Trash talk is commonplace in sports these days. Many athletes use it to sell events and/or drive up hype, and it often works. It regularly features in combat sports because fighters want to find a mental advantage over their opponents. Meanwhile, in sports like football and basketball, it can fire up opponents or put them off their games.
However, there’s a fine line between keeping it good-natured and going too far. So today, we’re going to take a look at 20 different athletes who made fans shake their heads because they went too far. Perhaps they spoke about their opponent’s family or they were just crude. Check out the list below via FOX Sports and Men’s Journal.
20. Tyson Fury
Fury is one of the most polarizing figures in combat sports. On the one hand, there’s no doubting his ability. Many think that he is the best active heavyweight because of his sublime movement and skills. He is also remarkably articulate. But Fury’s mouth has landed him in hot water at various points of his career. The Brit used heavyweight slurs on occasion and went too far.
He targeted his opponent David Price and called Tony Bellew his ‘gay lover.’ This effectively ruled him out of contention for the coveted BBC Sports Star of the Year award. Fury is capable of being very cerebral but sometimes he doesn’t think at all. As a result, many people despite him but others love him. There’s no denying that he is a massive box draw office regardless of opinion.
A Super Bowl-winning safety with the Kansas City Chiefs, Mathieu is a great player. Nicknamed the ‘Honey Badger,’ he is one of the best players in the NFL at his position. However, he made a fatal mistake in Super Bowl LV. The Chiefs met the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2021 showpiece game when he decided to trash talk Tom Brady. Ultimately Brady made him pay for his words.
During the game, Brady made a point of chasing Mathieu down and confronted his opponent. Their teammates separated them but it was an exciting moment. This helped to intensify the fire inside Brady on his way to an MVP performance. The Bucs blew the Chiefs out of the water with a dominant display. In the end, Brady was a clear winner and Mathieu had egg on his face.
Wilder is one of the scariest boxers in the world. The Alabama native has frightening knockout power and almost all of his wins have come by way of KO. In 2019, he attracted criticism before his fight against Dominic Breazeale. This was because he said that he wanted to kill his opponent. “This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time,” Wilder said. “It’s legal. So why not use my right to do so?”
Many combat sports athletes condemned Wilder for these words. Boxing is a sport with many recorded deaths. Obviously, boxers receive a lot of head trauma and people have suffered because of this. Others suffer after retiring from the sport and live with dementia. To sum up, Wilder’s comments were in extremely poor taste. Every man steps into a ring knowing that their life is at stake.
Mayweather was obviously no stranger to trash talk throughout his boxing career. The legendary fighter was one of the greatest of his generation but he wasn’t afraid to use his words as well. He has an ongoing war of words with UFC fighter Conor McGregor. But his success enabled him to target all of his opponents. However, sometimes Mayweather says some unfortunate things.
He has frequently dropped homophobic slurs about some of his rivals. This is never a good look in the 21st century. But the worst was in 2010 before his fight against Manny Pacquaio. “Once I stomp the midget, I’mma make that motherf***er make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice,” Mayweather told the media. “You know how it is baby, we gonna cook that motherf***er with some cats and dogs.”
Odell Beckham Jr. is often a volatile figure. Norman was playing for the Carolina Panthers when his they played Beckham’s New York Giants. He knew that the talented receiver took trash talk to heart so Norman went all out. They went as far as branding baseball bats in their practice warm-up to get in Beckham’s head. But Norman was on a one-man mission to antagonize the star receiver.
His mission was a success and he tormented Beckham throughout their game. Eventually, it all boiled over and Beckham hit Norman in the head. He suffered a one-game ban for the attack but he probably didn’t care. Meanwhile, Norman received criticism because there were allegations of gay slurs throughout the game. It was unpleasant but gamesmanship is a part of football.
In 2011, a Sports Illustrated poll voted Pierzynski the meanest player in Major League Baseball. The former White Sox catcher was a force of nature and made life difficult for everybody he encountered. Back in 2006, the Cubs’ Michael Barrett punched Pierzynski because he didn’t like him. It was a feeling that many people shared because he was so high maintenance. In short, he never shut up.
Trash talk was second nature to Pierzynski when he stood behind the plate. He agitated hitters like an older brother bullying his younger siblings. It was as though he took joy from the constant needling and antagonism. As a two-time All-Star and a World Series champion, Pierzynski’s tactics worked for him. But there’s no doubt it didn’t endear him to many people.
