Sports are usually viewed as fun forms of exercise and entertainment, but it would be hypocritical not to mention that in certain sports, especially in those where there is a high level of competition, accidents can happen, some of them so serious that they can lead to death. Furthermore, there have been times when the Mafia was involved, or the political machine, or violent social groups with hidden agendas that have caused things to go haywire in the sports world. Before we say more and ruin it for you, here are 25 tragic sports related deaths that shocked the world.
Italian-born boxer and world champion in two different weight classes Arturo Gatti was synonymous with toughness and heart mainly because of his epic trilogy of fights against “Irish Micky Ward” (The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg, is dedicated to him). This trilogy is considered one of the toughest and bloodiest in boxing history. Unfortunately the end of Gatti’s life wasn’t as glorious and the former world champ was found dead in Brazil while vacationing there with his Brazilian wife. Did his wife murder him or did the champ commit suicide? The jury is still out on this and many questions have yet to be answered.
Payne Stewart was a prolific golfer and a three-time major championship winner who was extremely popular with spectators for his exciting style of play and fancy clothes. However, in 1999 his career was cut short by an airplane accident that cost him his life a few months after his latest triumph in the U.S. Open.
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. The incredibly massive Big Daddy was particularly known for his signature body slams but when he slammed “King Kong” with his famous Belly Splash, Kirk turned gray and looked severely sick. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where he died moments later. According to the doctor who did the autopsy Kirk had a heart condition, so it wasn’t really Big Daddy’s Belly Splash that killed him, but it definitely triggered it.
Nearly seventy years later Jack Lovelock’s case remains a mystery and still raises more questions than answers. After serving as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, the 1936 1,500-meter Olympic champion was happily living with his wife and their two daughters in New York. On a cold day 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, probably as a result of one of the dizzy spells to which he was subject after an earlier accident, and was killed by an oncoming train. Some people said it was bad luck while others speculated that he committed suicide.
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 when he went into cardiac arrest on the basketball court during an off-season practice session in the summer of 1993. 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.