Boris Becker bankrupt: From Diego Maradona to Chris Cairns, list of sportsmen who went down the same route

Former German tennis star Boris Becker was declared bankrupt by a court in London on Wednesday after failing to pay a "substantial" long-standing debt since 2015.

The three-time Wimbledon champion joined a long list of athletes who fell from dizzying heights of fortune to file for bankruptcy due to a myriad of reasons from mismanagement of finances to child support.

1. Diego Maradona (Football)

File image of Diego Maradona

File image of Diego Maradona. AP

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona, a recipient of FIFA's Player of the Century award and part of the 1986 World Cup winning team, set the world record for football team transfer payments twice.

However in in 2009, he filed for bankruptcy after the Italian Tax Authority demanded that he pay back $54 million dollars worth of unpaid taxes from his time playing for Napoli from 1984 to 1991.

2. Mike Tyson (Boxing)

Former boxer Mike Tyson reacts as he speaks to the media, before the weigh-in of International Boxing Federation (IBF) World Championship Bout at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, on the outskirts of Beijing, China, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee - RTSFOB8

File image of Mike Tyson. Reuters

In 1986, Mike Tyson held the record for being the youngest boxer to become a WBC, IBF, and WBA champion. During the long career in the ring that followed, he fought in over 100 professional matches, held the heavyweight championship more than once, and earned more than $400 million.

But, in 2003, he lost all his savings and went $27 million in debt due to his reckless spending and was forced to file for bankruptcy even while he was still a professional boxer.

3. Bjorn Borg (Tennis)

File image of Bjorn Borg

File image of Bjorn Borg. Reuters

Retirement at the age of 26, five French Opens, six Wimbledon championships and one epic rivalry with John McEnroe. Bjorn Borg was the enigma who did everything before calling it quits to try his hand at entrepreneurial ventures.

This is when his luggage and sportswear venture went south, he was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1989.

4. Chris Cairns (Cricket)

Ex-New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns speaks to the press outside Southwark Crown Court in central London on November 30, 2015. A British jury today cleared former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns of perjury charges over match-fixing in Test cricket. After a nine-week trial the jury of seven women and five men at Southwark Crown Court in London found Cairns, 45, not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice. AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / AFP / LEON NEAL

File image of Chris Cairns. AFP

The former New Zealand all-rounder and one of the Wisden Cricketers of the year was one of the most prolific players to have ever turned up for the Blackcaps. In 2006, when he retired from international cricket, Cairns was one of the most celebrated cricketers from New Zealand.

Everything changed when he got involved in match-fixing allegations which was later compounded by perjury charges. In 2014, due to growing legal charges, Chris Cairns was pushed to a corner with financial trouble and he was making ends meet washing bus shelters and doubling up as a truck driver.

5. Jesse Owens (Athletics) 

File image of Jesse Owens. AFP

File image of Jesse Owens. AFP

The track and field athlete, who won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and in an act of defiance, refused to shake hands with the German Dictator Adolf Hitler had his financial misfortunes too. His entrepreneurial enterprises, the first of which was the Jesse Owens Dry Cleaning Company was in debt after about a year and in 1939 Owens filed for personal bankruptcy. He also owed money to the Internal Revenue Service for failing to pay taxes on income earned after the Berlin Olympics.

6. Evander Holyfield (Boxing)

Evander Holyfield was paid $34 million for the 'Bite Fight' that was notoriously famous for Mike Tyson's antic of biting off a part of Holyfield's ear. He earned more than $560 million during his long boxing career, which included six heavyweight titles. But, fathering 11 children with nine different women and maintenance of his 54,000-square-foot Atlanta mansion, forced him to auction all of his boxing memorabilia — including the gloves, boots and robe from the Bite Fight— to pay millions in legal fees and overdue child support.

7. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario​ (Tennis)

The former French Open champion sued her family for squandering her fortunes and using it for their financial benefits and leaving her in the lurch. The tennis star’s problems first came to light at the end of her professional career in 2003, when she was ordered to pay €5.2 million for tax fraud.

8. Dennis Rodman (Basketball)

Five-time champion and two-time All-Star Dennis Rodman made a name for himself not only through his play, but his larger than life, and controversial personality. Having last played in 2006 for the Brighton Bears and again in 2014 in a “basketball diplomacy” game in North Korea, Rodman has lost millions of dollars and faces possible legal action for North Korean trips. He allegedly owed more than $800k in child support and $50k in spousal support.


Published Date: Jun 22, 2017 06:53 pm | Updated Date: Jun 22, 2017 07:57 pm


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