Sport has always been an important part of human civilization. It existed in one way or another since the dawn of time, but it was the ancient Greeks who honed the art of competition, training, and spectacle. Athletes considered it to be a way of life and means of leaving a legacy. For spectators, it was all about entertainment.
Not much changed to this day, except for the greatness of the events and the recognition of athletes involved. There’s hasn’t been a better time in history for showcasing ability and skill, winning numerous awards, and setting new world records.
And while we are excited about the future, we decided to briefly look back into the past and compile a list of the greatest male athletes in sports history. Scroll down to enjoy the list and let us know do you agree with our picks or whether we skipped someone.
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50. Rod Laver
Rodney Laver is a former Australian tennis player who dominated the sport during the ‘60s and ‘70s. He was the No.1 ranked professional tennis player in the world from 1964 to 1970. Laver played before and during the Open Era and excelled on all court surfaces, winning a record 200 singles titles.
Laver’s accomplishments include a record of 10 or more men’s titles per year, for seven consecutive years. During his magnificent career, he won 11 Grand Slam singles titles, eight Pro Slam Titles, and contributed to five Davis Cup titles for Australia.
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49. Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders is a former professional football and baseball player who currently works as a sports analyst. Having played 14 consecutive seasons in the NFL, he is regarded as one of the best football players of all time. Popularly known as “Prime Time” or “Neon Deion,” he is widely recognized as one of the most skilled pass defenders to play the game. Over the course of his career, he earned eight Pro Bowls appearances and managed to win two Super Bowls.
In addition to his excellent football career, he was also a part-time baseball player. He played nine seasons in the MLB as an outfielder and is currently the only athlete to appear in both the Super Bowl and the World Series.
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48. Shaun White
Shaun Roger White is an American professional snowboarder and skateboarder who started his incredible career at the age of six. Many describe his passion for winter sports as reckless yet effective.
Nicknamed “The Flying Tomato,” he holds the record for most X-Games and Olympic gold medals in snowboarding. In addition to this, he won 10 ESPYs (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award).
White is a close friend of Tony Hawk, who started mentoring him when he was 9. His skateboarding career is equally impressive, and he won numerous accolades in this sport as well, including the overall title of Action Sports Tour Champion.
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47. Tony Hawk
Tony Hawk is one of the pioneers of modern vertical skateboarding. His professional journey started at the age of 14, and during his legendary career, he won over 60 first places and gold medals. He was crowned the National Skateboard Association World Champion for 12 consecutive years.
In 1999, Hawk was the first skateboarder to complete and land a 900-aerial spin. This marvelous trick marked the end of his career, and he retired in 2003. He still holds the record of the highest-paid extreme sport athlete.
Hawk is the owner of the skateboard company Birdhouse and currently pursues an acting career.
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46. Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi is an Italian motorcycle racer and a living legend in the MotoGP. He’s by far the most successful racer of all time, with nine Grand Prix World Championships to his name. He is also the only racer to have competed in 400 or more Grands Prix.
Rossi is still active, even at the age of 40, so the numbers can only go up. He achieved most of his success on the Yamaha motorcycles, and he never changed his legendary number 46. Out of respect for his skill and records, he’s been nicknamed “The Doctor.”
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45. Anderson Silva
Anderson da Silva is a Brazilian-American MMA fighter known for his stand-up fighting style. He owns numerous offensive striking records and has the best dodging percentage in UFC.
Silva’s striking accuracy and knockout power made him the longest time titleholder in UFC history with 2,457 days. This translates to an impressive seven years as reigning champion, during which he also set a record of 16 consecutive victories. Due to his achievements, he’s often regarded as the best MMA fighter of all time.
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44. Gordie Howe
Gordon Howe was a professional ice hockey player who played in the NHL for a staggering 26 seasons. He still holds the record for most games and seasons played. In addition, he played six seasons in the WHA.
Known for his scoring prowess and physical strength, Howe is considered the most complete player ever. Nicknamed “Mr. Hockey,” he was an NHL All-Star 23 times while winning the Stanley Cup four times and holding six Hart and Art Ross trophies.
In 2008 he became the first player to receive the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award. One of his legacies is a “Gordie Howe hat trick,” a feat involving a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.
