The Olympics have long been the home of great triumphs, of human drama and the indomitable spirit of the will. Naturally, we’re choosing to focus on all the weird shit that happens instead. There have been a lot of Olympic scandals over the years, covering a broad range including everything from doping to terrorism, but while some scandals might not end up on the cover of Time magazine, they deserve recognition too, if only to remind us that as grandiose as the Olympics – and people – can be, they can also be really, really strange. And with that in mind, we bring you this, eight of the most bizarre Olympic scandals ever.
9. Impostor Marathon Winner – 1972 Summer Olympics, Munich, Germany
A lot of wild shit went down at the ’72 Summer Olympics in Munich, but lost in all the furor was the weird story of the marathon. American Frank Shorter was leading the race when suddenly a man burst into the stadium ahead of him, causing the crowd to erupt into cheers because one of their boys was about to pull the upset. Naturally, he was a fraud who snuck in right at the last second. Commentators Jim McKay and Erich Segal handled the whole affair with good humor and grace, and… oh wait, actually they went nuts and started screaming that the dude was a bum while that snitch Segal famously called out “It’s a fraud, Frank!” The German dude was promptly removed and god only knows what those degenerate Germans did to him in the aftermath, but according to my cultural studies, it probably involved scat and a severe blonde woman with a whip.
7. Blood in the Water Match – 1956 Summer Olympics, Melbourne, Australia
In 1956, Hungary was in the midst of revolution against the Soviet dominated government. Obviously, it probably wasn’t the best time for Hungary’s water polo team to play the Russians. Naturally, the game, won by Hungary 4-0, descended into brutality, and after a Hungarian emerged from the pool bloody after being punched by a Russian, it became known as the “Blood in the Water” match. Even more interesting, though, is that the stands were filled with Hungarian expatriates, and a full-on riot which probably would have ended with a bunch of dead Russian water polo players nearly broke out until police entered the stadium and kept everyone from completely losing their shit. Even though the Russians lost the game, they managed to win the rematch when tanks rolled into Hungary and brutally suppressed the revolution. God only knows what the rubber match would have looked like.
6. Priests Gone Wild – 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens, Greece
Just before the finish of the 2004 marathon, a defrocked Irish priest went nuts and attacked the race’s leader, Brazil’s Vaderlei de Lima, pulling him into the crowd and causing him to lose the race. Obviously, this isn’t the first time that a priest lost his shit and started pawing at a young man, but usually they don’t get quite so handsy out in the open like that. The priest, Cornelius “Neil” Horan (no relation) had actually done the same thing a year earlier at the 2003 British Grand Prix. Authorities arrested him and afterwards said that he was drunk, and also completely nuts, as he was wearing a shirt which said “The Grand Prix Priest. Israel Fulfillment of Prophecy Says The Bible. The Second Coming is Near.” Well, of course. de Lima ended up finishing third and was later given a special medal for sportsmanship, which I’m sure made him feel much better.
5. Taekwondo Assault – 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing, China
Cuban taekwondoist Angel Matos had worked his whole life to get to the Olympics, and probably saw it as his way out of a depressing Cuban life. So you can understand his frustration when he was disqualified by a ref for taking too much time during an injury timeout. Of course, there’s frustration, and then there’s flipping out and kicking the ref in the face, which is what Matos did. And just to prove that it wasn’t a temporary loss of sanity, he went ahead and punched another official in the face just to prove he wasn’t messing around. Matos was eventually barred for life from all international competition, but hey, at least he kept it real.
4. Protest by Gluttony – 2004 Summer Olympics, Athens, Greece
Iranian judoka Arash Miresmaili never even got a chance to compete as he showed up for his judo showdown with an Israeli and was promptly disqualified for being overweight. It turns out that Miresmaili intentionally binged all night long like a gluttonous Roman orgiest in order to protest Israel’s recognition as a country by the IOC, which, uh, that’s a pretty weird protest. Or maybe it was just a convenient excuse to pig out. Who knows? Naturally, Iran declared him a hero and President Mohammad Khatami declared him “the champion of the 2004 Olympic games” because he, uh, ate a lot. I just hope nobody tells them that hot dog eating contests aren’t actually an Olympic sport, and even if they were, they’d still end up falling short of the Great Satan after Joey Chestnut flexed nuts all over the place.
3. The Man in Black – 1968 Winter Olympics, Grenoble, France
The men’s slalom event got weird as hell in the Alps, where – no surprise – it was snowing heavily. This meant that visibility was near zero and gave Austrian skier Karl Schranz convenient cover when he inexplicably stopped in the middle of his run. He claimed that a man in black had run out on the course, forcing him to stop. Nobody else saw this mystery man, but officials let him go again. This time Schranz posted the fastest time, and looked to be on his way to upsetting French champion Jean-Claude Killy. Then they actually looked at the tapes. These showed that Schranz actually missed a gate on the upper part of the course, and he was promptly DQ’ed. The most likely scenario is that Schranz knew he fucked up, panicked, stopped and then made up the man in black story on the spot. Or hell, maybe it was actually a Yeti, or he was on acid – it was 1968 after all – or… okay, the dude made that shit up.
2. Korean Beat Down – 1988 Summer Olympics, Seoul, South Korea
We’ve already seen that occasionally an athlete will flip out on a ref, and fans aren’t afraid to get wild from time to time, but it’s a whole new level of ridiculous when an entire delegation gangs up on a ref. But that’s exactly what happened at the 1988 Summer Olympics, where the boxing event was marred by shady officiating from start to finish. American boxers Roy Jones, Jr. and Michael Carbajal were both robbed in two of the most blatantly obvious sham fights in Olympic history. The main beneficiary of these decisions was the home country South Korea, which is what makes the next part so ironic. In the team boxing event, the refs awarded a narrow victory to Hungary over South Korea, and either because they’d had enough of the shitty judging, or maybe because they felt betrayed by officials which had thrown them a few favors throughout the games, the South Korean delegation went apeshit, as two coaches and several security guards attacked New Zealand referee Keith Walker. The event was dubbed “A sad day in Seoul” by Sports Illustrated, but hey, at least Dennis Rodman wasn’t involved which means that South Korea will always be one up on their brothers to the north.
1. The Surrealist Marathon – 1904 Summer Olympics, St. Louis, USA
This incident is so bizarre that we devoted a whole article to it already. I don’t even have enough room to talk about how ridiculous and crazy the whole thing was, so just click on the link and read all about it. I think my favorite part might be the dude who got chased by wild dogs, or maybe it was the guy who passed out after eating bad apples, or… just go read it, okay? And then I think you’ll agree that nothing in Olympic history has never been – and will never be – as bizarre as this.
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