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The Strangest Sports Personality Of The Year Award Winners Ever

By Conor Neville
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The most pompous sporting award ceremony of them all is still generating loud debates.

With the nomination of Tyson Fury evidently offending a large number of people, it appears unlikely that the World Heavyweight champion will win the big one this year or any other year.

Fury is himself downbeat about his chances.

'They won't let me win it. I'm too controversial and outspoken', he said recently. BBC presenter Clive Myrie preferred to think that Tyson had scuppered his own chances by virtue of being too much of a 'dickhead', a verdict he decided to broadcast live on television.

Fury is keen to make clear his indifference to the animus against him, saying he had no interest in winning Sports Personality of the Year and insisting that he was secure in the knowledge that his little finger contained more personality than the rest of the nominees combined.

Fury's belligerence notwithstanding, his attitude to the Sports Personality of the Year farrago is sound. The whole business is a sham.

A perusal of past Sports Personality of the Years reveals that the British public have picked some odd winners.


Princess Anne (1971)

George Best was in particularly scintillating form during the early part of the 1971-72 season, banging in hat-tricks galore and scoring some of his most spectacular goals.

He made to make do with the runner-up spot thanks to Princess Anne's achievement of winning an individual event at the European championships in Burghley (Lincolnshire) while also being a member of the Royal family.

David Beckham (2001)

Beckham won the Sports Personality of the Year in 2001 largely on the back of his last minute free kick against Greece which automatically qualified England for the World Cup.


One would have thought Michael Owen, the winner of the European Footballer of the Year that year, would have been a more worthy shout but the British public disagreed.

Critically, one recalls that Michael Owen hit his best form earlier in the year. That probably cost him come December.


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Zara Phillips (2006)

The daughter of Princess Anne. In fairness, she did well in winning the Eventing World Championship in Aachen. It wasn't a vintage year for British sport. Darren Clarke finished runner-up for this role in the Ryder Cup win in the wake of his personal bereavement.

Zara was bowled over by the award. She found the whole thing 'amazing' to be precise.

Nigel Mansell (1986) and Damon Hill (1994)

A glance down the roll of honour confirms that the British public really loves racing drivers.


Or rather, the combination of the British public's short memory and the fact that the Formula One world championship is decided shortly before the voting takes place means that Formula One guys are well placed to reap the benefits on SPOTY night.

Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill each won one Formula One drivers championship but two Sports Personality of the Year awards.

At a loss for more compelling candidates, Mansell won the big one first in 1986, despite the fact that his car blew up in the final lap in the final race of the season costing him the World Drivers Championship.


Meanwhile, Hill beat all opposition in 1994, despite not doing so on the track. Despite having an inferior car, Michael Schumacher managed to pip Hill to the Drivers' Championship, albeit in controversial circumstances.


Greg Rusedski (1997)

Back in the pre-Andy Murray days. The UK had fallen so far in the tennis stakes that they were grateful for any half decent performance. Fast serving Canadian Greg Rusedski angered his countrymen by switching his allegiance to Britain in the mid-1990s.


Two years later, he mounted a decent challenge in Wimbledon, reaching the quarter-finals. That same year, he reached the US Open final where he was beaten by Pat Rafter.


Barry McGuigan (1985)

There was nothing strange about Barry McGuigan winning the Sports Personality of the Year award in 1985. He richly deserved high honours after his world championship victory over Eusebio Pedroza.

However, he isn't British. McGuigan is the only Sports Personality of the Year winner to come from outside England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Read more: Time Person Of The Year Award Debate Reminds Us Of A Great Irish Snubbing

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