In response to recent events Ball Control has been wondering which sports can be deemed most felonious. Luckily, as ever, Wikipedia is a treasure trove of information, backed up by trusted sources such as the BBC and, er, Femalemuscle.com.
Amongst all the data on convictions I only pulled out those offences which attracted custodial sentences. Most of the convictions were for current professional sportspeople, though some were retired at the time of their imprisonment. For the purposes of comparison, life imprisonment means 25 years (as per the English jurisdiction). Ball Control accepts the accusation of being an Anglo-centric news hub.
The comparisons between many sports are undermined by the small pool of data each of them has. Any sport with fewer than 10 convictions clearly isn’t trying hard enough to push its protagonists towards a life of crime.
The list is also notable for those who were spared prison sentences. To escape the clink, it would appear that sports prowess would be as helpful as a skilled defence attorney. The likes of Phil “The Power” Taylor (indecent assault), Guus Hiddink (tax fraud) and Patrick Kluivert (death by dangerous driving) all escaped doing porridge while similar crimes resulted in lengthy cell time for lesser-known sporting crims. And let’s not even go near the whole OJ murder charges…
Shining like a macabre light from this already gloomy list is one Leslie George Hylton, a West Indian fast bowler who played in six Test matches between 1935 and 1939. In 1955, he was hanged for the murder of his wife, Lurlene. During his trial, Hylton claimed he had been trying to shoot himself but missed. It’s not known whether she was cowering behind a bathroom door at the time.
|Sport||Famous ne’er-do-wells (and their crimes)||No. of convictions||Average length of custodial sentence (months)|
|Bodybuilding||Bertil Fox (murder), Sally McNeil (second-degree murder), Craig Titus (second-degree murder)||3||553|
|Gridiron||OJ Simpson (robbery, kidnapping), Michael Vick (dog fighting), Darryl Henley (drug trafficking, attempted conspiracy to commit murder)||32||213|
|Boxing||Mike Tyson (rape, road rage), Floyd Mayweather Sr. (drug trafficking), Bernard Hopkins (robbery)||20||207|
|Diving||Bruce Kimball (death by dangerous driving)||1||184|
|Martial Arts||Evangelos Goussis (attempted murder, two counts of murder)||6||140|
|Motorsport||Bertrand Gachot (assault and use of offensive weapon)||40||136|
|Greco-Roman Wrestling||Otari Kvantrishvili (rape)||1||120|
|Baseball||Ugueth Urbina (attempted murder), Darryl Strawberry (drug possession, solicitation of prostitution)||17||120|
|Skateboarding||Mark Rogowski (rape and murder)||5||115|
|Basketball||Allen Iverson (maiming by mob), Tom Payne (rape)||15||70|
|Cricket||Salman Butt (conspiracy to accept corrupt payments), Leslie Hylton (murder), Terry Jenner (embezzlement)||10||62|
|Rugby Union||Tony Neary (fraud)||1||60|
|Athletics (track and field)||Marion Jones (perjury), Tim Montgomery (fraud, drug dist’)||5||52|
|Ice Hockey||Mike Danton (conspiracy to commit murder)||6||43|
|Sumo Wrestling||Futatsuryū Jun’ichi (murder)||2||41|
|Figure Skating||Tonya Harding (DUI)||4||36|
|Snooker||Silvino Francisco (drug smuggling)||1||36|
|Association Football||Graham Rix (underage sex), Lee Hughes (death by dangerous driving), Joey Barton (assault, affray)||45||30|
|Horse Racing||Lester Piggott (tax evasion)||4||30|
|Australian Rules Football||Brett Cooper (drug offences), Neville Linney (burglary)||6||26|
|Tennis||Bernard Boileau (drug use, assault and dangerous driving)||4||21|
|Darts||Chris Mason (ABM, burglary)||2||20|
|Swimming||Nick D’Arcy (assault)||2||9|
|Cycling||Tammy Thomas (perjury), Missy Giove (drug dist’)||2||6|