It is common site to see actors, musicians and other celebrities in the entertainment industry spark up a cigarette or possibly even a cigar, but not so much professional athletes. In order to excel in their sport, athletes need to be at the pinnacle of good health and smoking of course will not work in their favor. Even if a professional athlete wanted to smoke, there is a high chance that their manager/coach or the organization will not allow it, so it will have to be kept a secret if their nicotine cravings become out of control. On top of all this, professional athletes are often put on a pedestal and are supposed to be positive role models for the youth of the world, and smoking is not something that an ideal role model will do.
Despite all this, there are many athletes who do enjoy the occasional cigarette or cigar, or at least have been spotted smoking (often on a night out). Sometimes this will have landed them in some hot water, while other times there have been no repercussions and it may have been on a special occasion (such as winning a championship which many see as the perfect time to enjoy a cigar).
The debate on smoking is an interesting one in sport, and in particularly soccer where it seems to be most prevalent. On the one hand, athletes are only human and it is their own decision to make. However, as someone that millions around the world idolize and look up to, it is not a positive habit and athletes should be aware of the impact that they can have on youth.
Here are 15 athletes who are known to spark up either cigarettes or cigars.
15 Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov is a player that oozes cool both off and on the pitch. The Bulgarian is famously nonchalant yet incredibly talented, and this sometimes draws criticism as it appears that he is not trying. His response to this is “if someone has great qualities, they don’t need effort”. Unlike the majority of professional athletes, Berbatov does not put much effort into concealing his smoking habit, both cigarettes and cigars, and if he continues to score stunning goals and dazzle the crowd with his control then it is difficult to argue against the Monaco forward.
14 Shane Warne
Legendary Australian Shane Warne became a global star not just for his spectacular bowling abilities, but also for his cheeky personality and off-field antics. Warne was a smoker throughout his career, but he would become a spokesperson for a company selling Nicorette packages. The company paid Warne £84,000 to quit smoking, but he was then spotted smoking during Australia’s tour of the West Indies. The company decided to let Warne keep the money despite his slip up as he had done so well prior to this, and Warne admitted “It had been quite a stressful 10-week period and unfortunately I had a night out with the lads, it was quite late at night and I gave into temptation once.”
13 Anna Kournikova
She may not have been the greatest female tennis player of all time, but Anna Kournikova is a huge global star due to her looks and at the peak of her fame she became one of the most common search terms on Google. In addition to being smoking hot, Anna Kournikova was also a smoker and unlike most athletes she would admit to sparking up the occasional cigarette. The Russian star would state “smoking is one of my bad habits. But I don’t smoke too much”. She famously never won a singles title and she was forced into early retirement (21) due to back and spinal problems. Despite this, she remains a huge name in the entertainment industry and will now face less criticism if seen smoking as she is longer a professional athlete.
12 Dion Phaneuf
The Maple Leafs defenceman and captain has been busted smoking at a few different parties during his time in Toronto as well as at the Calgary Flames. This enraged many fans and put increased pressure on Phaneuf, and this is a particularly common reaction in the sporting world in this day and age. This was not always the case however, as prior to around 1990 there were many hockey players and athletes who would smoke and it was not as frowned upon as it is now. There could be a few smokers on one team and it would not be a huge deal, but with professional athletes now followed so closely and such an emphasis on physical fitness it is now taboo and even punishable for players to be caught smoking.
11 Darren Clarke
He may not have reached John Daly’s level (more on him later), but Darren Clarke has become famous for not conforming to the typical golf club appearance of lifestyle. He has since changed his ways, but for a long time the Northern Irishman who has won 22 major tournaments was a heavy drinker and smoker. He was often seen sparking up on the course, as well as brilliantly responding to the criticisms he faced for his habits in his press conference after winning the 2011 British Open. As he was taking questions, Clarke had a celebratory pint of Guinness (his weapon of choice) delivered to him up on the stage.
10 Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole’s penchant for smoking caused friction during his time at Stamford Bridge once Jose Mourinho returned, and it certainly played a contributing part in his move away from the club. Cole lost his starting spot to Cesar Azpilicueta as Mourinho frowns heavily on smoking and demands his players to be in peak physical condition, and Cole would then be moved on to AS Roma. The England left back once had a very promising career and was deemed to be the best in his position, but his off field behaviour has lost him a lot of respect and this includes his smoking.