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43. Bobby Orr
Canada’s Robert Orr is a former hockey player, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. Orr completely revolutionized the position of defenseman and was known for his ice-skating speed, excellent scoring skills, and playmaking abilities.
Orr spent 12 years in the NHL, setting some impressive records along the way. He remains the only defenseman who won the league scoring title while also winning two Art Ross trophies. Additionally, he holds the record for most points and assists in a single season by a defenseman.
He is the winner of a record eight consecutive Norris Trophies for NHL’s best defenseman and three consecutive Hart Trophies as the league’s MVP. At the age of 31, Orr was the youngest hockey player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
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42. Rafael Nadal
Rafa Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked No.1 in men’s singles.
The King of Clay started his career at the age of eight, when he won the under-12 regional tennis championship. This marked the beginning of his legendary rise, which led to 19 Grand Slam singles titles, 35 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, 20 ATP 500 titles, and an Olympic gold medal.
Nadal is known for an aggressive playstyle, speedy footwork, and tenacious court coverage. He is the youngest male tennis player to achieve the singles Career Grand Slam.
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41. Walter Payton
Walter Payton was a running back for the Chicago Bears during his 13 seasons in the NFL. Once a name feared across all NFL stadiums, Payton is a nine-time Pro Bowl honoree and a Super Bowl winner.
Payton set numerous records for career rushing yards, touchdowns, and all-purpose yards during his time as a pro. He was known for being a prolific rusher but was also capable in the passing game. When he retired in 1987 he had the most reception by a non-receiver and had eight touchdown passes.
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40. Jesse Owens
James “Jesse” Owens was an American track and field athlete who specialized in sprints and long jump. He set three world records in a span of 45 minutes, which is often described as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports history.
Owens became famous for winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. He dominated the 100 m, 200 m, long jump, and the 4 x 100 meters relay. He single-handedly crushed the white supremacy of the Nazi regime and become a heroic figure among the black population. The Jesse Owens Award is given to the best USA Track and Field athlete and is the highest accolade in the sport.
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39. Bill Shoemaker
Bill Shoemaker was an American jockey legend and an undisputed champion of this sport. He won his first race at the age of 18 and went on to spend another staggering 41 years riding horses.
With 8,833 overall wins, he held the world record for 29 years until he was finally beaten by Laffit Pincay Jr. He won every major North American race, including five wins at Belmont, four Kentucky Derby wins, two Preakness twins, and the Breeder’s Cup Classic.
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38. Jim Thorpe
James Thorpe was an American athlete and the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal for the United States. Thorpe was born in the Sac and Fox Nation and attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where he played amateur football. He displayed his agility, strength, and speed on the field and was selected to represent the US in the 1912 Olympics. He won a gold medal and set a record in the decathlon.
After the Olympics, he signed with the New York Giants while playing baseball at the same time. Because of his athleticism and ability shown in all sports, he is frequently mentioned as one of the greatest athletes in the world.
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37. Jackie Robinson
Jack Robinson played as second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers for 10 years in the MLB. He broke several records and won numerous awards, but is best known for being the first African American to play professional baseball. Before Dodgers signed him in 1947, all black players were sent to a different league.
Robinson became a heroic figure and paved the way for future African American baseball players and athletes. Jackie Robinson won the Rookie of the Year Award, a World Series championship, and was an All-Star for six consecutive seasons. He holds the honor of being the only professional athlete whose jersey number was retired across all major teams.
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36. Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders played as a running back for the Detroit Lions for 10 seasons. He was known for his agility and quickness, which established him as one of the most elusive runners in the NFL.
During his decade in the NFL, he made it to the Pro Bowl each season and was NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice. He led the league in rushing yards four times. Unfortunately, he never played at the Super Bowl and is widely regarded as the best player who never graced this event.
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35. Pete Sampras
Pete Sampras dominated the tennis courts during the ’90s. He was known for a very precise and powerful serve, which earned him the nickname “Pistol Pete.” He won 14 Grand Slam singles titles and 64 singles titles overall. He held the No. 1 position for 286 weeks and set the record for six consecutive year-end No. 1 rankings.
His rivalry with Andre Agassi was called the greatest of the generation. Their tennis matches were some of the most viewed events in the history of sports.
