- Sports can generate feel-good stories showcasing people who have worked all of their lives to achieve something very few ever get close to.
- This is not a list celebrating those stories.
- We’ve rounded up the cheats, the thugs, and the downright annoying athletes that make the world of sport what it is.
- Shout out to all the villains.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
If you like your sports played squeaky clean, then stop here.
But if you live for the chaotic moments from live events and love to watch an athlete attempt to win through apparently wicked means, then this is the list for you.
Before we go any further, we should be really clear about what we mean by the word “villain.”
This is not someone who gets into serious trouble or has legal problems outside of sport, but rather an athlete who attempts to gain success by being a bit mischievous or controversial.
Rather than steroid scandals, lawsuits, and wanton violence away from the game, this means diving or flopping in soccer, underarm serves in tennis, and outlandish statements made by motormouth athletes.
A villain, for us, is someone you love to hate, and someone you want to watch just to root against.
So, without further ado, here are the 15 greatest villains in sport, listed in alphabetical order by name.
Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick are a double act that have been synonymous with success for more than a decade.
Why they’re bad to the bone: They’re unapologetically successful, and that alone is enough to make anyone who isn’t a New England Patriots fan loathe them.
Together, Patriots coach Belichick and quarterback Brady have won six Super Bowl championships and are the key reasons for the New England dynasty in the NFL.
But the apparent means used to get that success has come under scrutiny, with the Los Angeles Times earlier this year calling the Patriots “football’s perfect villain – cheating, haughty, hated.”
Under Belichick’s watch, the Patriots were caught videotaping opponents’ defensive signals in 2007. This became known as “Spygate.”
And if that were not bad enough, there was then “Deflategate,” when the league believed Brady probably knew deflated footballs were going to be used in the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, something that would have given the Pats an advantage during offensive plays.
The whole ordeal inspired a 10-year-old called Ace Davis to create an entire science project about it, as he hoped to conclude that Brady is a cheater.
Dereck Chisora is one of the most unpredictable boxers in the game today.
Why he’s bad to the bone: Where do we start?
Chisora bit Paul Butlin in the middle of their 2009 fight, tried to kiss Carl Baker at a prefight staredown in 2010, and spat water all over Wladimir Klitschko’s face in the middle of the Olympiahalle ring in Munich, Germany just before his lop-sided decision loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2012.
Having lasted to the final bell in an exhausting fight against Klitschko, Chisora confronted David Haye at the post-event press conference. Haye responded by attacking Chisora with a glass bottle.
Chisora is one wild man.
Colby Covington is a “MAGA” hat-wearing cagefighter with a megaphone.
Sport: Mixed martial arts.
Why he’s bad to the bone: If you hate spoilers, don’t ever visit UFC welterweight Colby Covington’s social media pages because he revels in posting as many as he can, just to ruin your day.
He trash talks his haters by calling them “nerds” or “virgins,” and polarized fan opinion when he presented his interim world title to Donald Trump at the White House.
Covington had nothing but good words to say about Trump, telling MMA Junkie after the visit that it was an “out of body experience” because “he was so cool … he likes chicks, wrestling, MMA. He’s just a regular guy.”
Even in the chaotic world of NHL, Sidney Crosby is renowned for being an agitator.
Why he’s bad to the bone: “Sid the kid” is a trophy magnet having attracted back-to-back Winter Olympic gold medals with Canada and three Stanley Cup wins with the Pittsburgh Penguins NHL team.
His passing, leadership, and work ethic separate him from many of his peers, but he’s also a hot head – even by hockey’s standards.
Crosby is someone who slaps his stick between the legs and into the testicles of people who get in his way. Just ask Buffalo Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly who, bizarrely, brushed if off with the words “it happens” as a response to the 2017 incident.
A few nights later, Crosby nearly hacked off the tip of Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot’s finger when he slashed at it with his stick.
Crosby’s villainy is only enhanced as his shocking acts seemingly go unpunished by referees.
Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green seems to love attracting haters.
Why he’s bad to the bone: Draymond Green was suspended for taking a swing at Lebron James’ groin during a 2016 match against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Green, viewed as one of NBA’s most prolific foulers, once said he was not a “dirty” player but later, as the Washington Post pointed out, went on to kick Kyrie Irving.
Green, the loud, brash, raucous forward, is the yin to Golden State Warriors teammate Steph Curry’s cool, calm, point-collecting yang.
Together, they are great. Curry enjoys the love, while Green takes the hate.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the sort of guy to score a goal and tell fans they’re welcome before they even thank him.
Why he’s bad to the bone: Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his arrival to the LA Galaxy with a full-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times. The ad had five words: “Dear Los Angeles, You’re welcome.”
The funny thing is, this isn’t even the most Zlatan thing he’s ever done.
He has “accidentally” kung-fu kicked a goalkeeper in the chest, ahs headbutted his own teammate, and once got sent off for slapping an opponent and trying to con the referee by faking an injury.
Ibrahimovic, unquestionably, has the biggest ego in soccer as he’s a man who frequently compares himself to God. However, he recently let it slip that he has no ego at home as his wife only lets him hang one picture of himself, and it’s not even of his face.
Nick Kyrgios has mastered the art of mangling a racket.
Why he’s bad to the bone: In 2015, Kyrgios was booed by the Wimbledon Championships crowd because he was perceived to be throwing away the match.
When Kyrgios does try, he has an extraordinary box of tricks like underarm serves, tweeners, or just turning around and bending over to present his buttocks to his opponent – all of which he did during his May 14 win over Daniil Medvedev at the Italian Open.
