31 Worst Cheap Shots In Sports History

In sports, sometimes your emotions get the best of you — especially when the sport demands contact to begin with. Sure, if emotions are running high during a particularly close cross country race, a couple kids may toss an elbow or two. But when emotions are running high during a football game, that’s when someone is apt to lower a shoulder a bit more than usual and put an opposing player in the hospital. Which is why Bronco’s cornerback Aqib Talib is in some hot water after an attempted eye gouge last night.


This isn’t the first time that Talib has found himself in hot water over behavior. How often does he get in trouble? Well, let’s take a quick look.

  • In July 2008, Talib reportedly fought Cory Boyd at the rookie symposium, an event created to help rookies smoothly transition into the NFL
  • In May 2009, Talib got in a fight with teammate Donald Penn and, whilst using his helmet as a weapon, struck teammate Torrie Cox in the eye
  • In August 2009, Talib was arrested in St. Petersburg for assaulting a cab driver and resisting arrest
  • In November 2010, Talib had to restrained from going after an official after receiving a costly penalty
  • In March 2011, Talib and his mother were charged with assault with a deadly weapon after an attack on his sister’s live-in boyfriend

You get the idea. So, is a cheap shot from someone with a laundry list of past acts of aggression truly that stunning? No. However, surprisingly, cheap shots aren’t limited to guys who have anger issues. In fact, some of the most vicious cheap shots in sports have been committed by athletes in which the action was extremely out of character. Check it out below.

Ben Flower Punches Already Unconscious Opponent


After a blind-siding haymaker knocks opponent Lance Houhaia unconscious, rugby league star Ben Flower proceeds to punch a completely vulnerable Houhaia in the face a second time.

Dennis Rodman Kicks Photographer in the Balls

Before becoming bff with the Supreme Leader of North Korea, former NBA star Dennis Rodman made a name for himself by being kind of a loose cannon in the league, specifically when he kicked photographer Eugene Amos in the groin after falling into him.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Victor Ortiz

People who wonder why Floyd Mayweather literally cannot read, take a look at this hit to the head he endures. During a bout with Victor Ortiz, Ortiz goes in for the headbutt against Mayweather. Not to be outdone, Mayweather gives him two coats of chin polish the minute Ortiz lowers his gloves.

Chris Simon Slashes Ryan Hollweg in the Face

For those of you (like me), who have never played hockey because they are too uncoordinated to ice skate, you may not be aware of how hard a hockey stick really is. So, for you, watching Chris Simon slash Ryan Hollweg in the face with his may not truly resonate. For people who do know how much that must have hurt, you can explain it to them.

Richard Grant Knocks James Butler Into Next Week After Bell

After boxer James Butler was named the victor by the judges, opponent Richard Grant was not happy. And by not happy, I mean he was angry enough to punch Butler in the face, a hit which broke his jaw, knocked out some teeth and gave him 26 stitches. Oh, and Grant went to prison for assault.

Kermit Washington Nearly Kills Rudy Tomjanovich

“The Punch,” thrown by Kermit Washington, is one of the most famous instances of sports violence. During an altercation at half-court, the Lakers and Rockets both raced towards it an attempt to assist their teams. In the heat of the moment, Lakers player Kermit Washington punches opponent Rudy Tomjanovich, essentially breaking open his face and skull and nearly killing the man on the spot.

Andrew Golata vs. Riddick Bowe’s Entire Camp

During a bout that was heavily going against Riddick Bowe, opponent Andrew Golata was disqualified after he threw his sixth low-blow of the evening. Provoked and furious, Bowe’s entire camp raced Golata, inciting a full-on brawl in the ring.

Martin McSorley Slashes Donald Brashear in the Head

During a game between the Bruins and the Canucks, Bruins player McSorley intentionally slashes Canucks opponent Brashear in the head from behind, knocking him completely unconscious and essentially ending the game. After being charged with 18 months probation for assault with a deadly weapon, McSorley would never play in another NHL game.

Izzy Alcantara vs. Entire Team

During a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Red Barons, Izzy Alcantara didn’t appreciate the throws he was receiving. So he decided to kick the catcher in the face before taking on the entire infield.