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34. Ingemar Stenmark
Jan Ingemar Stenmark is a former Swedish alpine ski racer. He is the most prominent slalom and giant slalom specialist of all time.
Stenmark has 86 World Cup wins and, at 4,06 seconds, still holds the biggest win-margin in a World Cup alpine race. He earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1979, and a year later, he won a gold medal in the giant slalom at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Being one of the most successful athletes in the world didn’t change his attitude. He still remained humble and very grounded.
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33. Jim Brown
Jim Brown is a former football player who currently works as a sports analyst. He spent his entire professional career playing as a fullback for Cleveland Browns. He was a Pro Bowler every season of his career, won the AP NFL MVP three times and was crowned NFL champion once.
During his career, Brown set numerous records for carried ball, rushing yards and touchdowns. He averaged 104.3 rushing yards per game and is the only player in the NFL history to average over 100 rushing yards per game for his career. With 5.2, he’s the second-best when it comes to yards per carry and is constantly ranked among the best football players of all time.
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32. Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is a retired German Formula One driver, who is considered to be the best in the history of the sport. He spent most of his career with Ferrari, and this partnership resulted in more than a decade of excellence in the sport.
He’s the only driver in history to win seven Formula One World Championships, five of which were won consecutively. Additionally, he holds the record for most Grand Prix wins with 91, most fastest-laps with 77, and most races won in a single season with 13.
According to the official Formula One website, Schumacher is statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen. In 2013, he suffered a traumatic brain injury after a skiing accident and is currently in rehabilitation.
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31. Jack Nicklaus
Whenever people talk about golf, the name Jack Nicklaus is bound to show up. He is considered to be one of the greatest professional golfers of all time.
During his long career, he competed in 164 major tournaments, which is more than any other golfer. He has 73 PGA tour victories and was the first player to win the Masters Tournament two years running.
At the age of 26, Nicklaus was the youngest golfer to win all four golf majors. Subsequently, he was also the oldest golfer to win Masters at the age of 46. After his professional retirement, he joined the Senior PGA Tour and dominated in 10 tournaments.
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30. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal is a retired basketball player who currently works as a sports analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA. Standing at 7’1” and weighing over 325 pounds, he was one of the most dominant players to ever grace the game. His massive physical stature gave him a power advantage over most opponents.
O’Neal spent 19 seasons in the NBA and played for six different teams. He achieved his biggest success with the LA Lakers, where he won three consecutive NBA titles. He won one more with Miami Heat.
Shaq is one of three players to have won the NBA MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Finals MVP award in the same year.
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29. Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning is a former quarterback who spent 18 seasons in the NFL, playing for the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. He is considered to be one of the greatest players on this position thanks to his numerous achievements.
During his tenure as Colts’ quarterback, he won eight division championships, two AFC championships, and one Super Bowl. He also won one Lombardi trophy with the Broncos.
Payton set numerous individual NFL records, including number of AP MVP awards, Pro Bowl appearances, single-season passing yards, and numerous other. His visionary passing and impeccable leadership ability earned him the nickname “The Sheriff.”
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28. Bill Russell
William Bill Russell is a retired basketball player who played as a center for the Boston Celtics for 13 years. His height of 6’10” and a massive wingspan of 7’4” made him very dominant in shot-blocking, man-to-man defense, and rebounds.
Russell was one of the key components of the Celtics’ domination in the ’60s. This five-time NBA MVP, 12-time All-Star, and Olympic gold medalist won 11 NBA championships with the Celtics, which made him a record holder for most championships won by an athlete in North American sports league.
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27. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a name well-known to all boxing and non-boxing fans across the world. During his prime, Mayweather held multiple world titles in five weight classes and the lineal championship in four weight classes. He is one of few boxers who retired undefeated with a stunning 50 wins.
Mayweather set numerous records, including the most consecutive wins in world title fights and most wins in lineal title fights. He is often regarded as the most accurate puncher in the history of the sport, which helped him dominate the welterweight division.
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26. Diego Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona is a retired soccer player, currently working as a manager at Gimnasia de La Plata. Maradona’s vision, passing, ball control, and dribbling skills made him one of the greatest players of all time. His small stature allowed him to maneuver around other players, often dribbling past multiple opposing players on the run. He was the first player to set the world record transfer fee twice.