Kyrgios unravelled Medvedev so successfully in Rome that the Russian ended up smashing his racket repeatedly on the floor of the clay court.
However, in the very next match, Kyrgios reverted to type, having fallen apart in a second round disqualification loss to Casper Ruud.
‘If that’s dirty, that’s dirty,’ Manny Machado once said. ‘I don’t know, call it what you want.’
Why he’s bad to the bone: Baseball’s reprobate Manny Machado has channeled the great heels of WWE like The Rock and embraced the role as his sport’s villain.
“I always will be the villain, no matter what,” he told the New York Post earlier this year, though he said he wasn’t exactly sure why.
Last season, however, he stomped on the heel of Steve Pearce, the first baseman for the Boston Red Sox, two years after a wild brawl that was sparked when he was hit by Yordano Ventura’s pitch, then stormed to the mound to throw hands like it was the Royal Rumble.
It was not long before everyone from the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles benches joined in, with all hell breaking loose.
Marc Marquez’s aggressive tactics angered a rival who once accused him of “destroying” the sport.
Why he’s bad to the bone: A seven-time MotoGP world champion, Marquez is one of the most successful racers ever. And as he’s still only 26 years old, he’ll have plenty left in the gas tank to potentially add to that haul in the seasons ahead.
But during his time on the track, he has riled his rivals – particularly Valentino Rossi, another of the sport’s true greats.
At the Argentina Grand Prix last year, Marquez chased down Rossi and attempted an aggressive maneuver, making contact with the Italian.
Rossi fell while Marquez stayed upright. He was reprimanded with a 30-second penalty and later accused by an apoplectic Rossi of destroying MotoGP.
Jose Mourinho is one of the most polarizing characters in sport.
Why he’s bad to the bone: The wildly decorated soccer boss has long been revered for his Machiavellian ways.
In 2005, he was slapped with a two-match UEFA Champions League ban during his first stint as the manager of Chelsea FC. This meant he had to avoid his players. But never one to take rules and regulations seriously, Mourinho arrived at the locker room early, gave his team talk, then hid in a laundry basket and instructed his kit man to wheel him past oblivious UEFA officials.
Over the years, not much has changed. When he was Real Madrid manager he made whiffy gestures at FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and even poked Tito Vilanova in the eye.
After he returned to Chelsea, in 2014, he engineered a rivalry with the Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger by calling him a “specialist in failure.”
And, when he was employed by Manchester United more recently, he angered the former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte so much that the Italian challenged him to a fight.
Luis Suarez bites, then clasps his teeth like he’s the one who’s hurt.
Why he’s bad to the bone: One of the most joyfully gifted strikers in world soccer over the last 10 years also happens to be a prolific biter.
This alone is enough to attract villain status but he also flops, dives, and feigns injury.
Oh, and he also purposefully cleared the ball away from the goalline with his hands during a 2010 FIFA World Cup match, denying Ghana what would have been a critical goal – a winner – that would have dumped Uruguay out of the tournament.
Suarez was sent off but loitered around the tunnel as he awaited the fate of the resulting penalty he had conceded. Ghana missed the penalty and he celebrated wildly, attracting further condemnation. The match went to a penalty shootout, which Uruguay won.
Liz Patu is the Luis Suarez of Australian rugby.
Why she’s bad to the bone: Wallaroos captain Liz Patu summoned her inner Luis Suarez and clamped her jaw down on Rebecca Clough’s flesh during a Super W club match between Queensland and Rugby WA earlier this year.
“She bit me!” Clough is reported to have said at the time, according to The Guardian. Clough informed the match referee, and swore while telling Patu to not bite her again.
Patu was slapped with a six week ban, ending her season.
Infamous soccer player Sergio Ramos laughs in the face of the red cards he collects.
Why he’s bad to the bone: One of the greatest villains on YouTube is the cat who pushed another cat down the stairs.
We’re not saying Real Madrid defender Ramos is that evil cat, but because he’s the most indisciplined athlete in La Liga history (154 yellow cards and 19 reds) and the most carded player in Champions League history (37 yellows and three reds), he’s actually far worse.
Patrick Reed is reportedly not too popular on the PGA tour, but this golfer likely won’t care.
Why he’s bad to the bone: He just seems to rub people the wrong way.
“There is no doubting the ability of Patrick as a golfer, it was Patrick as a person that we chose not to associate with,” an assistant golf coach from the University of Georgia said of a younger Reed, according to Golf.com.
When Reed was playing golf at college he was apparently abrasive, a cheat, and a thief, though these are all things he denies.
As a pro, has used a homophobic slur, shushed the crowd, and has ordered camera crews on the course to move away from him.
Last year, he appeared to isolate himself when he was critical of his US Ryder Cup teammates and coach. A stark contrast to the camaderie the European team showed on a daily basis.
A former judoka and mixed martial artist turned professional wrestler, nobody attracts jeers quite like “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey.
- WWE / YouTube
Sport: Professional wrestling / sports entertainment.
Why she’s bad to the bone: Ronda Rousey has been successful in many careers. She won a bronze medal in judo at the 2008 Olympic Games, was crowned Strikeforce and UFC bantamweight world champion in mixed martial arts, and went on to lift the Raw women’s championship in WWE.
At WWE, she has also ruffled feathers. In January 2018, WWE said it suspended Rousey for 30 days after she “attacked” her WWE mentor with a briefcase on live TV.
She “blew the roof off the joint” in her first ever wrestling match a matter of months later, and won her first WWE title when she dropped SummerSlam opponent Alexa Bliss on her neck in August.