Top 10 CRAZIEST Sports Brawls Ever
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Clayton Martino.
The biggest fights ever in sports range from baseball, to hockey, to basketball to soccer, and more. Whether it was prompted by a vicious sports rivalry like the Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees brawl of 2003, or it was an all-stakes game like the 1984 Copa del Rey featuring Athletic Bilbao vs. FC Barcelona, or it was a fan-instigated fight like the Boston Bruins-New York Rangers fight of 1979, these are some of the dirtiest moments in professional sports history. WatchMojo counts down ten of the most infamous fights in sports history.
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Script written by Clayton Martino.
Top 10 Biggest Sports Brawls Ever
When there’s a lot at stake and emotions are running high, sometimes things boil over. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Sports Brawls.
For this list, we’re looking specifically at the biggest fights in sports involving multiple players from both sides.
#10: Colorado Avalanche vs. Detroit Red Wings
March 26th, 1997
Back in the late ‘90s, the Avs and Wings had one of the best rivalries in all of sports. Many remember the classic Patrick Roy and Chris Osgood fight from 1998, but it’s the previous year’s brawl that earns a spot on our list. The Red Wings were furious because of an incident involving Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux during the ’96 playoffs, and that prompted the brawl. Nicknamed Bloody Wednesday, the game featured a total of nine fights – the most memorable of which was the one between Roy and Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon, who traded blows at center ice.
#9: Athletic Bilbao vs. FC Barcelona
May 5th, 1984
There was no love lost between Athletic Bilbao and FC Barcelona when the two teams met in the 1984 Copa del Rey Final. The game was nasty from the outset, with rough tackles on both sides. Eventually, after being taunted throughout the game, Barça star Diego Maradona snapped, and got in the face of Bilbao’s Miguel Sola. This triggered a massive brawl, during which Maradona head-butted Sola and attacked several other players. Ballers from both sides began kicking and punching each other in what was ultimately Maradona’s last game at Barcelona. In total, 60 people were injured.
#8: Georgetown Hoyas vs. Bayi Rockets
August 18th, 2011
While several entries on this list are fights between rivals, this one is just plain strange. The Hoyas travelled to China to help strengthen Georgetown’s academic link with the country, playing a series of friendly exhibition basketball games there. Unfortunately, this one did not go off as planned. The Bayi Rockets were eight-time Chinese Basketball Association champions, and played aggressively from the start. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, a series of multiple fouls sparked an all-out fight between the two sides, with fans even getting in on the action. Not exactly the kind of diplomatic bonding everyone had hoped for…
#7: New York Knicks vs. Denver Nuggets
December 16th, 2006
The Nuggets led the Knicks by 19 points with just over a minute remaining when a hard foul by the Knicks’ Mardy Collins on J.R. Smith instigated a full-scale brawl. After some initial pushing between the two sides, Smith broke free and charged at Nate Robinson, tackling him into the front row. Just when things seemed to calm down, Carmelo Anthony confronted Collins and punched him in the face. After initially being knocked down, Collins retaliated by chasing Anthony down the court. Total damage? Seven players were suspended for a combined 47 games.
#6: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
October 11th, 2003
A highly competitive environment featuring two bitter rivals? It was only a matter of time before the two sides came to blows, and it happened in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. It all started when a Pedro Martinez fastball hit Karim Garcia. Martinez then proceeded to make a threatening gesture to the Yankees dugout. The next inning, Manny Ramírez grew angry at a high pitch by Roger Clemens and had to be restrained. But by that point, the dugouts had already emptied; with Yankees’ coach Don Zimmer immediately going after Martinez, who threw the 72-year-old to the ground. The Yankees got the last laugh, however, defeating Martinez and the Red Sox in Game 7 to win the series.
#5: Texas Rangers vs. Chicago White Sox
August 4th, 1993
Nolan Ryan is famous for many things: throwing seven no-hitters, striking out more than 5,000 batters… and also for beating up Robin Ventura. The Rangers and White Sox had a history of hitting each others’ players for several years leading up to this incident, and after getting beaned by Ryan, Ventura took exception and immediately charged the mound. Unfazed, however, Ryan put Ventura in a headlock and began pounding the helpless Ventura with consecutive right-handers. The most remarkable part about it? Ryan was 20 years older than Ventura.
#4: Boston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
December 23rd, 1979
Here’s another incident between a Boston team and a New York team to make our list, and this one also happened to involve fans. What started as a small skirmish between the players quickly escalated into a scary scene at the Garden. An angry Rangers fan assaulted Stan Jonathan of the Bruins with a rolled-up program, and some fans reached over the glass to punch Bruins players, who responded by going into the stands. One such player was Bruin Mike Milbury, who beat a fan with a shoe, and was remarkably only suspended for six games.
#3: Miami Hurricanes vs. FIU Golden Panthers
October 14th, 2006
The campuses of Florida International University and the University of Miami are just nine miles apart, so this game was supposed to be the first in the “City Line Series,” in an attempt to create a friendly rivalry between the two schools. What happened in this game, however, was anything but friendly. In the third quarter, FIU safety Chris Smith tackled and punched a Miami player, and it escalated into a bench-clearing brawl. One injured FIU player stepped onto the field and began using his crutches to swing at players. The teams needed the FIU police and Florida Highway Patrol State Troopers to break up the fight. All in all, a total of 31 players were suspended.
#2: Canada vs. USSR
January 4th, 1987
Better known as the Punch-up in Piestany, this brawl got so bad that the officials resorted to turning off the lights in an attempt to stop the altercation. Canada was leading the Soviets 4-2 at the time, and had a legitimate shot at winning the World Junior gold medal. The Soviets, already out of medal contention, played an aggressive game from the get-go, and the Canadians responded. With 6:07 left in the second period, a scrap erupted into a line brawl before players from both benches jumped onto the ice to join. By the time it was finally over, the IIHF had cancelled the game and kicked both teams out of the tournament.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues
March 17th, 1991
- San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
August 22nd, 1965
- New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat
April 30th, 1998
#1: Detroit Pistons vs. Indiana Pacers
November 19th, 2004
Things took a dark turn one November night at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a game between Indiana and Detroit. With 46 seconds to go, a scuffle broke out on the court after Ben Wallace took a hard foul from the Pacers’ Ron Artest. Things appeared to be settling down until Artest, who was laying on the scoring table, was hit with a drink thrown by a fan in the stands. Artest then charged into the crowd, inciting a major brawl as several other players joined him. Following the Malice at the Palace, nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games, and five fans faced assault charges and were permanently banned from Pistons home games.