With Argentina, Maradona won the 1986 World Cup alongside the Golden Ball.
Besides his numerous achievements and accolades, he became famous for two goals against England. First was the infamous “Hand of God” and the second involved him dribbling five England players over the course of 66 yards, which was voted as the Goal of the Century.
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25. Joe Montana
Joseph Joe Montana is a former football player who played 16 seasons as a quarterback in the NFL. He spent most of his career with the San Francisco 49ers, with whom he won four Super Bowls. In the process, he became the first player to be named Super Bowl MVP three times.
Montana also holds numerous other records, including the most Super Bowl passes without an interception with 122 and had the all-time highest passer rating of 127.8 at one point. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times.
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24. Carl Lewis
Carl Lewis is a former track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals and eight World Championship gold medals. Overall, he has over 20 medals in all competitions.
During his prime, Lewis was a dominant sprinter and long jumper who was always at the top of the rankings in 100 m, 200 m, and long jumps. He set numerous world records in 100 m, 4 x 100 meters, and 4 x 200 meters relays. His record in the indoor long jump set in 1984 is still unbeaten. His 65 consecutive long jump victories remain one of the sport’s longest undefeated streaks.
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23. Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice played as a wide receiver in the NFL for 20 years, primarily for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a leader in most major statistical categories for a wide receiver, which is why he’s widely regarded as the best player to ever play in this position. He set numerous records for receptions, touchdown receptions, and receiving yards. He’s also been selected to the Pro Bowl 13 times and named All-Pro 12 times.
Overall, Rice holds over 100 NFL records which is more than any other player. He won three Super Bowls with the 49ers.
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22. Lawrence Taylor
Lawrence Taylor is widely considered to be the best defensive player in the NFL history and is regularly in the conversation for the best football player of all time. He spent 12 years playing as a linebacker for the New York Giants, being the only player who won AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in his rookie season. Additionally, he cemented his legacy by setting the record for most AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
Weighing 238 pounds, he was a destructive force at the back, usually credited with changing defensive game plans, pass-rushing schemes, and offensive line blocking schemes. Taylor was a crucial part of the Giants’ in the ’80s and ’90s, and won two Super Bowls.
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21. Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron, nicknamed the “Hammer,” is a retired MLB right fielder who spent his MLB career playing for Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers. For 33 years, Aaron held the record for most career home runs and still holds the record for most seasons as an All-Star and most All-Star Game selections.
Aaron is one of two players to have hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least 15 times and is tied with two other players for most All-Star Games played. With a batting average of .305, he retired as one of the best hitters in the MLB history.
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20. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a former basketball player who spent 20 seasons in the NBA, playing for only two teams. He won his first championship with Milwaukee Bucks and five additional NBA championships with the LA Lakers.
He became famous for his trademark skyhook shot, which often led him to being the top scorer in the league. What made his shot even more powerful is the ability to shoot with both hands. This made defending against the shot almost impossible. He remains the all-time leader in points scored, and career wins.
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19. Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson is considered one of the best boxers of all time. When he turned pro, he became the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title. Additionally, he was the first heavyweight boxer to simultaneously hold the WBA, WBC and IBF titles.
As he entered his prime, Tyson became known for his ferocious and intimidating boxing style. He was constantly ranked among the hardest and strongest punchers in the world, earning him the nickname “Iron Mike.” Unfortunately, his explosive temperament led to some major controversies both inside and outside of the ring.
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18. Leo Messi
Lionel Messi is an Argentinian soccer player who plays as a forward for FC Barcelona and Argentina’s national team. He’s also the captain of both teams and the holder of numerous international and club records. Known as a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, his playstyle is often compared to the legendary Diego Maradona.
Messi won a record six Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Shoe awards. He spent his entire professional career in FC Barcelona, where he won a club record of 34 trophies. He also holds the record for most goals in Spain’s La Liga with 433, most hat-tricks in La Liga with 35, most assists in La Liga with 174, most hat-tricks in UEFA Champions League with and has scored a total of 717 goals.
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17. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese soccer player, currently playing for the Italian club Juventus. Ronaldo is known for his speed, agility, stamina, and dribbling skills. He is a prolific striker, which helped him win four European Golden Shoes for most goals scored in a single season. He has won five Ballons d’Or, making him second on the all-time list after Lionel Messi.
Overall, Ronaldo won 29 trophies in his career and is leading on the list of most goals scored in the UEFA Champions League with 128 goals. In total, he scored 738 goals, which makes him the 5th highest scoring player in the history of the sport. Off the pitch, he’s one of the most marketable athletes and is constantly ranked among the top 10 most influential people in the world.
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16. Bo Jackson
Vincent Bo Jackson is a former football and baseball player and the only athlete to be named an All-Star in both sports. He played as a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and an outfielder for Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, and California Angels.
Unfortunately, a hip injury slowed down and shortened both of his careers. Nonetheless, Jackson’s name is one of few that reached out well beyond sports. His athleticism made him a very popular figure for major sporting brands around the world, most famously Nike.
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15. Willie Mays
Willie Mays is definitely one of the greatest baseball players of all time. He spent an impressive 22 seasons as a center fielder in MLB, playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.
This World Series champion holds the record for most All-Star Games played and most outfield putouts. He ended his legendary career with a batting average of .302 and 660 home runs. Many sports analysts call Mays the most complete athlete in the world due to his longevity in a game that is considered to be very physically demanding.
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14. Marcel Hirscher
Marcel Hirscher is an Austrian former alpine ski racer and a record holder of eight consecutive World Cup titles. In addition, he won 11 medals at the Alpine Skiing World Championships, seven of which were gold.
Hirscher spent the majority of his career completely dominating the sport before deciding to retire at the age of 30. Due to this kind of excellence in such a short period of time, he is widely considered to be the best alpine skier in history.
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13. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest players basketball has ever seen. He spent the majority of his career playing as a center for Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors and later on, Los Angeles Lakers.
Chamberlain’s dominant height and weight made him a fearsome opponent on the court and helped him set numerous NBA records. Among them are all-time career rebound and minutes per game average, as well as most points averaged in a single season. But his biggest legacy is scoring 100 points in a single NBA game, a feat which no other player came even close to accomplishing.
His successful career led to two NBA championships, four MVP Awards, and 10 All-NBA selections.
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12. Tiger Woods
Eldrick “Tiger” Woods is an American professional golfer, tied for the first place in most PGA Tour wins and second in men’s major championships.
Setting numerous golf records and dominating the sport made him one of the most famous athletes in the world. Being the youngest golfer to achieve the career Grand Slam, Woods also set the record for most PGA Player of the Year awards with 11 and Byron Nelson Awards with eight.
He held the No.1 position for 683 weeks, which is more than any other golfer in the history of the sport. All of his achievements secured him unbelievable sporting brand deals, which also made him one of the wealthiest athletes in the world.
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11. Sugar Ray Robinson
Sugar Ray Robinson, born Walker Smith Jr., was an American professional boxer in the welterweight and middleweight division. His outstanding performances are the main reason why the sports analysts created the “pound for pound” rankings, where fighters are compared regardless of the weight.
As an amateur, he had an incredible score of 85-0, which brought him to the world spotlight. He turned pro at the age of 19 and went on a 91-fight unbeaten streak, which is the third-longest in history of professional boxing. He became the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times and was named Fighter of the Year twice.
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10. Roger Federer
Roger Federer might not be as dominant as he once was, but during his prime, he set some amazing records. He won 20 Grand Slam titles, which is the most titles won by a male player. He also held the No. 1 position for 310 weeks, 237 of which were consecutive, making him a record holder in this regard. Additionally, he was the year-end No. 1 for five times, four of which were consecutive.
Federer’s all-court game and versatile style with exceptional footwork and shot-making also secured him a record of six ATP Finals titles, 28 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, and 24 ATP Tour 500 titles.
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Edson Arantes do Nascimento, simply known as Pele, is a retired Brazilian soccer player who has been voted as the World Player of the Century. Playing as a forward, he’s the most successful domestic league goal scorer with 650 goals in 694 matches. He has a total of 1281 goals in 1363 games, which is a Guinness World Record.
Pele started his career with Santos FC at the age of 15, where he became the club’s record goal scorer. He then proceeded to win three FIFA World Cups; a feat never accomplished by any other player.
In Brazil, he’s hailed as a national hero but his spectacular goalscoring abilities and outstanding skills on the pitch made him an international star.
