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Stitches and balls

No pain no gain as the saying goes. These guys have proved it by playing on with broken teeth, tibias and testicles. You’ll never use that sniffle as an excuse to skip the gym again…

Smashed teeth

Jaromir Jagr

Ice hockey is a notoriously high impact sport but the raised stick incident that left four of the Florida Panthers player’s front pearly whites splattered on the ice in a bloody mess stands out from the rest. “I lost some teeth but I increased my speed,” he joked. The Panthers beat the Ottawa Cardinals 2-1 and Jagr got replacement teeth for Christmas.


Man flu

Michael Jordan

Jordan was so massive you could say he was bigger than the game of basketball itself. So much so that the legendary illness he played through vs the Utah Jazz during the 1997 NBA finals has led to that game being known as ‘the flu game’. Between each play Jordan was collapsing on the bench sweating and chugging down liquids like he’d been out on a large one the night before He still bagged 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block though...

Bitten ear

Evander Holyfield 

What a way to retain the WBA heavyweight title. The one inch chunk of bloody cartilage on the floor of the ring that adorned the next day’s papers is the stand out image from ‘The Bite Fight’ in one of the most bizarre and ill-tempered boxing matches of all time. Many don’t realise that the match continued and Mike Tyson went on to chew the other ear as well. He was later disqualified and had his boxing licence revoked. He said sorry on Oprah many years after and Holyfield accepted his apology in what was in no way a publicity stunt for the movie The Hangover  released that year. 

Evander Holyfield Ear ()


Cracked pelvis

Geraint Thomas

The Tour de France ace and British Olympic champion described the injury as the worst he’s ever had when he broke his pelvis on the first stage of the 2013 race. Ibuprofen, paracetamol and coffee helped him continue and he ended up crossing the final stage finish line arm-in-arm with yellow jersey-winning team mate Chris Froome.

Broken neck

Bert Trautmann

Knocked unconscious and broken your neck... time for a substitution? But in 1956 there was no such thing so the Manchester City keeper had to play on for the remaining 15 minutes of the FA Cup Final with a decidedly floppy head. It was only thanks to the fortunate way that the five damaged vertebrae had lodged themselves together that he didn’t actually die on the pitch. Prince Philip joked that he looked a little crooked as he gave him his winners medal but Trautmann even went on to neck a few (sorry) at the celebration banquet that night before getting medical attention the following day. He was out for three months despite initial misdiagnosis as just a severe sprain. 

Bert Trautmann broken neck ()


Lacerated Testicle

Wayne Shelford

Shelford’s debut for the All Blacks against France in 1986 became known as The Battle of Nantes due to its overly combative nature. Perhaps it’s for the best that concussion meant he remembered nothing of the match as he somehow managed to rip his scrotum in a ruck that left one of his testicles ‘hanging free’. A quick stitch to his sack and he was back on the pitch. They went on to lose but he was part of the team that got sweet revenge beating France in the Rugby World Cup Final the following year.

Amputated finger

Ronnie Lott

Dedication is certainly what you need, but maybe NFL Hall-of-Famer Lott took it a little too far. After having his finger crushed in a match against the Dallas Cowboys he decided that, rather than miss the start of the 1986 season by undergoing reconstructive surgery and the subsequent weeks of rehab, it would make more sense to simply have the offending finger amputated. “Man, that looks like ET’s head!” he said when the bandages were removed. He finished that season for the 49ers as interceptions leader, even without the pinkie.

Ronnie Lott ()


Shattered knee

Shun Fujimoto

A 9.5 on the pommel horse and a 9.7 on the rings is no mean feat at the best of times. But at the 1976 Montreal Olympics this Japanese gymnast did all that and more, going on to win gold in the team event, even though he had broken his knee during the floor exercise. Upon dismounting the rings he raised his arm in a perfect finish then collapsed to the floor in agony having further dislocated the already broken knee and torn ligaments in his right leg. He said he continued because he didn’t want to let the team down.

Bionic forearm

Thomas Davis

There was no way the veteran Carolina Panthers linebacker was going to let a fractured arm stop him competing in what was likely to be his last shot at a Super Bowl. 13 days after undergoing major surgery to have 12 screws and a plate planted in his forearm, he did just that. They ended up losing to the Broncos 24-10 but the gruesome pictures of his scars went viral so that’s some consolation at least. 

Thomas Davis Forearm ()


Removed intestines

Brett Favre

Just before his senior year the Golden Eagles quarterback suffered serious internal injuries in a car crash leading to over two feet of his intestines having to be surgically removed. He returned to action less than a month later, leading his team to a surprise win over Alabama and going on to be named MVP of the 1990 All-American Bowl.

Broken tibia

Tiger Woods

You can say what you like about the former world number one golfer, but in 2008 he managed to beat all comers to win the US Open on one leg after playing with a double stress fracture of his left tibia and anterior cruciate ligament damage.

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