White America did not like him but Ali did not care. He relinquished his name Cassius Clay saying it was his "slave name" and changed it to Muhammad Ali. "I don`t have to be what you want me to be; I`m free to be what I want," Ali would say.
He threw his Olympic Gold medal into the Ohio river. His argument was if it could not make him equal to a White, of what use was the medal. His best anti-establishment act to date has been his refusal to fight in Vietnam.
The US Govt prosecuted him for draft dodging, and the boxing commission took away his license. But three and a half years later, he was back in the ring.
Ian Chappell was aggressive, resourceful and casual. He had tremendous self-belief and conviction and was never afraid to speak his mind. He stood up against the Australian Cricket Board for players rights. In 1974, the gate collections from the Melbourne Test were a quarter of a million dollars, but the players were given a paltry two hundred dollars each for the game.
He cried foul, and changed the whole payment system for the Aussies. Perhaps he is the only critic of Sir Don Bradman, for the ex-Aussie captain thought Bradman was running the ACB as his own.
McEnroe was a champion tennis star - with 154 singles and doubles titles, including 17 Grand Slam Championships (7 Singles and 10 Doubles), in addition to leading the United States to five Davis Cup titles. But he is most remembered for his outburst on the field, more specifically, `You cannot be serious!`
While most tennis players would grudgingly go on with the game, he would question the umpire & linesmen. Racket throwing, racket breaking, swearing, and eventually ending up paying huge fines was what McEnroe did best. Yet, he was loved.
Tyson is usually calm but at times goes hostile. And when that happens, god save people around him. From biting Evander Holyfield`s ears during a bout to biting Lennox Lewis` thighs during a press conference, this hulk of a man has done everything.
In between, he served a three year jail term for raping Desiree Washington, a beauty queen, in 1991. He comes out of the jail, and here are his first words: `Where is Desiree, I am so angry at her, I want to rape her now.`
It took Ben Johnson just 9.78 seconds to shake the World - he won the 1988 Seoul Olympics 100m Gold. The line up he beat included Carl Lewis and Linford Christie. And that was no mean achievemnet. But two days later, the World shook again. This time, he was stripped off his Gold medal after testing positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
Johnson twice tried a comeback after Seoul Olympics but was found guilty of doping violations each time. Today, Canadians do not like the mention of his name. As for Johnson, he is an athletics coach at Toronto Track and Field Centre at York University and at 41 still lives with his mother in Toronto.
Others include the cricketers Shane Warne and Brian Lara , Dhanraj Pillay, the mercurial Indian hockey striker, footballer Diego Maradona.
Genius begets eccentricty, they say. And from the looks of it, it just might be true. How else can one explain the behaviour of a Brian Lara or John McEnroe or Mohammed Ali. But does this mean that a calm and composed Sachin Tendulkar is not a genius?
How about Vishwanathan Anand? Sergi Bubka? Or a Pete Sampras? Even as the question remains unanswered, we move on to some sportsmen who have behaved really bad. So much so, parents do not want their children to watch them play.