Tennis Prose



When Dick Stockton Punched Ilie Nastase On Court

Tracy Austin once said “Tennis is a fistfight without the fists”, but sometimes a tennis match devolves into a fist fight with punches thrown and landed, even in the professional ranks.

One such notable occasion where a pro player did a Mike Tyson imitation happened in the 1980s when Dick Stockton slugged Ilie Nastase during a mixed doubles match.

Brian Sidney Parrot witnessed the dramatic confrontation and willingly shared the details of the one punch episode…

“Nasty vs Stockton.TKO to Stockton with one punch. I know Dickie Stockton doesn’t like this story told but it happened in the semifinals of $100,000 Ford Mixed Doubles Exhibition at Laguna Nigel Racquet Club….owned by the Spearman family. Bob Hockstedder was the head pro at the time. I was brought in from Oregon by Gary Stephenson of Advantage International to run the event. I lined up umpires from San Diego and in Nastase’s first match he was one infraction from being defaulted….in an exhibition! For his Nastase-like behavior. Stephenson asked me to get the umpire to ‘back off’ from defaulting Ilie, since it was an exhibition event. I did….”see if you can get him through this match” was my comment to the umpire (something I would never do in a sanctioned event).”

“The next match was the semifinals…and it was Dick Stockton vs Nastase…Robin White was one of the players and I can’t remember the other girl. Nastase was hitting at Stockton’s partner, making fun of the linesman, and at 5-4 in the second set, on the changeover Stockton had had enough. He went over to Nastase….grabbed him by the shirt and slugged him with a big right hand! I have a picture of the moment captured by a photographer with Nastase’s hair flying. I gave the picture to Coach Dan Magill for his museum at Univeristy of Georgia. A bodybuilder jumped onto the court from the box seats and separated them. Tony Trabert was the next person on the court and tried to calm Stockton down. I remember Dick screaming at the top of his lungs: “SOMEBODY SHOULD HAVE DONE THAT 15 YEARS AGO!!!”

“I was the third one on the court and told the umpire to do whatever he had to. But he didn’t know why Stockton exploded. So we let them finish the match. Stockton and his partner held serve and won the match and crowd of 3,000 had the added feature of a fight to go along with the mixed doubles match. Stephenson asked me not to tell the LA Times (the cover up was on) but my dad tipped off Lisa Dillman, the Times tennis writer at the time. Lisa called Dick for a comment about a month later. It was ’86 or ’87….and Nastase left with black eye and probably behaved better in his next mixed doubles event! All true….Hockstedder and Spearman’s can confirm it happened. I am sure there are other pros that thought about doing the same thing to Nastase before that.”


So there you have it, the exclusive confirmation that boxing punches have played a key componenta in winning a professional tennis match! This story exceeds the previous infamous tennis punch-ups which happened in the privacy of the locker room – Gaston Gaudio punched John McEnroe. Gaston Gaudio slugged Guillermo Coria. Roger Taylor gave Bob Hewitt a knuckle sandwich. Andy Roddick almost beat up Novak Djokovic (US Open locker room attendants broke it up).

Stockton won eight ATP singles titles and reached No. 8 in the world in 1977. He made the semis of French Open in 1978 and Wimbledon in 1974, along with two quarterfinals at US Open.

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  • Todd Robinson · August 5, 2021 at 2:46 pm

    Great stuff!

  • Scoop Malinowski · August 5, 2021 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks Todd, Stockton made tennis history and deserves the credit for it 🙂



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