“Like my boy tells me,” Owens told Playboy. ” ‘If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat.” In 2004, the wide receiver spoke to the notorious men’s magazine and questioned Jeff Garcia’s sexuality. Their relationship was already fraught because Owens was a nightmare to deal with. But this crossed the line and guaranteed they would never become friends.
Owens was notorious for his trash talk and many of his own teammates felt the brunt of it. In particular, he targeted his own quarterbacks. As well as Garcia, Owens also made life difficult for Donavon McNabb amongst others. While he was an electric player in his day, Owens was a terrible teammate. But people forget these things because of his amazing legacy.
Saunders is one of Britain’s most skilled boxers but that doesn’t mean he’s a good person. Many boxing fans dislike him because of the way he speaks about otherse. Saunders doesn’t have a filter and regularly makes tasteless comments. Some of the worst came when he insulted boxing legend, Barry McGuigan. He went after the Irishman’s daughter who tragically died of cancer.
Meanwhile, Saunders brings up race in unpleasant ways and is an appalling misogynist. He mocked Canelo Alvarez for his lack of English proficiency. But then Canelo broke Saunders’ orbital in their fight so it ended well for the Mexican. It appears as though Saunders’ mouth works a lot faster than his brain. Unfortunately, this has gotten him into a lot of trouble throughout his career.
Rivers retired in 2021 after a distinguished NFL career. Over the course of his 17 seasons in the league, he built up a reputation as one of the biggest trash talkers in the game. People didn’t always like him because he was so loud on the field. It’s not that they thought that he went too far in terms of what he said, but rather that his trash talk was incessant. Just ask Chris Harris Jr.
The Chargers played Harris’s Broncos in 2019. Harris revealed that Rivers was relentless as he unleashed a barrage of trash talk. It was all good-natured but didn’t stop. Some people thought that Rivers’ Southern persona was too much. They disliked his penchant for big buckled belts and cowboy hats. But that was why others loved the long-serving quarterback.
In 2021, Butler’s Suns faced off against the Minnesota Timberwolves. This brought him back onto the same court as his former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns. However, things heated up between the two men and culminated with a toxic showdown. Fans know that Butler isn’t afraid to dish out some trash talk. But he went a bit too far with his words to Towns.
Things became ugly after Butler called Towns ‘soft’ and said some other things that just weren’t kind. Meanwhile, this was directly after Towns lost seven family members to the global health crisis including his mother. Towns obviously wasn’t soft and it was remarkable that he had the conviction to play the season. Many fans thought Butler was tasteless because of his comments.
With ‘Chaos’ as his nickname, Covington has a lot to live up to. Hailing from Clovis, California, Covington is a former UFC interim welterweight champion. However, he attracts a lot of negative headlines because of his controversial trash talk. He rose to infamy after labeling the people of Brazil as ‘animals.’ The UFC promised never to book him there again because the risk to his safety was too great.
Covington maintains a fictional personality because he wants to sell fights. Furthermore, many people sneer at his persona because they know it’s fake. He put Kamaru Usman under a verbal barrage but it ended badly for him. In the end, the current champ broke Covington’s jaw and forced him to stay quiet. He rebounded and continues to trash talk like it’s going out of fashion.
A three-time NBA Champion, Green has enjoyed incredible success with the Golden State Warriors. The power forward is a three-time All-Star and a fan favorite. Meanwhile, he also runs his mouth like Usain Bolt runs races. Green loves to trash talk and many of his opponents experienced it. He even had to audacity to trash LeBron James. Yes, he targeted the greatest player of the generation.
In 2016, Green’s Warriors played LeBron’s Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. During Game Four, James confronted Green because the latter went too far. First of all, he allegedly called James a b*tch multiple times. But he also went further and explicitly insulted his manhood. Green received a suspension but the worst part was that his team threw the series away.
Bisping was the first British champion in UFC history. The Englishman had a nomadic road to the top. He didn’t fight for the title until he was 38 because he always seemed to fall short at the wrong time. Finally, he knocked out Luke Rockhold on short notice to claim the belt. This piqued George St-Pierre’s interest. The Canadian legend announced his comeback because he wanted to fight for a second title.
There was a lot of trash talk at the press conferences because Bisping couldn’t stay quiet. He labeled GSP an ‘alien’ and effectively called him a coward. But all of this came back to bite ‘The Count.’ This was because St-Pierre choked him unconscious and took his middleweight title. In the end, the pair made up after the fight and GSP even featured on Bisping’s podcast.
Garnett was one of the most ruthless trash talkers in NBA history. The 15-time All-Star was undoubtedly a brilliant player. He starred for both the Timberwolves and the Celtics in a Championship-winning career. But as well as his prowess on the court, Garnett had the gift of gab. He literally made opponents cry with his words. But one time he went too far.
