Greatest Athletes of all time: Let’s explore together a list of the greatest sportsmen of all time. It’s a delicate task because the idea of the “greatest sportsman” can be very personal for each of us. It could be based on factors like their impressive achievements, the number of records they hold, their influence in the game, and even beyond sports. Perhaps it’s a combination of all these elements.
Over the years, there have been athletes who have surpassed the expectations of an average player and have been recognized as truly exceptional in their respective sports. Great athletes can be found in any sport, and they come from diverse backgrounds. They have accomplished incredible things. Whether you’re a fan of football, tennis, basketball, or any other sport, our list of the greatest sportsmen of all time is sure to evoke strong reactions.
Greatest Athletes of all time
In this article, we will discuss the greatest athletes of all time. We will explore their remarkable achievements and contributions in various sports.
20. Mike Tyson
Kicking off our ranking of the greatest athletes of all time is boxing King, Mike Tyson. He, also known as Iron Mike, was an incredibly dominant boxer during the 1990s. He possessed extraordinary punching power and was known for his aggressive fighting style. Tyson achieved the status of undisputed heavyweight champion of the world at a certain point in his career and is widely recognized as one of the all-time greats in boxing.
However, Tyson’s career was not without controversy. He gained notoriety for an incident in which he bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight. This incident is remembered as a significant moment in his career. Due to his immense talent and impact in the boxing world, Mike Tyson holds a place among the top 20 greatest athletes of all time. His ferocious skills and memorable moments in the ring have contributed to his lasting legacy.
19. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. He has achieved remarkable success in the world of tennis. Djokovic holds numerous records and has consistently performed at an exceptional level throughout his career.
Throughout his career, Djokovic has won a total of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, the most by any male player. His Grand Slam victories include 10 Australian Open titles, 7 Wimbledon titles, and 4 US Open titles. Djokovic has also won the French Open 3 time. Novak Djokovic’s remarkable achievements and contributions to the sport of tennis undoubtedly make him a strong contender for the title of Greatest Athletes of all time.
18. Carl Lewis
Carl Lewis is a remarkable athlete who has achieved great success in the Olympics. He has won a total of nine gold medals, with eight of them earned in individual events. What makes him even more special is that he excelled in both sprinting, specifically the 100m and 200m races, and the long jump. In fact, he is considered one of the greatest long jumpers in history.
One incredible fact about Carl Lewis is that he remained undefeated in long jump competitions for over 10 years, spanning more than 60 events. He also holds the world indoor record for the long jump. Additionally, he joins the prestigious company of only two other Olympians, Jesse Owens, and Michael Phelps, as one of the three athletes to have won four gold medals in a single Olympic Games. Due to his outstanding athletic achievements, Carl Lewis was rightfully inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, further solidifying his status as a legendary athlete.
17. Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar is often regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time, particularly in the realm of cricket. He has left an indelible mark on the sport and achieved extraordinary success throughout his career.
Tendulkar’s achievements are truly exceptional. He holds numerous records in cricket, including being the highest run-scorer in international cricket history. He is the highest run-scorer in international cricket, with over 34,000 runs across all formats, including Tests, One Day Internationals (ODIs), and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is). He also holds the record for the most centuries in international cricket, with 100 centuries (51 in Tests and 49 in ODIs).
16. Lebron James
LeBron James is a basketball player from the United States who is very well-known. He has played for teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers. He has won four NBA championships and two gold medals in the Olympic Games. He has also been named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the regular season four times.
LeBron James is the highest scorer in the history of basketball, surprising Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as being the highest scorer in the history of basketball. People consider LeBron James to be one of the greatest basketball players ever, second only to Michael Jordan.
15. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the best soccer players ever. He has achieved incredible feats in his football career and holds remarkable records. He is the second player in history to score over 100 international goals, and he is the first European player to reach this milestone. It’s no surprise that Ronaldo is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.
He has achieved success in club football, particularly with Manchester United and Real Madrid, as well as in international competitions representing Portugal. Ronaldo has won numerous titles in his career.
14. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is an American golfer who is really famous. He is considered one of the best golfers ever. Woods has won 15 major championships, which is the second-highest number in history, with only Jack Nicklaus having won more.
He has also received many other awards and honors for his golfing skills. However, he made headlines off the golf course in 2009 when he was involved in a car accident, which became a big deal because he had previously been in the news for having an affair.
13. Steffi Graf
With an exceptional career, Graf has earned the distinction of winning 22 major singles titles, the second-highest number in the Open Era for women. Her versatility is truly remarkable, as she is the only player to have secured at least 4 titles in every major tournament, showcasing her proficiency on different surfaces.
Graf’s achievements extend further as she remains the sole player to have accomplished a calendar Grand Slam, capturing all four major titles in a single year. Additionally, she held the world number 1 ranking for a record-breaking 377 weeks, highlighting her dominance in the sport. Steffi Graf’s remarkable success, versatility, and longevity in tennis firmly place her at the 13 spots on our list as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Her impact on the sport and her enduring legacy continues to inspire future generations.
12. Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher left an indelible mark on the world of Formula 1 with his remarkable career. His achievements include an impressive 96 race victories and 68 pole positions. Notably, he holds the unique distinction of being the only driver to finish in the top three in every race of a season.
Schumacher’s impact extended far beyond the realm of Formula 1, establishing him as one of the greatest sportsmen in Germany. His accomplishments as a racing driver, including seven world champion titles with five consecutive wins, set him apart in the world of motorsports. Schumacher’s influence and aura transcend the confines of Formula 1, solidifying his status as one of the greatest athletes of all time. His extraordinary career and accomplishments serve as a testament to his exceptional talent and dedication to the sport.
11. Serena Williams
Entering the list in 11th place, we have an extraordinary sportswoman, Serena Williams. Regarded as the greatest tennis player of the Open era, Williams has not only achieved remarkable success but also become an inspiration to many, particularly young aspiring athletes. Her impact on the sport is immense.
Williams holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles during the Open era, with an incredible 23 victories. This record encompasses both men’s and women’s tournaments. In 2019, she stood out as the only woman among the highest-paid athletes in the world, further exemplifying her dominance and influence. Serena Williams’ remarkable achievements and her significant contribution to tennis have firmly established her as an icon in the sporting realm, making her a deserving inclusion in the top 20 of the greatest athletes of all time.
10. Rafael Nadal
Continuing our list, we have another remarkable representative from the world of tennis, Rafael Nadal. Nadal holds the record for the second most Grand Slam victories by a male player, with an impressive tally of 22 titles to his name, including a remarkable 14 triumphs at Roland-Garros. His record stands as one of the finest in the history of not just tennis but all sports.
Nadal achieved a career Grand Slam, meaning he won each of the four major tournaments, at a remarkably young age of just 24. In addition to his Grand Slam accomplishments, he also secured a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, further showcasing his exceptional abilities. These achievements and contributions to the sport firmly establish Rafael Nadal’s rightful place in the top 10 of the greatest athletes of all time.
9. Tom Brady
Moving further up our list of the greatest athletes in history, we encounter the iconic figure of Tom Brady. Renowned for his illustrious career with the New England Patriots, Brady has achieved a remarkable feat by winning 7 Super Bowls out of 10 appearances, setting a record that stands unmatched.
While quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino have been revered as the initial stars of American Football, Brady surpasses them all and continues to shine as the true superstar of the game. His achievements and impact have not only solidified his status as a legendary quarterback but have also played a significant role in popularizing the sport of American Football beyond the shores of the United States. Tom Brady’s influence and stardom are set to endure for the foreseeable future.
8. Roger Federer
Completing our list of the greatest sportsmen in history is the legendary tennis player, Roger Federer. While it’s true that Nadal and Djokovic may eventually surpass Federer in terms of records, there is an undeniable aura surrounding Federer that sets him apart. He has brought a level of elegance to the sport that is rarely witnessed.
Federer’s career, spanning over 20 years, has been defined by his captivating rivalry with players like Nadal and Djokovic. This rivalry has added an enthralling dynamic to the world of tennis, captivating fans worldwide. Federer’s grace on the court and his enduring presence have left an indelible mark on the sport, ensuring his place among the greatest tennis players of all time.
