10 Most Epic Fistfights In Political History


Photo via theibtaurisblog.com

Earlier this month, Congress avoided a financial meltdown by passing the “fiscal cliff” bill. Negotiations were incredibly tense, especially when House Speaker John Boehner reportedly told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to “go f*** yourself.”

Of course, no blood was shed (just Boehner’s tears) because America actually has one of the most civil governing bodies in world history. Politicians across the globe and throughout time have often let their fists–or any available blunt objects–do the debating for them.

1. Iraq’s Parliament

The U.S. was supposed to bring democracy to Iraq, but–judging from a November 2008 session of the Iraqi parliament–the results were mixed. A lawmaker who opposed a security pact tried to rip the agreement out of another lawmaker’s hands, and their fists started flying until other members intervened.

2. Ukraine’s Parliament

In 2010, Ukrainian leaders’ many rivalries reached a boiling point when debate over a bill–which allowed Russia to keep its naval fleet in the Black Sea–erupted with a shower of flying eggs, chairs and fists. Surely, no vodka was involved.

3. Italy’s Parliament

In 2011, one of Italy’s parliamentary deputies made a sarcastic comment about another member’s wife, setting off a massive partisan brawl. At least two deputies tried to strangle each other, possibly with al dente spaghetti.

4. The U.S. Senate

When we told you that America has a relatively civil governing body, we meant today. Back in 1856, during a debate over slavery, South Carolina Senator Preston Brooks used a large stick as his personal “Majority Whip” against Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner. Specifically, Brooks smashed Sumner in the skull with a metal cane as the other members looked away in horror, until Sumner had to be carried off the floor.

5. The U.S. House Of Representatives

Just like the Senate, the House once resembled an MMA cage match. In 1805, representatives Joseph H. Nicholson and Nicholas Leib took it outside (to the lobby) after Leib called Nicholson “a liar.” Seventeen minutes and 64 rounds later, Leib’s bloody body finally dropped.

6. The U.S. House Of Representatives… Again

It’s hard to top a bare-knuckle boxing match that lasted longer than most heavyweight championship bouts, but if the U.S. House of Representatives is good at one thing, it’s reaching a new low. In 1861, a mob of at least 50 representatives beat each other to a pulp over Kansas’s pro-slavery constitution.

7. Bolivia’s Congress

During a vote to bring charges against President Evo Morales, Bolivian leaders threw cups of water in each other’s faces–right before smashing each other with chairs and tables.

8. The Alabama State Senate

Did this 2007 disagreement between a Republican and a Democrat have to end with riot police and smoke bombs? No… but it’s Alabama, so yes. (The state’s official pastime is unscheduled fistfights fueled by Pabst Blue Ribbon.) Both men later apologized for their actions, but gave conflicting stories about what caused the fight.

9. Somalia’s Parliament

Somalian leaders have a long history of fighting in their hallowed halls of government. A fight last year was particularly brutal and bloody. Some members who didn’t like the choice for speaker expressed their disdain by throwing punches and chairs and eventually stabbing each other with pens.

10. India’s State Assembly

Who would’ve thought that a nation of peace-loving Hindus and Christians would excel at political ass-kicking? India’s assembly rioted in 1989 over a civil rights bill. Members punched each other in the face until their fists were sore, and turned anything that wasn’t nailed down–including desks, files and microphone stands–into weapons. Several leaders and innocent bystanders left the building covered in blood. What did Gandhi say about “an eye for an eye” again?

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Danny Gallagher (@thisisdannyg) is a humorist and associate editor at sidemission.com