Trash talk essentially boils down to two things. Either hyping up your own game by telling everyone how great you are, or attacking your opponents game and telling everyone how bad they are. It is often humorous, and generally meant to be taken in good spirit, although at times there can be some vitriol behind the words.
Trash talk has grown in popularity largely since the days of Muhammad Ali in the 1960's. At that time, boxers and fighters tended to let their trainers do the talking, but not Ali. Of course, 'the Greatest', as he crowned himself, could back up his trash talk, but the individuals on this list, could not.
Trash talk is most common in combat sports, or at least sports which involve an element of physical aggression, and it is no surprise that fighters and NFL players make up a large portion of this list. Whilst the likes of Ali and Jordan were known for talking a big game, they also played a big game. The athletes on this list, on one occasion at least, trash talked and ended up humiliated. Here are the top 20 trash talkers in sports who couldn't back it up:
20 20. Freddie Mitchell
In February 2005, prior to the Super Bowl XXXIX between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, Freddie Mitchell told the press that he only knew the Patriots cornerbacks numbers, and not their names. In a string of less than impressive trash talk, Mitchell also claimed that he "had something" for Patriots strong safety Rodney Harrison.
19 19. Jenn Stuczynski
18 18. Rex Ryan
17 17. Nyjer Morgan
16 16. Brian Bosworth
15 15. Tiki Barber
14 14. Lance Stephenson
13 13. Matt Hasselbeck
12 12. Anthony Smith
11 11. Rick Dutrow
10 10. Tom Brady
9 9. Kevin Keegan
Sir Alex Ferguson had a number of attributes which made him probably the greatest soccer manager in the history of the game, and mind games were undoubtedly one of them. He got into the heads of Arsene Wenger, Rafa Benitez, Roberto Mancini and more, but the greatest example of Ferguson's mind games was surely the spat between him and then Newcastle manager Kevin Keegan.
8 8. Winston Montero
7 7. Reggie Miller
Everybody knows about the trash talk between Reggie Miller and Spike Lee, and that is trash talk which Miller has largely backed up. However, earlier in his career, Miller learned that there was one man to whom his trash talking would not have the desired effect, and that man was Michael Jordan. In Miller's rookie year, the Pacers faced the Chicago Bulls in an exhibition game. When halftime came and Miller had 10 points to Jordan's 4, he began berating Jordan.
6 6. David Haye
5 5. Alain Bernard
4 4. Lyoto Machida
3 3. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was undefeated for five years in 2002, having not lost a bout since his 1997 defeat to Evander Holyfied. However, 4 wins and 2 no contests against less than formidable opposition didn't prove that the true Tyson was back. To do that, he would have to beat a genuinely world class opponent, and he got that chance in 2002, a fight against Lennox Lewis for five heavyweight titles.
2 2. Bobby Riggs
Bobby Riggs talked a big game in the build up to his second 'Battle of the Sexes' tennis match against Billy Jean King. Riggs had already defeated the top female player in the world at the time, Margaret Court, 6-2, 6-1, and was heavily favored to breeze past King with equal ease. Riggs had repeatedly said that even at the age of 55 no women's player was worthy of sharing the same court as a top male tennis player, and many had accused him of chauvinism.
1 1. Chael Sonnen
Most of the athletes on this list learned their lesson after being humiliated by making claims or criticisms which came back to bite them, but Chael Sonnen appears incapable of realizing that he's making a fool of himself. His most famous trash talk was in the build up to his fight with Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Sonnen tediously tried to hype the fight with constant jibes towards Silva, culminating with quotes such as "You’re training really hard.’ Well, guess what dummy? I’ve been training really hard since I was nine years old and I still have time to bring interest to people wanting to see me whip your ass on August 7."
Sonnen was defeated by submission in the fifth round. He lost to Silva again in 2012 by TKO in the second round. More recently, Sonnen turned his hand to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, where he claimed he was the best fighter in the world and the new face of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, before having fought anyone. In his first fight, against the actual face of the sport, Andre Galvao, Sonnen lost by submission once more.
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