In darts, you are nothing unless you have a nickname and a flamboyant shirt for the crowd to cheer, as you storm down the aisle towards the oche.
Down through the years, there have some players whose nicknames have become so popular that often they have superseded the player’s real name.
Here are some of the best nicknames that darts players have been honoured or blighted by, as well as those from other sports, where an alter ego is every bit as important to those who play them at the highest level.
A darting nickname can often define a player’s approach to a game
More than any other sport, darts has always been one in which players are known as much for their darting personas and nicknames as they are for their skills on the board.
Indeed Darts501.com keeps an extensive list of nicknames of all the players currently operating on professional tours, so fans can stay up to date on who is called what.
While some darts nicknames are simple enough to understand – like The Power for the best player ever to throw tungsten and Barney for a Dutchman whose demeanour matched that of his namesake Barney Rubble – there are others with some interesting stories behind them.
First off there’s Andy ‘The Pie Man’ Smith who loves nothing more than tucking into a pastry or two after a long game. Then there is Brendan ‘History Maker’ Dolan, who was the first man to ever hit a nine-darter in front of the live television cameras.
Last but not least there are the wacky names that no self-respecting world championship contender would accept, like Mark ‘Frosty the Snow Man’ Frost.
Some of these nicknames hit the bullseye, and others really don’t
If there is a sport that rivals darts for high-quality nicknames, then it is probably poker, a sport in which your image is important, as it can sometimes help you intimidate and bluff your opponents. What makes things even more interesting is that many nicknames these days start out online, in the form of usernames, as online gamers come up with a screen-name to play under. With some such as Isildur and durrr being more recognizable to many fans than the real names of the respective players.
However, the best monikers are still reserved for those live tournament grinders such as Mike “The Mouth” Matusow or Howard “The Professor” Lederer, their table personas instantly revealed by the names given to them.
Nicknames are not as widespread in snooker as they are in poker or darts, but when one does stick with a player, it tends to capture the imagination of the entire UK population.
One perfect example of this is The Rocket Ronnie O’Sullivan, whose nickname derives from the speed at which he plays but also his sometimes fiery and erratic personality. Another player who played with a similar style and flair to The Rocket was Hurricane Higgins, whose first name, Alex, was replaced forever with Hurricane due to the rapid manner with which he built century breaks.
Other wonderful names to have graced the professional snooker circuit are Steve ‘The Ginger Magician’ Davis and Stephen ‘The Merlin of Milton’ Maguire.
The final sport on our list is boxing, which has always specialized in hyping athletes by giving them outlandish names.
Some of these are a sleek use of a boxer’s name, like GGG, whereas others are far more elaborate, such as Samuel ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ Peter.
There are even some boxers who change their nickname multiple times during their career. Floyd Mayweather is a good example of this, having been called Pretty Boy, Money and most recently TBE (The Best Ever). However, that title still undoubtedly rests with the late great Muhammad Ali, who to this day is still known as simply The Greatest.