the worst end to his final season as a professional footballer after his horrific scissor kick tackle on Melbourne Hearts Adrian Zahra, which has also been hailed as one of the worst football fouls ever.

Watch the video here

 

Eric Cantona

This is one of the most notorious displays of a sports personality losing their head, which is still a talking point fifteen years on. Something that will haunt Cantona for the rest of his life. Sadly it’s the only thing people remember him for. It was to be a comment which Crystal Palace supporter, Mathew Simmons, wishes he had kept for pub banter. After Simmons supposedly made a comment about Cantona’s mum, the Manchester United super star saw red and preceded to flying kick the spectator over the side-line barrier. Cantona was banned from the game for nine months and was given community service. Simmons is still receiving threats, to this day, for causing the incident.

Watch the video here

This expose of naughty sports personalities was brought to you by Home Leisure Direct – suppliers of popular table sports equipment including air hockey, football and pool tables throughout the UK.

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