Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
Getty Images

Olympics Loser Fights his Horse (and 5 other Unlikely Sports Brawls)

Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
Getty Images

While I usually don't pay much attention to the WNBA, it's hard to ignore what Candace Parker is doing to kick-start interest in the league.  She's dunking, she's rebounding, and on Tuesday night she went one step further and became embroiled in a melee during the Los Angeles Sparks' road game against the Detroit Shock.  If you sat down to make a list of "sporting events at which you're least likely to see a brawl," a WNBA game would have to be near the top, but was it the most unexpected throwdown of all time? Here are a few other notables you may have missed:

1. Stock Car Racing Goes Kung Fu

Before the event started, there was relatively little chance of the 2006 Glass City 200 at Toledo Speedway becoming an object of international fascination. After all, it wasn't even a NASCAR race; it was part of the ARCA series, a sort of minor league level of the sport.  All of that changed when Don Saint Denis spun out Michael Simko during the race. With the red flag up to stop the race, Simko decided it was time for some revenge. He hopped out of his car and ran full-steam towards Saint Denis' ride before giving it a flying Mortal-Kombat-style kick through the windshield. Simko then removed his helmet and started punching his foe through the driver's window. Saint Denis wasn't going to go down without a fight, though; he crawled out of the car and started defending himself.  The dustup was shown on television stations around the world and quickly became a YouTube classic; both riders drew suspensions for their actions. Here's video of the scrape:

2. NASCAR Fights Its Way National

The 1979 Daytona 500 is considered one of the most important races in the sport's history, but not completely because what drivers did behind the wheel. Although the race was the first of its length to be shown on live television in the U.S., what happened after the checkered flag dropped made it legendary. In the last lap of a tight race, Cale Yarborough tried a risky pass of leader Donnie Allison. Allison successfully blocked Yarborough's advance, but Yarborough hit the infield mud and lost control of his car.  The two drivers careened into the wall and ended up crashed in the infield as Richard Petty zipped past them to take the win. Allison and Yaborough got out of their cars and started arguing in the infield, and within a few seconds were throwing punches, as was Allison's brother Bobby. CBS broadcast the fight nationwide, and the story hit the front of the New York Times' sports section, which helped propel NASCAR to much greater national popularity.

3. Jockeys Throw Diminutive Blows

Jockey Eddie Taplin was a legendary ironman in the horseracing scene of the early 20th century. He ran over 9,000 races in a career that spanned over three decades before retiring in 1936.  He also wasn't afraid to shred some silks after a race was over. Taplin lost the 1910 Martinez Handicap to E. Martin, who was aboard the horse Binocular.  During the stretch run, though, Taplin had cracked Martin with his whip, which he claimed was justified since Martin crowded him. The two jockeys jawed about the contact after the race, and eventually Martin lost his temper and threw a punch.  Taplin may not have started the fight, but he ended it: he punched Martin hard enough that he dislocated two of his own fingers. The tiny pugilists eventually separated and received suspensions.

4. Man Fights Horse

Taplin and Martin's spat may not have been all that classy, but at least they attacked each other and not their horses, which is more than can be said for Hans-Jurgen Todt.  The West German modern pentathlete was competing at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics when his horse for the riding portion of the competition began giving him trouble. The horse, Ranchero, balked at three different obstacles, effectively killing Todt's chance at a medal. Todt then came unhinged and started attacking the horse. It took several teammates to eventually break up the one-sided fight, and Todt became a strange Olympic footnote as a sort of anti-Nietzsche.

5. Water Polo Gets Physical

Water polo is already a taxing game, but in one match early in the 20th century, it turned downright violent. Teams from New York and Chicago met in Pittsburgh for a preliminary match to crown a national champion in the sport, and things quickly turned rather gruesome. Early in the match a scrum broke out, and it escalated until four men were taken from the water unconscious. At that point, it probably seemed the fight was over, but Chicago's coach Joe Choynsky had a different idea. Choynsky, a former prizefighter, reignited the melee by delivering a picture-perfect blow to the jaw of New York player Joe Ruddy. According to Time magazine, a riot then broke out as female spectators yelled "Shame!" at the men. Following these antics, the Amateur Athletic Union dropped water polo from its program for over twenty years before picking it back up in 1934.