Tommy Lewis Comes Off Bench and Tackles Dicky Maegle

College football in the old days was like the Wild West: essentially lawless. Except for a few rules, such as a player not being allowed to come off the bench and tackle an opponent — which is exactly what Tommy Lewis did to Dicky Maegle in the 1954 Cotton Bowl.

Elizabeth Lambert Cheap Shots Her Way Through BYU

One or two cheap shots a game is bad enough, but when ESPN gets an entire highlight reel of just you, you’re in it deep. Which is exactly what happened to University of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert during her matchup against BYU.

Robert Horry Body Slams Steve Nash

In an attempt to foul Steve Nash, Robert Horry took things a bit far and instead pile-drove him into the scorer’s table.

Herb Pope Punches Darko Cohadarevic in the Balls Twice

Like Lambert, one low-blow is enough, but when Herb Pope hit the opposing player in the crotch a second time, that’s just brutal.

Kevin Love Curb Stomps Luis Scola

After going back and forth for the entire game, Kevin Love fouled Luis Scola to the floor, really bringing his point home by stepping on his face afterwards.

Antwan Barnes Blind-Sides Sav Rocca

When you hit the ground before you can even see who hit you, that’s about when you realize you’re in some trouble.

Zidane’s Headbutt

During the 2006 World Cup finals, Zidane and an opposing player exchanged words, ending with Zidane burying his cranium into the guy’s chest. This would be the final game of Zidane’s career.

Malcolm Mackey Annihilates Bobby Hurley

Setting a pick is one thing; throwing your entire weight into a pick is a completely different animal.

Ken Stills Lights Up Matt Suhey

A late hit is one thing; a hit that is so late that your running start begins after all other players have regained their feet, that’s another entirely.

Randy Jones Puts Patrice Bergeron Into the Glass

When both players are coming for the puck, a hit in the back is legal. However, most players give a shove just get to the puck. Not Randy Jones, he tries to imprint Patrice Bergeron’s face onto the glass surface.

Vince Young Is Used in WWE Reenactment

This was before many of us knew Vince Young as we do now. After this, he was just some WWE superfan in a football helmet.

Raja Bell Clotheslines Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is known for having his fair share of on-court feuds with fellow players. However, the one he shared with Raja Bell is one that built and built and came to a head more than a few times. Like this clothesline.

Todd Bertuzzi Breaks Steve Moore’s Neck

As is becoming readily apparent on this list, hockey is a very dangerous sport even when played correctly. Throw in a few cheap hits and whatnot, and things get very dangerous. Like this sucker punch on Steve Moore than ended up breaking his neck.

Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield’s Ear

Ah yes, a classic. Pretty much everyone knows this one, but it doesn’t make it any less ridiculous to watch again and again.

LeGarrette Blount Knocks Out Opponent After Loss

If anything truly screams “I’m a sore loser,” it’s probably knocking out your opponent after they beat you at home.

James Harrison Takes On Browns Fan

This one isn’t so much a cheap shot as the guy was asking for it when he raced onto the field but, at the same time, a full suplex body slam may have been over the top.

Jesse Boulerice Beheads Ryan Kesler

Here we are, back to hockey. Again, the difference between a clean hit and a cheap one is kind of an issue of speed and control, but this is pretty obviously an issue of Boulerice just seeking to injure Kesler.

Pacers vs. Pistons Brawl

This entire situation was out of control, but when Jermaine O’Neal cleared the court just to plant his entire fist in the face of an off-balance fan, maybe things are getting a little out of hand.

Ndamukong Suh

While the rules of this list state we should be going on a play-by-play basis, Suh has such a pantheon of questionable hits that he deserved his own little section.

Albert Haynesworth Stomps on Andre Gurode’s Face

While Ndamukong Suh has pretty much made the cleat stomp famous, this one will go down as one of the most brutal.

Woody Hayes Punches Player

Woody Hayes had a very illustrious career as a coach and a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. Until he punched an opposing player in the throat.

Tonya Harding Puts Out Hit on Nancy Kerrigan

In what is still one of the most criminal and brutal instances of sports violence, Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding had her ex-husband and bodyguard organize an attack on her opponent Nancy Kerrigan. Kerrigan, whose leg was broken, was forced to not compete.

Texas H.S. Football Players Target Ref

In what is probably one of the worst instances of sportsmanship in recent memory, two San Antonio high school football players blindsided a referee twice during a game over disagreement for on a call. Just disgusting.