Eastbourne tennis player Johanna Konta has been nominated to win the inaugural ‘Sportsperson with a Personality Award’ today, the first award designed to celebrate sportsmen and women for their personalities, rather than just their talent.
The final shortlist was selected by ex-Wimbledon and Chelsea legend Dennis Wise and features some of the best-loved names in sport – alongside some more controversial choices – after award sponsors kwiff surveyed thousands of customers to compile a longlist.
In order to feature on the list, the sporting stars had to meet the following criteria; An entertainer, not just an athlete. Has surprised fans by going above and beyond modern athlete expectations. Has demonstrated charm, charisma and ability to break the overly media-trained mould. Has transcended sport – can be appreciated by the wider public.
Tennis – Johanna Konta
She’s tenacious on the court, but it’s her fight off it that gets Johanna Konta on the list. Be it gender equality or shoddy umpiring, Johanna slams injustice as hard as a cross-court forehand.
Boxing – Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury should be celebrating two massive victories this year, but while one was denied by the scorecards, his conquering and publicising of mental health issues was a unanimous victory. He may have been denied the WBC belt, but with everything else he’s achieved this year – he’s the undisputed ‘People’s Champion.’
Football - Peter Crouch
He might be a Championship player now, but his banter has remained Premier League. Open, self-depreciating and very, very funny ‘Crouchy’s’ podcast has shone a light on just how much of a great bloke he is.
Boxing – KSI
Sportsperson? Maybe. Personality? Definitely. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but his bout against Logan Paul was YouTube’s biggest ever sporting event. Loud, brash and packing a punch – does he get your vote?
Football – Alex Scott
A legend as a player and in this summer’s World Cup, she proved she’s a legendary pundit in the making too. Well informed, likeable and by definition a game-changer, Alex Scott is a pioneer for personality as well as women’s sport.
Football – Harry Redknapp
He’s been a football hero in the dugout for years and now thanks to the jungle, he’s a national treasure too. What’s more, he even showed he can survive without Niko Krancjar. Come on ‘Arry!
Boxing – Tony Bellew
He lost his farewell fight, but his humble, grateful, down-to-Earth approach made Tony Bellew one of the most popular British boxers of this era. He loves his city, he loves his fans and, I believe he’s mentioned them a few times, he loves his wife and kids too.
Golf – Tommy Fleetwood
What do the Ryder Cup and Tommy Fleetwood have in common? They both make golf fun and for that alone, he’s got to be in the running. In all seriousness, his ‘bromance’ with Molinari lit up the tournament this year - he’s a hole-in-one of a kind.
Paralympian – Hannah Cockroft
She’s gone from track star to tractors on Countryfile, caused giggles on The Last Leg and she’s a sporting legend too. Hannah Cockroft’s funny, warm and friendly persona has taken her to a new level of entertainer.
Football – Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin’s on the list for saying what we’ve always known – refereeing can kill the game. His supercharged rant was something all football fans, from all clubs, could relate to and broke the boring football interview mould. My ex-colleagues at Wimbledon and Chelsea would be proud.
Rugby Union – James Haskell
Put bluntly, the bloke is hilarious. Unfortunately injured for most of 2018, the upside was more of ‘The Hask’ on social media and be it winding up his other half, or taking the pistachio out of his own punditry, he’s proper nuts in all the right ways.
As well as the honour of winning the inaugural ‘Sportsperson with a Personality Award 2018’ crown, the winner will also receive £5,000 to be donated to a charity of their choosing.
The eventual winner will be decided exclusively by a public vote, with the winner announced on 13th December 2018. To enter your vote, head to www.kwiff.com/swapa - voting closes at 23.59 on 12th December 2018.
Speaking as he announced the inaugural shortlist, Dennis Wise commented: “As someone who played alongside Vinny Jones and John Fashanu in a team that saw off the likes of Peter Beardsley and Alan Hanson, I’ve seen how impactful personality can be, so I’m really looking forward to seeing who the public respond to.
“As sportspeople it’s always important to remember that while you are undeniably in a results business, you are in the entertainment business too. You don’t need to win every accolade within your sport to be seen as a champion of the people, which epitomises what this award is all about. We’re after people who don’t just win medals and trophies, but hearts and minds.”
Daniel Skold, CMO of kwiff, the sponsors of the inaugural Sportsperson with a Personality Award 2018 added: “Football is the most obvious example, but the increased professionalism in all sports has created a disconnect between everyday sportspeople and everyday people.
“As fans, we don’t just want victory, we want entertainment too. The sportspeople on this list do just that. They kick the status quo into touch, drive boredom into the rough and massacre sporting monotony. At kwiff we supercharge the betting experience, these are the guys and girls who supercharge their sport, taking good to great via their personalities.
“Be it via their general character, good humour or relatability, we are proud to sponsor the first awards which seek to truly recognise personality and not just those who have won everything. Johanna Konta is a perfect candidate for our shortlist and we fully expect her fans to back her.”