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8. Wayne Gretzky
Wayne Gretzky is by far the greatest ice hockey player in the world. The Canadian held 61 NHL records at the time of his retirement. He is the leading scorer and assister in the NHL history and the only player to total over 200 points in one season. He tallied over 100 points in 16 seasons, 14 of which were consecutive. In addition, he won a total of four Stanley Cups.
Gretzky is considered to be the most intelligent player in the history of the sport, with impeccable ability to read the game, anticipate the movement of the puck, and improvise on the go. He was very creative and spontaneous, which made stopping him a very difficult job.
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7. Babe Ruth
George Herman “Babe” Ruth was a legendary baseball player who spent 22 seasons in the MLB. He began his pro career as a pitcher for Boston Red Sox, but his greatest achievements came with the New York Yankees where he played as an outfielder.
Ruth became a baseball institution, establishing many MLB batting and pitching records. His slugging percentage of .690 and on-base plus slugging of 1.164 still stand to this day. He is seen as one of the greatest sports heroes in the US and was elected in the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of the first five players. Ruth was a seven-time World Series champion, two-time All-Star and 12-time AL home run leader, among his numerous other achievements.
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6. LeBron James
LeBron James is often compared to NBA legend Michael Jordan, which is a great accomplishment in itself. Both Jordan and James are in the mix for the best basketball player of all time.
James won three NBA championships, four NBA MVP Awards, three NBA Finals MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals. He is the all-time leader in NBA playoffs points scored and a record holder for selection to the All-NBA First Team with 12.
He played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, and is currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Off the court, he’s equally successful. He accumulated wealth and fame from numerous endorsement contracts and is ranked as one of the most influential athletes in the world. Aged 35, many predict he still has a lot more to show.
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5. Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt is a former Jamaican sprinter and a world record holder in 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4 x 100 meters relay. An eight-time Olympic gold medalist, Bolt is considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He’s the only sprinter to win the Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles on three consecutive Olympics. He has broken the 100 m and 200 m world record twice, earning himself the nickname “Lightning Bolt.”
Bolt is an 11-time World Champion and has helped Jamaica to three 4 x 100 meters relay world records. Being the fastest man in the world secured him numerous awards and lucrative marketing deals, making him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
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4. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is a former American competitive swimmer and the most decorated Olympian of all time. He won a total of 28 medals i five Olympic Games, 23 of which were gold. During his career, he broke over 40 world records and won 82 medals overall.
Most of his records and medals have been set and won before the age of 30, an achievement never accomplished by any other swimmer in the world. Phelps’ record-breaking performances have made him more successful than swimmers from 161 countries and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest athletes in the world.
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3. Tom Brady
Tom Brady is an American football quarterback who spent his entire career with the New England Patriots. Still playing, even at the age of 42, Brady has won six Super Bowls during his time in the NFL, which is more than any other player in the history of the league.
He also holds the record for most Super Bowl MVP Awards with four in total and is the oldest player to have won the award. Brady also shares the first place for most Pro Bowl selections and is the all-time best in career passing yards and touchdown passes.
He’s also the only quarterback to reach 200 regular-season wins. All of his achievements led to him being named the greatest quarterback of all time.
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2. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is considered by many as the greatest basketball player of all time. He was instrumental in popularizing the NBA in the 1980s and 1990s, in an era where soccer players led in global fame and popularity.
The 14-times NBA All-Star has won six championships with Chicago Bulls, six NBA Finals MVP Awards, five MVP Awards, and two Olympic gold medals, among numerous other achievements and accolades.
His leaping abilities earned him the nickname “Air Jordan” and his jumping silhouette became an iconic logo for numerous sports brands around the world. He is both a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and FIBA Hall of Fame inductee.
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1. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is undoubtedly the greatest and most famous boxer of all time and the leading heavyweight champion of the 20th century. His unorthodox boxing style and record-breaking achievements earned him the nickname “The Greatest.” He won an Olympic gold medal at the age of 18 and won his first world championship against Sonny Liston at the age of 22.
Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches and feuds with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, which were dubbed the greatest sporting events in the world.
His colorful personality, political activism, struggle against racism, and injustice have made him a hero among the African American population. Ali’s civil rights movement made him bigger than the sport itself.
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