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Every sportsperson has suffered an injury at some point in their careers. But some injuries are much more gruesome than others and, unfortunately, those graphic incidents are often televised for the world to watch on in horror…
When we sit down to watch our favourite sports, we’re doing so for the drama, the entertainment and the spectacle. It’s unlikely, however, that we’re doing so to witness horrific injuries of every description in real time.
Unfortunately, as is the nature of sports, there’s always a risk that someone is going to get injured, and we might just be unlucky enough to be watching along when they happen.
Here, we’ve put together a list of eight of the worst televised sports injuries that we really wish we hadn’t seen – reader discretion is advised!
8 of the Worst Televised Sports Injuries We Want to Forget
1. Mike Tyson Biting Evander Holyfield’s Ear
In one of the most infamous and downright bizarre fights in boxing history, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield faced off against one another in 1997 in a rematch of their WBA Heavyweight championship fight.
After a bruising opening few rounds, the third ended when Tyson emerged from a clinch with a one-inch chunk of Holyfield’s ear in his mouth. Yes, his mouth.
After unceremoniously spitting the piece of ear onto the floor of the ring (charming), a short investigation took place before the fight resumed. Incredibly, Tyson then bit Holyfield’s other ear before the fight was stopped.
2. Samir Ait Said Breaks Tibia and Fibula
Such is the standard of gymnastics we’re used to watching at the Olympics, it’s very rare that we see anything go dramatically wrong. In fact, if anything, the most we tend to see is someone losing their balance or failing to stick the landing on a tricky somersault.
That wasn’t the case at Rio 2016. Samir Ait Said, a European Championship gold medallist, suffered a catastrophic leg break during France’s qualification for the men’s team competition. Landing awkwardly from a vault, Said’s tibia and fibulas shattered on impact, leaving his foot and the bottom part of his shin dangling away from the rest of his leg.
The cameras weren’t able to cut away from the injury quickly enough, with the sound of the crack and his scream of anguish leaving a lasting impression on anyone watching. Quite remarkably, the injury didn’t spell the end for Said’s career, and he recently acted as the flag bearer for France at Tokyo 2020.
3. Clint Malarchuk’s Sliced Jugular
The true stuff of nightmares this one. Ice hockey is an inherently dangerous, what with all the razor-sharp blades and what have you, but this really does take things to a whole other level.
In 1989, Canadian goaltender Clint Malarchuk was left fighting for his life when a player’s skate made contact with his neck, slicing his carotid artery and partially slicing his jugular vein.
What followed was something akin to a horror film, as Malarchuk suffered immediate and massive blood loss all over the ice rink – 1.5 litres to be exact. Amazingly, he not only survived the incident, but he remained a professional player for a further few years.
4. Kevin Ware’s Open Leg Fracture
Leg breaks and fractures are bad – that much everyone can agree on. But what’s worse than a leg fracture? An open leg fracture, that’s what.
In a 2013 Elite 8 basketball game between Louisville Cardinals and the Duke Blue Devils, Point Guard Kevin Ware attempted to block a pass before getting all out of sorts upon landing.
And by ‘all out of sorts’, we mean ‘his tibia bone popped out of his leg’. It was as gnarly as it sounds and left everybody in the stadium, including his teammates, visibly shaken.
His first response? Shouting “I’m fine, just win the game”. What a trooper.
5. Akil Mitchell Dislodges Eyeball
Sticking with basketball and a different injury altogether. Eye injuries aren’t all that common, but they have the potential to be devastating if someone is unlucky enough to find themselves on the wrong end of a stray finger or piece of equipment.
Akil Mitchell, playing for the New Zealand Breakers at the time, probably knows that all too well. The finger of an opposing player accidentally ended up dislodging his eyeball. Ew.
“With the palm of my hand I felt my eyeball on the side of my face,” he told New Zealand’s Radio Sport. “I could still see out of the eye.” That’s probably all the information we need.
6. Ryan Mason Retires After Fractured Skull
Going after footballers for faking injuries is low-hanging fruit at this point, because it’s pretty well established that plenty of them can be, let’s say, sensitive. But, there have been some genuinely sickening injuries over the years.
Ryan Mason, a recent signing for English Premier League side Hull City, had his career cut short in 2017 after a sickening clash of heads with an opposition player. He was left in a crumpled heap on the ground for over 10 minutes, before being taken off the field of play on a stretcher and wearing an oxygen mask.
Mason spent eight days in hospital after undergoing surgery for a fractured skull, leaving him with 14 metal plates, held together by 28 screws and 45 staples.
7. Joanna Jedrzejczyk Suffers Horrific Hematoma
UFC fighters are a different breed altogether, that much is apparent. But this particular injury really stood to demonstrate just how dangerous and unavoidably brutal the sport can be.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk suffered a painful defeat to Weili Zhang in 2020 in more ways than one, being left with a catastrophic looking hematoma on her face (a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel). By the end of the fight, she was barely recognisable.
Miraculously, the swelling healed within two days, along with the substantial bruising two weeks after that, leaving the Polish fighter with no permanent injuries.
8. Hadyn Peacock Has His Penis Partially Torn Off
This one is as self-explanatory as it is ghastly. In 2016, Australian rugby league player Hadyn Peacock’s, ahem, privates, were almost torn completely off during a tackle.
Peacock’s response? “When we played UTC the other week their centre pretty much ripped my **** off…Have you seen the photo? It’s a classic. They put it on the front page of the paper.” Nothing more really needs to be said, does it?
Are There Any More Televised Sports Injuries You’re Doing Your Best to Forget?
So, there we have it! Hopefully these injuries haven’t put you off your dinner, as none of them are what we would describe as pleasant.
Are there any other televised sports injuries which you would rather forget? If there are, feel free to leave them in the comments below – if you want to relive them that is!