Sport's notorious biters

By Matt Smith of the Otago Daily Times

You would think professional sportsmen get more than enough in their pay packet to cover their eating bill each week. But it seems champagne, caviar and a late-night kebab just aren't enough for some particularly ravenous types, who need a snack at the strangest of times - often in the middle of a sporting contest.

In the wake of the Luis Suarez biting incident, Otago Daily Times reporter Matt Smith looks at other notorious chompers.

Johan Le Roux

All Black hooker and captain Sean Fitzpatrick knew how to wind up 99 per cent of his opponents, but not even he would have expected an angry prop from Transvaal to respond with a love bite.

Fitzy had been baiting Le Roux throughout the second test of the 1994 series between the All Blacks and the Springboks - nothing new there, of course, as the All Black great often found time to needle his opponents in between his unofficial refereeing duties.

But the master fisherman got caught on the rugby equivalent of some slippery rocks, and once Le Roux had isolated Fitzy on the ground a few metres from a ruck, the ravenous Le Roux nibbled away at Fitzy's earlobe, earning him a 19-month ban once his indiscretion was spotted.

Mike Tyson

If you're going to take a bite out of someone, why not do it when millions are watching you? Mike Tyson has never been one to put a lot of thought and planning into his actions, and his 1997 title fight against Evander Holyfield went pretty much to plan - at least the plan in Iron Mike's head.

Frustrated with what he perceived to be sneaky headbutts from Holyfield, Tyson "forgot" to put his mouthguard back in at the start of the third round, embraced an angelic Evander and sunk his fangs deep into the flesh of Evander's right ear.

Not satisfied with his dental imprint, Tyson then evened matters up by having a crack at the left ear. Judge Mills Lane docked two points from Tyson for the first gnaw, and disqualified him after the second bite.

Still, the esteemed Mr Tyson does a pretty good version of One Night In Bangkok on The Hangover 2, so all is not lost.

Shahid Afridi

No humans were harmed in the making of this biting episode. However, a leather ball was sullied by Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi.

The Pakistani bowling attack of the early 1990s (and Chris Pringle) were masters of manipulation by bottle-top, but by the late 2000s, Afridi opted for a different approach when his side was seeking a win against Australia in Perth in 2010. Or maybe he was just hungry and mistook the ball for a juicy Red Delicious apple.

Afridi might have avoided the steely gaze of the match referee if it was a minor game away from live television, but his decent chomp down on the Kookaburra four-piece was captured by Channel 9's cameras, and he was handed a two-match ban.

James Graham

Ahhh, the NRL. If ever you find other sports to be mundane, search for names like Julian O'Neill, Nate Myles, Greg Bird and Todd Carney, and while away a few hours reading up on their antics.

James Graham's indiscretion was on the paddock, at least, but he could have chosen a less prestigious occasion than the 2012 NRL grand final in which to satisfy his bloodlust.

Sure, Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater is one of those annoying little players who big forwards just love to mash when they get a chance, but as a melee unfolded, the Englishman grabbed Slater and had a snack. A 12-match ban was handed down as Graham continued to protest his innocence.

Graham received support from former Wests star Tommy Raudonikis, who bit Manly halfback Johnny Gibbs in 1976. Raudonikis later featured on the cover of Rugby League Week under a mask and with a vampire tooth, and was fined for bringing the game into disrepute.

- Otago Daily Times

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