6. Snooker Players Take It Outside

Before he became a professional pool player, Australian Quinten Hann was a hotheaded pro snooker player known for his temperamental outbursts. One particularly notable incident occurred at the 2004 World Championships while he was playing Andy Hicks.  Throughout the match Hann taunted the unseeded Englishman, and after Hicks dropped Hann 10-4, Hann challenged Hicks to a fistfight outside. Match officials separated the players, but they eventually came to blows. After the fistfight, fellow snooker pro Mark King decided to take up Hicks' cause in a charity boxing match after the event. Hann apparently decided he was something of a pugilist after this win and scheduled another fight against Gaelic footballer Johnny Magee; Magee promptly broke Hann's nose in that bout.

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Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
General Mills
10 Winning Facts about Wheaties
General Mills
General Mills

Famous for its vivid orange boxes featuring star athletes and its classic "breakfast of champions" tagline, Wheaties might be the only cereal that's better known for its packaging than its taste. The whole wheat cereal has been around since the 1920s, becoming an icon not just of the breakfast aisle, but the sports and advertising worlds, too. Here are 10 winning facts about it.

1. IT WAS INVENTED BY ACCIDENT.

The Washburn Crosby Company wasn't initially in the cereal business. At the time, the Minnesota-based company—which became General Mills in 1928—primarily sold flour. But in 1921, the story goes, a dietitian in Minneapolis spilled bran gruel on a hot stove. The bran hardened into crispy, delicious flakes, and a new cereal was born. In 1924, the Washburn Crosby Company began selling a version of the flakes as a boxed cereal it called Washburn's Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes. A year later, after a company-wide contest, the company changed the name to Wheaties.

2. ITS JINGLE FEATURED A SINGING UNDERTAKER AND A COURT BAILIFF.

Wheaties sales were slow at first, but the Washburn Crosby Company already had a built-in advertising platform: It owned the Minneapolis radio station WCCO. Starting on December 24, 1926, the station began airing a jingle for the cereal sung by a barbershop quartet called the Wheaties Quartet. The foursome sang "Have You Tried Wheaties" live over the radio every week, earning $15 (about $200 today) per performance. In addition to their weekly singing gig, the men of the Wheaties Quartet all also had day jobs: One was an undertaker, one was a court bailiff, one worked in the grain industry, and one worked in printing. The ad campaign eventually went national, helping boost Wheaties sales across the country and becoming an advertising legend.

3. WHEATIES HAS BEEN TIED TO SPORTS SINCE ALMOST THE BEGINNING.

Carl Lewis signs a Wheaties box with his image on it for a young boy.
Track and field Olympic medalist Carl Lewis
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images

Wheaties has aligned itself with the sports world since its early days. In 1927, Wheaties bought ad space at Minneapolis's Nicollet Park, home to a minor league baseball team called the Millers, and in 1933, the cereal brand started sponsoring the team's game-day radio broadcasts on WCCO. Eventually, Wheaties baseball broadcasts expanded to 95 different radio stations, covering teams all over the country and further cementing its association with the sport. Since then, generations of endorsements from athletes of all stripes have helped sell consumers on the idea that eating Wheaties can make them strong and successful just like their favorite players. The branding association has been so successful that appearing on a Wheaties box has itself become a symbol of athletic achievement.

4. WHEATIES HELPED KICK-START RONALD REAGAN'S ACTING CAREER.

In the 1930s, a young sports broadcaster named Ronald Reagan was working at a radio station in Des Moines, Iowa, narrating Wheaties-sponsored Chicago Cubs and White Sox games. As part of this job, Reagan went to California to visit the Cubs' spring training camp in 1937. While he was there, he also did a screen test at Warner Bros. The studio ended up offering him a seven-year contract, and later that year, he appeared in his first starring role as a radio commentator in Love Is On The Air.

5. ATHLETES' PHOTOS DIDN'T ALWAYS APPEAR ON THE FRONT OF BOXES.

Three Wheaties boxes featuring Michael Phelps
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Although a Wheaties box wouldn't seem complete without an athlete's photo on it today, the cereal didn't always feature athletes front and center. In the early years, the boxes had photos of athletes like baseball legend Lou Gehrig (the first celebrity to be featured, in 1934) on the back or side panels of boxes. Athletes didn't start to appear on the front of the box until 1958, when the cereal featured Olympic pole vaulter Bob Richards.

