Since the start of 20th century “sports” has become such big part of everyone’s life and as all the major sports grew with live TV coverage after the world war II we witnessed some of the greatest athletes who dominated their respective sports. Today we take a look at 10 of the greatest athletes who left a mark in their sport which will be remember for centuries to come.
Some of the athletes mentioned below either dominated their sport with sheer talent and ability or took all the limelight with their charismatic personalities. We try to put together a list with 1 name from every major sport. But because football is such a popular sport worldwide and with such vast history we ended up putting more than name from the beautiful game.
#1. MUHAMMAD ALI (Boxing)
Widely known as “The Greatest” and rightly so, Muhammad Ali rose to incredible fame back in 1964 when he defeated champion Sonny Liston to win heavyweight title at the age of just 22 and rest as they say became history. He dominated a very competitive heavyweight division in that era with his sheer boxing ability and selling the fight the way only he could do. However his career was never a smooth ride, he was stripped of his boxing license for not drafting in US Army but he came back stronger and won the title for record three times before finally hanging up his gloves after unnecessary later part of his career.
Ali dominated boxing and US sports in general during the era when live TV was getting its way into american culture. He has such a big role in defining not only Boxing but other sports as well how we perceive them today. I have not doubt in my mind that if Muhammad Ali were to exist in todays social media era he will be by far the most followed person on internet.
#2. MICHAEL JORDAN (Basketball)
Many came before and after Michael Jordan but none could achieve what Jordan did in his illustrious basketball career winning 6 championships with Chicago Bulls. That Jordan era pretty much defined NBA and paved the way for generations to come. He has all sort scoring records and widely regarded as the greatest NBA player of all times. But apart from just absolute superb performances on the court he was also one of the very first global sports start whos marketing potential was unmatched till to this day. Even way after his retirement he still possess the most lucrative endorsement deal in sports history.
#3. LIONEL MESSI & CRISTIANO RONALDO (Football)
unlike the other sports or athletes mentioned above both Ronaldo and Messi has dominated world’s most popular sport for last 10 years. Its hard to pick who better of the two as its such a unique rivalry where they needed each other to push the limit of their football abilities. Both have won everything there is to be won in club football. From team trophies to individual awards. If one is better in one category the other comes on top in another. As we speak both Ronaldo and Messi are the highest paid footballers in the world and probably two of the most marketable athletes in the world. Here is a comprehensive Ronaldo vs Messi comparison which shows it will be unfair to pick one player to represent football.
#4. MICHAEL PHELPS (Swimming)
No athlete apart from Michael Phelps has ever gone into double digits as far as gold medals are concerned in history of olympics. Phelps though won staggering 23 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals making him the most decorated Olympian of all times. Known as “Flying Fish” Phelps participated in three Olympic games and absolute dominated water sports in his entire career.
#5. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Formula 1)
Another legendary figure not only in Formula 1 and motosports but sports in general. Michael Schumacher won two back to back titles with F1 team “Benetton” before he joined Ferrari where he dominated the sport winning 5 consecutive world titles from 2000 to 2004. He is the most successful F1 driver of all times and widely regarded as the greatest in F1 history.
#6. JACK NICKLAUS (Golf)
Also known as “The Golden Bear”, Jack Nicklaus is the most successful golf player of all times having won 18 major championships. Even Tiger Woods could not come close to his haul of incredible 18 major titles which makes him the greatest Golfer of all times. He also put golf on the world stage and during his career he became the highest paid athlete in the world.
#7. SIR DONALD BRADMAN (Cricket)
Mostly referred to as DON Bradman, he was an Australian cricketer who is undisputed regraded as the greatest batsman in cricket history. He ended his career at astonishing average of 99.94 which is equivalent of scoring a hattrick in every football game. He was the very first super start in cricket and helped Australia dominated England in test cricket throughout his career.
#8. USAIN BOLT (Running/Sprinting)
Another great Olympian of this era, Usain Bolt has won 9 Olympic gold medals in running/sprinting which is one of the oldest and most competitive sport in Olympic history. Not only he dominated olympic games outside of it he has been absolute beast in world championships and of course the marketing front.
Comparing his with Michale Phelps will be unfair as Phels has the luxury of more disciplines in water sports while Usain Bolt only compete in sprint related events and his 9 Gold Medals are benchmark for future generations.
#9. ROGER FEDERER (Tennis)
Federer won record 17 grand slam titles in his illustrious career and pretty much carried the sport of Tennis in early 2000’s. He also earned the most disclosed career earings of any individual sport having earned over $100 million in prize money over the course of his career. His rivalry with Rafael Nadal was something tennis will unlikely to see for quite sometime. Their 2008 Wimbledon final was most watched individual sport event in history and also regarded as greatest tennis match of all times.
#10. VALENTINO ROSSI (MotoGP)
When it comes to MotoGP there is one name you can not overlook and thats Valentino Rossi who won 7 MotoGP titles and pretty much carried the sport on his shoulders for best part of his peak career. He still going strong and just finished runners up twice in MotoGP championships in 2015 and 2016. His name consistantly appeared on highest paid athletes in the world lists. Rossi is also considered by most MotoGP fans as greatest rider of all times.
#11. JAHANGIR KHAN (Squash)
Now there is hardly anyone who comes close to what Jahangir Khan has achieved in his professional career in sport of squash. He won World open title record 6 times and also won British open 10 times making him the most successful squash player of all time. He has a unique record to his name where he went unbeaten from 1981 to 1986 and won 555 consecutive professional matches. This record is also in Guinness World Records. Overall he is considered undisputed greatest player of all times in squash.