In 2010, Garnett went up against the Detroit Pistons. That’s when he had an unpleasant encounter with Charlie Villaneuva. He left the Dominican outraged after he called him a ‘Cancer patient.’ In short, Villaneuva had a condition that caused hair loss and the cancer comments disgusted him. Trash talk is fine but Garnett crossed the line this time.
It feels almost heretic to put Paul on a list of sports stars. But the reality is that he does have professional boxing matches under his belt. He also loves to dish out trash talk. It doesn’t appear like Paul is self-aware but he is very conscious of how he speaks. Everything he says is designed to annoy regular combat sports fans and fighters. However, sometimes his attention-seeking does go too far.
A case in point was his desperate attempt to rile Conor McGregor in 2021. He recognized the Irishman represented his most lucrative possible match-up. He targeted McGregor’s long-term girlfriend on Twitter but “The Notorious” didn’t acknowledge his existence. Then, he went to McGregor’s trilogy fight against Dustin Poirier with a figurine of the KO’d Irishman around his neck. In sum, it was embarrassing.
The Seattle Supersonics guard was one of very few who had success against Michael Jordan. He also had one of the biggest mouths in the game. Everybody was vulnerable when he was on the court because he didn’t hold back. For example, he once told Minnesota head coach Sidney Lowe to ‘sit down you smurf.’ Usually, Payton’s smack was a product of his personality and good-natured.
But sometimes it went too far and rubbed people up the wrong way. In 1996, his own teammate Ricky Pierce felt the full brunt of his wrath. Payton annoyed him and the pair began to argue. Then, it culminated with Payton threatening to take a gun and kill Pierce’s family. There is a fine line between trash talk and just being a nasty human. However, Payton crossed it that time.
Sonnen is another fighter who loved to smack talk but never quite backed it up. ‘The American Gangster’ was a master of hyping up his fights. His war of words with Anderson Silva was iconic and made him a hate figure in Brazil. In the end, he bit off more than he could chew. In his first match against ‘The Spider,’ Sonnen dominated for five rounds before Silva submitted him about a minute.
Another fighter who felt Sonnen’s wrath was Tito Ortiz. Sonnen occasionally took his trash talk too far and targeted the former UFC champion’s wife. Jenna Jameson was one of the most popular porn stars of the era and Sonnen took full advantage of this. We won’t quote what he said because it’s not family-friendly. But it left Ortiz speechless because it was so extreme.
If somebody is excellent at their sport, they have some right to be arrogant. Jordan earned this through his consistent magnificence for the Chicago Bulls. The franchise and Jordan were synonymous with brilliance throughout the ’90s. Jordan had an aura on the court and cast fear into the hearts of many of his opponents. He also knew that he was better than them.
Trash talk is rife throughout the NBA but Jordan backed it up. He infamously shut down the Grizzlies’ Darrick Martin, who ironically tried to trash-talk him. The Bulls legend replied,” I told you about trash-talking me.” Then, he scored nine unanswered points to snatch the game from the brink of defeat. Nothing affected him because he was in a class above.
Ali was one of the sports world’s most iconic trash-talkers. The legendary boxer changed the world inside and outside the ring. First of all, there were his incredible skills. Ali was a master of movement before he adapted his rope-a-dope style. Then, there was his personality. This rubbed many of his opponents up the wrong way. Joe Frazier loathed Ali and had nothing good to say about him after he died.
Considering Ali called Frazier an ‘Uncle Tom,’ that’s probably not that surprising. Furthermore, he also hyped up his own abilities. For example, we all know how he ‘moved like a butterfly and stung like a bee.’ He also called himself the ‘greatest thing that ever lived.” Ali created a template that many combat sports athletes continue to follow. This includes the next man on this list.
Nobody trash talks in the fight game like McGregor. The Irishman has no filter and doesn’t hold back. In fact, part of his rise to fame was off the back of his ability on the mic. He ruined many of his opponents mentally before they even stepped into the cage. The Irishman spent six months antagonizing Jose Aldo. It was so bad that the Brazilian was unfocused and lost in just 14 seconds.
However, McGregor also suffers from a distinct lack of class. Sometimes he goes too far and targets members of his opponent’s family. For example, he told Khabib Nurmagamedov that his wife was a ‘goat under a teatowel.’ As a Muslim, this was deeply offensive. Meanwhile, he also targeted Dustin Poirier’s wife before he suffered a second loss to the Louisiana native in at UFC 264.