most controversial athletes

Who Are the Top 7 Most Controversial Athletes of All Time?

Controversies have always held a very prominent place in society. Be it politics, religion, or industries, controversies are a part of everything. Just like that, there are some most controversial athletes of all time in the history of sports too.  

Some athletes became a target of controversies due to their attitudes while some never seemed to have stayed out of the trouble of law. Another reason for unlimited controversies is the media and the way it spreads the news. Several athletes have been targeted based on false scandals. 

Here is the list of the top 7 athletes who have been the most controversial throughout. Keep on reading to find out more about it. 

7. Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds is said to be the greatest baseball player ever existed. But this title was taken from him due to his steroid scandals that became a reason for his controversy. He is also one of the disgraced sports figures due to a couple of reasons. The New Yorker described Bond as unapologetic and defensive for some of his wrong deeds. 

He also took an oath about his steroid use and was accused of lying due to which he was sentenced to trial by the court. This got him into huge trouble and fans called him a villain of the steroid era of Major League Baseball. He has achieved many awards and set massive records throughout his career but sadly all these have been tainted forever. 

6. Michael Vick

Michael Vick, a former Atlanta Falcons quarterback is also one of the most controversial athletes of all time. He got into a dogfighting scandal which led him to 23 months in prison due to unethical crimes he committed against the dogs for the sake of money. He involved himself in the execution of dogs which often didn’t go well.  

Besides that, he used to drown the dogs, gave them electric shocks, and did everything he could do to kill them just to take his frustration of losing a fight out. All these acts sounded much more like a horror movie scene. He served 21 months in prison and two under house arrest and then signed to the Philadelphia Eagles as a quarterback. 

5. Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding is an Olympic Figure Skater and one of the most controversial players in sports. She has pleaded guilty to attacking her competitor, Nancy Kerrigan. She planned to break her leg so that she could not participate in the US Championship in 1994.  

She took her ex-husband’s and guard’s help to get Kerrigan out of her way. Kerrigan was attacked on the thigh. But she didn’t give up and made it to the US Championship and earned a silver medal. Harding was shamed for life and all her titles were taken away due to her hideous act. 

4. Dennis Rodman

Next on the list, I have Dennis Rodman who is a retired professional basketball player in the American Hall of Fame. He is said to be one of the craziest athletes ever and is mostly known for his controversies and behavior than his basketball career.  

It might sound funny to you but one of his controversies was wearing a white wedding dress to the court just to promote a book. Others were about his attitudes like quarreling with referees and teammates and changing his hair color every day. 

3. Mike Tyson

Retired American professional boxer, Mike Tyson is also one of the most controversial athletes of all time. He was the youngest boxer to win the WBC, WBA, and IBF heavyweight titles just at the age of 20. One of his most infamous controversies was biting the ear off his opponent and then talking about ripping his heart out.  

These controversies started getting more attention when he claimed publicly that he wants to kill people and rip out their stomachs and eat their children. His wild claims and unapologetic behavior made him controversial to the point that he could not make it back to the ring. 

2. Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is a very famous road race cyclist who earned many people’s love through his tremendous performance in Tour De France. He earned the huge respect of people for sharing his personal story of testicular cancer and then fought as an activist to find the cure for cancer. 

But some of his followers got extremely disappointed after finding out that he had used steroids for better performances. He also got banned from sports due to this scandal. After this, all his titles were taken away from him including the honor of the head of Livestrong Foundation. He stands second on the list of controversial athletes of all time.  

1. Ty Cobb

Last but not least, I have Ty Cobb on the list who was an American Major League Baseball outfielder. He has almost set 90 records in the Major League throughout his entire career. He has been a victim of controversies due to his evil behavior and attitude.  

He tainted his career due to his bad temper. He not only broke records in MLB but also argued with everyone without any reason. He would get into violent fights and his addiction to drinking was a cherry on top and enough to make him stand first on the list of controversial athletes. 


Controversies are given a huge amount of importance in society. Some controversies are made due to false accusations while some are overly hyped for no good reason. I hope you enjoyed reading this article about the most controversial athletes of all time.  

Please leave your remarks below. Thank you!


Muhammad Ali is said to be the most controversial athlete in history. He is not only controversial due to sports but also due to his involvement in matters of the US Government. He would speak out loud about the things that the government would do and were considered wrong deeds.

Diego Maradona, one of the greatest football players is said to be the most controversial football player. A 37-year-old woman accused the late Diego of holding her against her will and being violent with her.

There are the most controversial basketball players in the history of the NBA include Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and Magic Johnson. But out of all these Dennis Rodman is said to be the most controversial of all.

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