Once upon a time tattoos were for drop outs and Hells Angels, but recently our sporting heroes have been become increasingly inked up. Swide chooses some the best:
As one of the biggest names in sport he was also one of the first to go to extremes inking his body. Becks’ tattoos map his body with his experiences and in some ways it was he that made it acceptable for footballers and athletes to cover their arms in tats. He has so much text on his body he reads like a book. He has the names of his sons Romeo, Cruz and Brooklyn as well as the name of his wife Victoria in Hindi. He also has ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, that shepards among the lillies’, in Hebrew from the Bible. Other religious references include a picture of Jesus and a ‘winged cross’ on his back.
Kevin Prince Boateng
Milan’s Prince Boateng is also king ok ink at the San Siro. He has Africa on his chest and tribal patterns on his left shoulder, Chinese characters on his right flank. He tattooed his club AC Milan’s insignia on himself when they won the Scudetta in 2011 and most recently added a spider web onto his left knee, a knee that has caused him trouble in the past and he has nicknamed himself ‘Spiderman Boateng’. He has 26 tattoos and if he keeps going, he’s going to run out of skin to ink.
The Chelsea and Spain forward my have a squeaky clean image but he has been steadily adding to his tattoo collection over the years. He is a fan of the gothic script tattoo and has his name in Tengwar, a Tolkien language (Lord of the Rings). On his right arm he has the number 9, reference to his shirt number with Spain and previously Atletico Madrid. On his right shin the roman numerals VII VII MMI (07/07/2001) feature but he hasn’t revealed the significance of this date.
Chelsea’s and Portuguesse midfielder Raul Meireles is one of the most tattooed players in the premiership. He has a huge red and black Chinese-style dragon on his back as well as pictures of his wife Ivone and his daughter Lara. He also has a necklace tattoo with a skull, surprisingly badass for such a nice guy.
Natasha Kai is an American forward who plays for women’s soccer team Philadelphia Independence, not only could she hold her own with the men her on the pitch, but she kicks most of their asses in the ink stakes too with over 55 tattoos. Left and right sleeves, both legs, hands, feet, back, chest front, sides and neck. She appeared on the television show LA Ink.
Sergio Ramos has been a defensive mainstay in the Spain and Real Madrid sides while also managing to become one of Spain’s more divisive footballers. Always passionate about representing his country the Spaniard is also vocal about his loyalty to Madrid and his hatred of their Catalunian rivals. Both he and his brother share the same wristband tattoo, on his left inner arm is “JM VII P”. “JM” and “P” are his parents’ initials. “VII” is his lucky number. On his left bicep also in English: “Lies in the memory of those alive”. It also contains the dates 9-11 and 3-11, the dates of the terrorist attacks on New York and Madrid. Among the many others is also a Star of David on his right bicep.
The Amercan NBA Hall of Famer Rodman is also known as the ‘Godfather of NBA Tattoos’. His body is covered in tats with two large bulls on his chest and extensive tribal patterning on his lower torso. The giant sun on his right arm is probably his most famous while there are many that are small and obscure and are difficult to make out.
Not the most inked-up player in the NBA, but definitely one of the best. He kept his tattoos simple with the names of his daughters Natalia Diamante and Gianna Maria-Onore and another of his wife Vanessa with a crown and the words of Psalm XVII to represent her importance. Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce back in December but since then it seems they’ve been working hard at working things out. So, for now, the tattoo remains.
Sonny Bill Williams
All Black centre and offloading sensation Williams is also New Zealand’s Heavyweight Boxing Champion and the most googled rugby player in New Zealand. His sleeve tattoo down his right arm represents his Samoan heritage, he also has ‘Williams’ across his back.
The Somoans do tattoos like no others and World Cup-winning All Black lock forward Jerome Kaino has an impressive sleeve representative of his heritage. "My one is pretty special to me ... It depicts where I come from and who my family is. It's a design from my village [in birthplace American Samoa]”, he said when asked about it.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty