History and Violence: Seles, Gamboa and Tyson

Violence in Sports: Seles Tyson Gamboa

When we began Thursday, I mentioned criminal activity as a topic of this conversation.

Well, one such incident that took place—one that now lives in infamy—surfaced on the pro tennis circuit. Back in 1993 Monica Seles was playing in the Citizen Cup in Germany, and the quarterfinal round pitted her against Magdalena Maleeva. The date was April 30; Seles won the first set 6-4 and was leading in the second when a man named Günter Parche rushed the court. While the two players were breaking between games, he plunged a knife in between the shoulder blades of Seles.

The tennis star was rushed to a hospital where she was treated, recovering from the wound a few weeks later. But it took Seles two years to return to the pro circuit. Parche, however, did not serve jail time after being ruled “psychologically abnormal.” The last found report on the German-born Parche, who was 39 at the time of the attack, is from a little over three years ago. It stated he had suffered several strokes and was incapacitated in a nursing home in Nordhausen, Thuringia, Germany. He remains alive today at 62 years old.

Violence in Sports: Seles Tyson Gamboa

Attacks on pro playing fields are not limited to tennis, of course. Less than ten years from the Seles stabbing (2009) came an attack on the baseball diamond by William Ligue Jr and his son, William Ligue III. This father-son duo had a little too much to drink and during a game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, rushed the field to beat up Royals’ first base coach Tom Gamboa. They did enough damage that Gamboa lost hearing in one of his ears.

In the aftermath, Gamboa remarked:

I felt like a football team had hit me from behind. Next thing I knew, I’m on the ground trying to defend myself. It just happened so fast.

While it was never deemed criminal, an act such as this next one would be jail time for someone on the street. Mike Tyson may be one of the greatest heavyweights of all time but he was also arguably the most unhinged. His fitting into this story stems from a 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield after Holyfield knocked out Tyson a year earlier. We all know the one.

It took until the third round before Tyson’s frustrations began to surface. Feeling he was getting headbutted by Holyfield, Tyson resorted to perhaps the most bizarre act in the history of any sport. He leaned in and bit off a piece of Holyfield’s ear. The referee immediately disqualified Tyson and a brawl ensued.

Where do we go from there? From violence to the strange… Stick around.

For more from Harv Aronson, visit his website! And, check out past entries from this week below:

History and Tragedy: Peter Gray and Ray Chapman

History and Tragedy: Roy Riegels and Eddie Gaedel

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