7. Wayne Gretsky
Securing the 7th position on our list is Wayne Gretzky, an ice hockey player hailing from Canada. Gretzky showcased his extraordinary skills while representing teams such as the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and New York Rangers. Widely acclaimed as the greatest hockey player of all time, Gretzky’s legacy is unparalleled.
His remarkable achievements include holding or sharing an astonishing 61 NHL records. Among them are the most goals (894), assists (1,963), and points (2,857) in the league’s history. Such outstanding performances rightfully earned Gretzky a well-deserved induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999. His impact on the sport of ice hockey remains an inspiration for aspiring athletes around the world.
6. Lionel Messi
In our esteemed list of the top 20 greatest sports figures of all time, we must include Lionel Messi, who is widely recognized as one of the greatest footballers in history. His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo is legendary and needs no introduction. Similar to his rival, Messi has achieved incredible success both at the club level with Barcelona and representing his national team.
With numerous accolades to his name, Messi has won nearly everything in club football and international competitions, with the exception of the World Cup. He has been awarded the prestigious European Golden Shoe six times and has an impressive collection of eight Ballon d’Or titles, solidifying his status as one of the greatest footballers of all time. In Argentina, Messi earned him the status of a second god in the country’s football legacy. His legendary status is firmly established and shows no signs of fading away.
5. Usain Bolt
It is impossible to overlook Usain Bolt when assembling the list of the greatest athletes of all time. The Jamaican track and field superstar is widely regarded as the greatest sprinter in history. His achievements speak for themselves, as he has secured an impressive total of nine Olympic gold medals. Among these, he has claimed three in the prestigious 100-meter event, three in the 200 meters, and two in the 4×100 meters relay.
Bolt’s greatness extends even further, as he currently holds the world records in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100 meters relay. These records stand as a testament to his exceptional speed and athleticism. One can only wonder if, and when, these extraordinary records will be surpassed in the future. Usain Bolt’s remarkable accomplishments have solidified his place among the all-time sporting legends.
4. Michael Phelps
We cannot overlook the remarkable achievements of Michael Phelps, who could rightfully claim a spot on the podium of the greatest athletes. He holds the title of the most decorated Olympian in history, having won an astounding 28 Olympic medals, 23 of which are gold. Additionally, he has earned 26 gold medals in world championships, solidifying his status as one of the greatest sports figures of all time.
Phelps’ extraordinary performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won 8 gold medals in 8 races, will forever be remembered as one of the most incredible displays of athleticism in the history of sports. His outstanding accomplishments and dominance in the swimming world truly place him among the legends of the sporting realm.
We now honor the greatest soccer player of all time, who holds an extraordinary record of scoring 1,281 goals in 1,363 appearances. He achieved the remarkable feat of winning three World Cups, although he was unfortunately injured and couldn’t complete the 1962 tournament.
This exceptional athlete has become a shining star in the world’s most popular sport. It is only fitting to place him on our podium of the greatest sports figures of all time, as he truly embodies the essence of a legendary football player.
2. Muhammad Ali
Introducing the greatest boxer of all time, Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali after embracing Islam at 22 years old. Ali achieved an incredible feat by becoming the first triple-world boxing champion. His legendary fights against Joe Frazier and George Foreman are forever remembered as some of the greatest moments in sports history.
Ali was not only known for his boxing prowess but also for his strong political and social activism. He courageously opposed the Vietnam War and actively spoke out against it. His actions outside the boxing ring made a significant impact and further contributed to his status as an iconic figure.
1. Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best athlete of all time. He achieved great success in basketball, winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls and earning numerous awards like Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. He also made the NBA extremely popular and brought it to new heights.
Aside from his basketball accomplishments, Jordan has ventured into business and owns impressive ventures like the Jordan brand, which is worth more than $3 billion. He is also the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets. His influence extends beyond basketball, and he is considered not just the greatest basketball player ever, but also the greatest athlete overall.