9 Kaarsten Braasch
German former tennis player Kaarsten Braasch may not have been a superstar, but it is impossible to leave him off a list of smoking athletes. Braasch was once described by a journalist as “a man whose training regime centred around a pack of cigarettes and more than a couple bottles of ice cold lager”. He would even have a pack on his courtside seats and spark one up during changeover, certainly something that you could not imagine a player doing at Wimbledon. Back in 1998, he would take on the Williams sisters after they claimed that they could beat a man ranked in the top 200 in a set. Up stepped Braasch (ranked at 203 and 31 years old), who stated that he had “just had a few cocktails and a round of golf”. Braasch would win the set against Serena 6-1, including enjoying a cigarette during changeover. Up next was Venus, who lost 6-2 to the German.
8 Ricardo Mayorga
Boxer Ricardo Mayorga became famous for drinking and smoking, as well as his relentless trash talking prior to fights. When asked about his smoking, Mayorga responded “yes, I smoke a lot, but I also run a lot, box a lot and train a lot.” He is somewhat of a loose cannon, but this also helped to draw a lot more attention to the sport with Ring Magazine stating in 2003 that he was “the craziest man in sport. Mayorga lights up boxing.” He has also embarked on a MMA career, and during the press conferences he would smoke and even got under his opponents skin by blowing smoke in his face.
7 Jack Wilshere
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been spotted smoking on several occasions, causing quite an uproar in the UK press with many condemning his actions. After being photographed smoking cigarettes a few times, Wilshere was photographed smoking a shisha pipe in February 2015 which landed him in more hot water. In response, Wilshere uploaded a video of himself working out in the gym with a message along with the video that states “worry about your character not your reputation, because your character is who you are and your reputation is only what people who don’t know you think about you.” Wilshere has a lot to prove, but injuries have held him back and he will be desperate for a good season to silence his many critics.
6 Randy Moss
You will not find many NFL players that smoke (or have been caught smoking), but former wide receiver and record holder Randy Moss is one. He has admitted to smoking marijuana during his NFL career and this has been well documented, but Moss has also been photographed smoking cigarettes too. Although very athletic in his younger years, Moss was criticized for a lack of effort in his later years and even for giving up mid-game. This could well have to do with Moss’s penchant for smoking and not caring for his body in his later years (this is hugely important for any veteran in all sports).
5 Mario Balotelli
Smoking cigarettes is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wild, off-pitch antics from the enigmatic Mario Balotelli. The Italian is seen as football’s “bad boy”, and this is part of the reason that he has moved around so many teams as even the top managers have failed to tame him. Balotelli was bizarrely busted for smoking in the toilet of a train whilst travelling to a game in Italy, and this is just one incident in which the forward has been spotting puffing away. During his time at Man City, Mancini stated that he did not mind if Balotelli smoked as long as he was scoring goals, but now the goals have dried up for Balotelli (four last season) and his once promising future looks particularly bleak.
4 Alex Rodriguez
One of the least popular athletes in the world and one that is constantly criticized by the press, A-Rod has added smoking to his list of why he catches so much heat. He has been known to enjoy the occasional cigar like several athletes, and with the performance enhancing drug scandal it should not come as too much of a surprise that he does not seem to have a problem with taking potentially harmful substances. He may be hated by the majority, but his wealth and success will ensure that A-Rod does not care what others think and will not have a problem lighting up a very expensive cigar after an exceptional performance.
3 Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney has been the Manchester United and England linchpin for many years, which means that he is always in the public eye. Unfortunately for Rooney, this means he has been busted sparking up a few times much to the displeasure of the media. In 2010, Rooney was seen lighting up a cigarette, urinating in the street and singing at the top of his lungs on a night out in Manchester, which is hardly the behaviour you would expect from England’s top talent. Rooney is only human and also under immense pressure, but equally he is a huge role model and someone that millions of kids look up to. This criticism is the price you pay for being a celebrity, as it is impossible for someone like Rooney to let his hair down (not that he could) without a camera in his face.
2 Michael Jordan
The greatest player to ever grace the hardwood, “His Airness” is famous for being a cigar smoker. Now that he has hung up his shoes (hopefully for the last time), it is common to see him with a Cuban cigar in his mouth on the golf course. He would also spark up during his playing days, and this was after he was handed one after winning his 1st NBA title (there are many famous photos of Jordan with a cigar and the trophy). He soon got the taste for them, and would smoke one before every single home game in order to relax. It clearly worked for him.
1 John Daly
The “bad boy” of golf, John Daly became famous for his rough and tumble lifestyle and not conforming to the typical golf club appearance. In addition to his striking clothing, Daly also was overweight and would both drink and smoke heavily (including on the course). Golf is a sport which does not require competitors to be in fantastic physical condition, but most will still take care of their bodies (and some will exercise as strenuously as other athletes). This was never Daly’s style, who would overindulge too much and would require lap-band surgery in 2009. Whilst he has curbed his drinking, smoking is his vice and he smokes around 40 a day.