15 Shocking Sports Deaths

By  |

Sports are usually viewed as fun forms of exercise and entertainment. Sporting events are suppose to be a way for people to take a break out of their daily routine and enjoy life. Sports are competitive and injuries may occur, that is a normal part of the game. Death, however, is not. There have been some cases in the sports world where things have gone horribly wrong. Different reasons cause these incidents to happen. It can be due to political turmoil, a strong rivalry that gets out of hand, or health reasons. Either way a death in a sporting event is always unfortunate and shocking. Here are 15 sports related deaths.

Arturo Gatti  Italian-born boxer and world champion in two different weight classes Arturo Gatti was synonymous with toughness and heart in the ring. He is most famous for his epic trilogy of fights against “Irish Micky Ward.” This trilogy is considered one of the toughest and bloodiest in boxing history. Unfortunately the end of Gatti’s life wasn’t as glorious. The former world champ was found dead in Brazil while vacationing there with his Brazilian wife. It is still unknown if his wife murdered him of if he committed suicide.

The Le Mans Disaster The 1955 Le Mans disaster is the deadliest, most tragic accident that ever occurred in motorsport history. 49-year-old driver Pierre Levegh, was involved in a crash that caused large fragments of racing car debris to fly into the crowd, killing 83 spectators and Levegh. An estimated 120 more were injured. According to the reports, the hood of the car decapitated spectators like a guillotine blade.

Malcolm “King Kong” Kirk Malcolm “King Kong” Kirk and his partner, King Kendo, were in a tag-team match with Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree and Greg Valentine when one of the most tragic events in professional wrestling’s history occurred. Crabtree was called Big Daddy for his massive size and was particularly known for his signature body slams where he crashes all his wieght on top of his opponent. When he slammed Malcolm “King Kong” Kirk with his famous Belly Splash, Kirk turned gray and looked severely sick. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where he died moments later. The doctor who did the autopsy revealed Kirk had a heart condition that killed him, but it was triggered by the Belly Splash from Big Daddy.

Jack Lovelock  The death of Jack Lovelock is still a mystery and one of the most mysterious sports related deaths to date. After serving as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, the 1936 Olympic champion was happily living with his wife and their two daughters in New York. In December 1949, he called his wife from work to let her know that he would be home early because he was not feeling well. As he was waiting for the train at the Church Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, he fell onto the tracks and was killed by an oncoming train. Some people said it was bad luck while others speculated that he committed suicide.

Reggie Lewis  Only a few years after Len Bias’s unfortunate end, Reggie Lewis, another Boston Celtics star, added his name to the long list of athletes who died in their prime. In 1993, while at a practice session during the off season Lewis went into cardiac arrest on the basketball court. Lewis had shown symptoms of a heart problem a few months before the fatal incident, but after a few monthly treatments he was wrongfully cleared to train and play again.

Michael Hogan  November 21, 1920, is remembered as “Bloody Sunday” in Ireland and for a good reason. That afternoon a soccer match between Dublin and Tipperary was being played at Croke Park. Thanks to a heavy political backdrop things got extremely and unnecessarily violent. The Black and Tans of the Royal Irish Constabulary, opened fire with their machine guns and rifles on the crowd. Twelve spectators were killed, another sixty injured, and one Tipperary player shot dead. The player, Michael Hogan, age twenty-four, became the victim of one of the worst sporting massacres in history.

Lightning Kills Entire Soccer Team Mother nature is truly unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous. In 1999, a single stroke of lightning instantly killed an entire soccer team. The eleven players were all between the ages of 20 and 25. The freak accident happened during a match held in the eastern province of Kasai, Congo. The strangest fact of the accident was that the players from the home team came out of this tragedy unharmed.

The Heysel Disaster The 1985 European Cup final between Juventus, Italy and Liverpool, England was held at Heysel Stadium in Brussels on May 29, 1985. On this day The Heysel disaster happened. Approximately 1 hour before the Juventus-Liverpool final was due to kick off, a large group of Liverpool fans breached a fence separating them from a “neutral area” which contained mostly Juventus fans. Juventus fans ran back on the terraces and away from the threat into a concrete retaining wall crushing other fans and eventually breaking the wall. This led to the deaths of 39 supporters, six hundred injured, and a five year ban of English clubs from European competition.

Raymond Chapman  Raymond Chapman was the shortstop for the Cleveland Indians and is the reason why baseball players wear helmets when they’re at bat. In 1920, during a game against the Yankees pitcher Carl Mays threw a pitch that hit Chapman square in the head. Chapman died a few hours after he was hit. He became the first and only MLB player to-date to die from an injury that occurred during a major league game.

Lima Soccer Riot of ’64 Soccer matches are known for having some of the most unruly fans in the sports world. There have been many riots at soccer matches but the Lima soccer riot in 1964 may be one of the worst. On May 24, 1964, an incredibly important game was taking place in Lima, Peru’s Estadio Nacional. Argentina was playing Peru in a qualifier that would see the winner go to the Tokyo Olympic Games. Argentina was winning 1 to 0 and when Peru finally scored. The Uruguayan referee, Angel Pazos, didn’t count the goal causing the Peruvian crowd to react violently. This reaction ended up being the deadliest riot in soccer history and resulted in the deaths of more than three hundred people and saw as many as five hundred injured.

The Munich Massacre The Munich massacre will always be remembered as the darkest moment in the history of the Olympics. During the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and eventually murdered, along with a German police officer, by a Palestinian terrorist group named Black September. German police officers killed five of the eight Black September members as well. The Olympics which is the most significant sporting event in the world that celebrates the union of all peoples and nations across the globe, was tarnished that year.

Joaquim Agostinho Agostinho was one of the most decorated Portuguese bicycle racers of his time and a six-time national champion. He took part in many major international races, including the Tour de France, in which he competed 13 times. Unfortunately for him and the world of professional cycling, Agostinho became the victim of one of the most ironic tragedies in the sport’s history. At Quarteira, during the 1984 Tour of the Algarve, Agostinho was leading the pack when a dog ran into the race a few hundred meters before the finish line. Agostinho hit it and fell to the ground injuring his head. He went into a coma a few hours later from which he never emerged.

Andres Escobar  During the 1994 World Cup Andrés Escobar scored on his own goal against the USA, and lost the game for Columbia ending their World Cup run. When Escobar arrived home he was murdered outside a nightclub by two men who argued with him about his mistake in that game. One of the murderers was a member of a powerful Colombian cartel, which made many people believe that Escobar’s murder might have been a bit more mysterious than some originally thought.

Marc-Vivien Foe The death of Marc-Vivien Foe is due to a health condition that had gone undetected. In the 73rd minute of the 2003 Confederations Cup semi-final match between Cameroon and France at Lyon’s Stade de Gerland, Foé was innocently jogging along. Nobody on the field or in the crowd could understand how critical his condition was when he suddenly collapsed on the ground in the center circle. Medical and support staff attempted to resuscitate him on the field but could not. He was carried off the field on a stretcher to the bottom of the stadium where he died after doctors could not restart his heart.

Ayrton Senna  One of the greatest and most impressive racers in the history of auto sports, Brazilian superstar Ayrton Senna, was killed in an accident 20-years ago while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. Senne complained about his cars handling and how its performance was even worst than before the engineers made adjustments. On lap seven of the race Senna’s car left the racing line at around 191 mph, ran in a straight line off the track, and hit the concrete retaining wall at around 145 mph. He died instantly.