Top 15 Bench-clearing Brawls in Sports History

Fights are not something actively sought out in most sports environments. In the heat of competition, when tempers run high, players can become consumed by their emotions and attack members of the opposing team. While fighting holds a status on the fringe of a sport like hockey, it is frowned upon on virtually every other field of play aside from combat sports. Many of the fights on this list carried significant suspensions and fines once the dust settled.

There is something about the passion and effort put into competitive sports that makes them the perfect environment for tempers to flare. Sports have long been viewed as a replacement for recreational warfare, but that is no longer the case in our modern sports environment where professionals are well paid and respected individuals. However, there always seem to be occasions where athletes allow their primal instincts to take over and these moments have produced some of the most memorable scenes in sports history.

Despite professional leagues taking measures to remove violence from their respective sports, it still manages to find a way into the game. Athletes have become consumed with anger in full view of a spectating audience, which has led to some of the most outrageous acts in sports history. The effects of these events have changed the way we view certain athletes, immortalizing some and irreparably damaging the reputations of others.

15 Pedro Martinez Throws Don Zimmer

14 Kermit Washington Knocks out Rudy Tomjanovich


13 Miami vs. FIU

12 Avalanche vs. Red Wings

11 Orioles vs. Yankees

10 Shirtless Rob Ray Beats up Claude Lemieux

9 Izzy Alcantara’s Karate Kick

8 Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura

7 St. Patrick’s Day Massacre

6 Maradona’s Kicking Spree

5 Flyers vs. Senators

In the closing moments of the 3rd period regular season matchup between the Ottawa Senators and the Philadelphia Flyers, Rob Ray and Donald Brashear squared off, with the Flyers’ Brashear getting the best of the veteran enforcer sending him off the ice with a bloodied ear. When another Senator came to the aid of Ray, a line brawl ensued complete with goaltenders Robert Esche and Patrick Lalime going at it. This was just the beginning.

4 State of Origin Rugby Fight


3 Bruins go into the Stands

2 Punch-Up in Piestany

1 Malice at the Palace

Ten years later, the Malice at the Palace still holds an infamous place in the history of the NBA. When the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers squared off on November 19, 2004, the Pacers held a lead late in the game. A scuffle broke out between Ben Wallace and Ron Artest on the court. Once things had cooled down, a fan threw a cup at Ron Artest, who had been laying on the scorer’s table. Artest then entered the stands at the Palace at Auburn Hills seeking vengeance.

Fans spilled onto the court as the fighting continued. Artest and Stephen Jackson wreaked havoc on fans, while Rasheed Wallace attempted to restrain them. It was, without a doubt, the ugliest scene in NBA history. David Stern dealt Artest a season long suspension, which cost him nearly $5 million in salary. Nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games and $11 million in fines were levied. Five players also received criminal charges for their part in the brawl, while five Pistons fans were banned from attending home games.

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Top 15 Bench-clearing Brawls in Sports History