Darts’ Biggest Bust-Ups | Part 2

Shergar

Until February, 1983, Shergar was best known as a champion racehorse. Owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Shergar enjoyed a hugely successful three-year-old campaign, in which he won the Derby, by an unprecedented ten lengths, Irish Derby and King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes. At the end of his racing career, in October, 1981, Shergar was syndicated for £10 million and sent to stand at Ballymany Stud, in Co. Kildare, Ireland.

However, less than two years later, on the evening of February 8, 1983, Shergar was abducted, along with Jim Fitzgerald, head groom at Ballymany Stud, by a group of armed, masked men and driven away in a horsebox. Fitzgerald was eventually released, four hours later and twenty miles or so away from Ballymany, but warned, upon pain of death, not to contact the Gardaí. Fitzgerald did contact stud manager Ghislain Drion who, in turn, attempted to contact the Aga Khan. It was not until eight hours after the event that the kidnapping was reported to the police service, by which time Shergar was long gone.

British horse racing journalists Derek Thompson, John Oaksey and Peter Campling were called in, at the behest of the kidnappers, to conduct ransom negotiations. However, a series of polaroid photographs of the head of a horse, alongside a copy of the ‘Irish News’, dated February 11, proved insufficient ‘proof of life’ for the owners. In any event, four days after the abduction, the kidnappers made a final telephone call, including the code phrase ‘King Neptune’ – which had earlier been given to Jim Fitzgerald – to inform negotiators that Shergar had died ‘in an accident’.

The only certainties are that Shergar was never seen alive again, his body has never been recovered and no arrests have ever been made in relation to his abduction. His fate remains an abiding mystery, subject to speculation and conjecture. The consensus, though, is that Shergar was kidnapped by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and machine gunned in a stable near Ballinamore in Co. Leitrim after injuring himself.

Most Humiliating Goals That SHOCKED The World

‘Fan Man’

The boxing history books record that Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield II, a world heavyweight championship rematch staged at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas on November 6, 1993, resulted in an uninspiring points win for Holyfield. However, the bout will always be remembered, not for its outcome, but rather for its interruption, during the seventh round, by the unscheduled arrival of 30-year-old James Miller, a.k.a. ‘Fan Man’.

Propelled by a motorised parasail or, in other words, a powered paraglider, Miller reportedly circled several times before crashing onto the apron of the ring. The suspension lines of his parachute caught in the overhead lights, as a result of which he fell, or was dragged, backwards into the crowd, where he was promptly set upon by security staff and spectators and beaten unconscious. Indeed, Miller later quipped, “It was a heavyweight fight, and I was the only guy who got knocked out.”

In any event, the contest was suspended for twenty-one minutes while the parachute was untangled and, meanwhile, Miller was rushed to hospital. His injuries were only superficial and he was subsequently jailed, briefly, charged with dangerous flying and released on $200 bail. Miller claimed he had landed in the ring by accident, although footage from the circling ESPN blimp strongly suggested otherwise and, at the time, refused to say why he had done so; it was later revealed that his stunt was a personal protest against violence. Whatever his motivation, the ‘Fan Man’ incident was selected as Event of the Year by American boxing magazine ‘The Ring’.

Sadly, deeply indebted as a result of medical bills resulting from coronary artery disease, with which he was diagnosed in 2001, Miller disappeared from his home in Alaska in September, 2002. His body was found, six months later, by bear hunters on the remote Resurrection Pass Trail, on the Kenai Peninsula, just south of Anchorage, where he had committed suicide.