6. THE FIRST WOMAN ON A WHEATIES BOX WAS A PILOT.

Former Track and Field Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersey stands with a poster of her new Wheaties box after it was unveiled in 2004.
Former Track and Field Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersey stands with a poster of her new Wheaties box after it was unveiled in 2004.
Stephen Chernin, Getty Images

Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton became the first woman to appear on the front of a Wheaties box in 1984, but women did appear elsewhere on the box in the brand's early years. The first was pioneering aviator and stunt pilot Elinor Smith. Smith, whose picture graced the back of the box in 1934, set numerous world aviation records for endurance and altitude in the 1920s and 1930s.

7. IT USED TO HAVE A MASCOT.

Though we now associate Wheaties with athletes rather than an animal mascot, the cereal did have the latter during the 1950s. In an attempt to appeal to children, Wheaties adopted a puppet lion named Champy (short for "Champion") as the brand's mascot. Champy and his puppet friends sang about the benefits of Wheaties in commercials that ran during The Mickey Mouse Club, and kids could order their own Champy hand puppets for 50 cents (less than $5 today) if they mailed in Wheaties box tops.

8. MICHAEL JORDAN IS THE WHEATIES KING.

Of all the athletes who have graced the cover of a Wheaties box, basketball superstar Michael Jordan takes the cake for most appearances. He's been featured on the box 18 times, both alone and with the Chicago Bulls. He also served as a spokesperson for the cereal, appearing in numerous Wheaties commercials in the '80s and '90s.

9. FANS ONCE GOT THE CHANCE TO PICK A WHEATIES STAR.

MMA star Anthony Pettis on the front of a Wheaties box.
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The public hasn't often gotten a chance to weigh in on who will appear on the Wheaties box. But in 2014, Wheaties customers got to decide for the first time which athlete would be featured nationally. Called the Wheaties NEXT Challenge, the contest allowed people to vote for the next Wheaties Champion by logging their workouts on an app platform called MapMyFitness. Every workout of 30 minutes or more counted as one vote. Participants could choose between Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper, motocross rider Ryan Dungey, mixed-martial-artist Anthony Pettis, lacrosse player Rob Pannell, or soccer player Christen Press. Pettis won, becoming the first MMA fighter to appear on the box in early 2015.

10. THERE WERE SEVERAL SPINOFFS THAT DIDN'T CATCH ON.

Three different Wheaties boxes featuring Tiger Woods sitting together on a table
Tiger Woods's Wheaties covers, 1998
Getty Images

Faced with declining sales, Wheaties introduced several spinoff cereals during the 1990s and early 2000s, including Honey Frosted Wheaties, Crispy Wheaties 'n Raisins, and Wheaties Energy Crunch. None of them sold very well, and they were all discontinued after a few years. The brand kept trying to expand its offerings, though. In 2009, General Mills introduced Wheaties Fuel, a version of the cereal it claimed was more tailored to men's dietary needs. Wheaties Fuel had more vitamin E and—unlike the original—no folic acid, which is commonly associated with women's prenatal supplements. Men didn't love Wheaties Fuel, though, and it was eventually discontinued too. Now, only the original "breakfast of champions" remains.

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Snooker players Quentin Hann and Mark Hicks.
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
The Sandlot Is Returning to Theaters for Its 25th Anniversary
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

Few films from the 1990s have grown in stature over the years like The Sandlot. Though it gained respectable reviews and box office receipts when it was released in April 1993, the movie's standing in pop culture has since ballooned into cult classic territory, and you can still find merchandise and even clothing lines dedicated to it today.

Now you can revisit the adventures of Smalls, Ham, Squints, and The Beast on the big screen when Fathom Events and Twentieth Century Fox, in association with Island World, bring The Sandlot back to theaters for its 25th anniversary. The event will be held in 400 theaters across the U.S. on July 22 at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., and Tuesday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m and 7:00 p.m. (all times local).

Each screening will come complete with a preview of a new documentary detailing the making of the movie, so if you wanted to know even more about how this coming-of-age baseball classic came to be, now’s your chance.

For more information about ticket availability in your area, head to the Fathom Events website. And if you want to dive into some more trivia about the movie—including the fact that it was filmed in only 42 days—we’ve got you covered.

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