The 4 Most Spectacular Mental Breakdowns in Sports History

#2. Angel Matos -- Taekwondo

Unlike the drawn out collapse of Martina Hingis, Cuban taekwondo fighter, Angel Matos had one of the fastest meltdowns in sports history. In 2008 he was competing in his third Summer Olympics when he suffered an injury to his foot during a fight for the bronze medal. The Olympic rule for any injury in a taekwondo match is that the athlete only has a brief window of time to stop the bleeding, put his leg back on, etc. or else he is disqualified. Matos had broken a toe and couldn't treat it in the allotted time so judge called the match. Perhaps because of a language barrier between Matos and the Swedish judge, he didn't understand the rules and was immediately furious when he found out he just lost a match he was winning only seconds earlier. In response Matos tried to explain as well as he could that his toe wasn't a problem, using the universal language of kicking the judge in the face.

"See, it's fine."

Logically speaking, it was the best proof he could have provided that his foot was completely functional, so Matos was understandably surprised when the judge was still unwilling to retract his call. Slipping further and further into a meltdown of frustration, Matos threatened the judge a few times which was confusing for everyone since people usually have better success putting the threat of physical violence before the act. He finished it all off by pushing another judge in the chest and then spitting on the floor of the stadium. The meltdown not only cost him the chance to appeal the decision, it also earned him a lifetime ban from ever competing again.

#1. John Bourke -- Australian Football

If you're unfamiliar with Australian football, it's a sport played on a cricket field that's basically a mixture of equal parts soccer, rugby and complete pandemonium. The staggering number of fights suggests it also relies on elements of mixed martial arts. In fact, fighting is so common and accepted that play just continues on around them. It takes an all-out team brawl where lives are in danger for the game to stop, or it takes one man like John Bourke.

While playing for Collingwood in 1985, Bourke was getting frustrated by cheap shots from a Sydney player and finally lashed out by tripping him. The field umpire rushed over to penalize Bourke, and inadvertently triggered a meltdown so massive that it's remembered as one of the most embarrassing moments for Australian football.

John Bourke may have been the first athlete in history to make such a concerted effort to fight every last person in a stadium. He started by throwing the field ump to the ground and pushed a few more umpires for good measure. Then, while wandering around looking for more people to hit, the Collingwood runner came to collect Bourke and pull him off the field. As they trotted off Bourke thought, "Well, as long as I'm hitting people," and punched his teammate as well. Finally, in an act of unwavering diligence to fucking up everyone he sees, Bourke leaped over the guardrails into the stands to knockout a fan too.

The only thing more remarkable than his one-man riot of unfocused hatred is the way the announcers try to downplay the situation. They continually refer to him as "boy" and talk about Bourke "whacking" the umpires or "giving 'em one" in the stands as though he were just a kid throwing a tantrum and not a full grown adult trying to punch holes through people. In the end, John Bourke was suspended for 10 years from the sport which is the equivalent of a lifetime ban (a record in Australian football). It takes a lot to be remembered as the most violent player on a team during a decade when they were less known for their athletic ability and more for their fighting style.

For more from Soren, check out Using Charity to Help The Third World (Worship You as a God) and My Attempt to Create a Fat Bratz Doll: A Real Email Exchange.

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Soren Bowie

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