...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Alex Higgins, a two-time world champion snooker player, was notorious for his controversial behavior both on and off the table.
Higgins, who died in 2010 at the age of 61, was often seen smoking and drinking heavily, using cocaine and cannabis regularly, and struggling with a gambling addiction.
He reportedly spent the majority of his £4 million career earnings in pubs and nightclubs.
Talent and Success Despite Controversy Despite his wild behavior, Higgins was a talented player who became the first qualifier to win the World Championship at just 22 years old in 1972.
He won the championship again in 1982, as well as the UK Championship, two Masters titles, and the World Cup three times during his career.
He was known for his ability to pot under pressure during matches, as demonstrated in his victory over Ray Reardon in the 1982 World Championship.
“The People’s Champion” Higgins was a fan favorite, earning the nickname “The People’s Champion” for his portrayal of a working-class, anti-establishment figure who played with freedom and charisma.
However, his success was not without controversy, and he often made headlines for his wild behavior both on and off the table.
Controversial Behavior In 1990, Higgins threatened to have teammate Dennis Taylor shot following clashes at the World Cup, and at the World Championships that year, he punched a press officer and announced his retirement from professional play.
He was subsequently handed a one-year ban and stripped of all his ranking points.
In 1986, he had been suspended from five tournaments and fined £12,000 for headbutting a WPBSA official after being asked to take a drugs test.
Controversy Continued Even after retiring, Higgins continued to cause controversy.
In 1991, he referred to the black ball as “Muhammad Ali” during the World Trickshot Championship.
In 1996, he was convicted of assaulting a 14-year-old, and in 1997, he was stabbed three times during a domestic dispute with his girlfriend Holly Haise.
Legacy and Honors Despite his controversial behavior, Higgins remains a legend in the snooker world.
The Northern Ireland Open has been named after him since 2016, and players compete for the Alex Higgins Trophy.
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