Greatest Athletes of All Time

This is not a list of the greatest players of all time, although many of the athletes on the list may have been great players. This is a list of the greatest athletes which begs the question, what makes someone a great athlete. For the purpose of this list, athletic greatness is defined as possessing a variety of attributes that contribute to athletic prowess. These include speed, quickness, endurance, power and hand-eye coordination. That is why this list does not include specialized athletes such as marathon runners or bicyclists. While it is clear that Lance Armstrong is a master in his field, he has not proven that he could compete in other sports where more is required than pumping his thighs for hours on end.

Don't agree with the list? Vote for an existing item you think should be ranked higher or if you are a logged in, add a new item for others to vote on or create your own version of this list.

The Top Ten

1
Michael Jordan
There may be a very few human beings that could keep up athletically with MJ (Bo Jackson, Carl Lewis etc. )... There are a very few human beings that might keep up with MJ's skill, coordination, and grace (Kobe Bryant, Zinedine, Roger Federer)... There are even fewer who might be able to match his mental game and competitiveness (Tiger woods, Larry Bird)... But there is no one- NO ONE-who has ever possessed all of these qualities on the level that MJ did. The Greatest Athlete that ever lived... Without a shadow of a doubt... Its Michael Jordan.
MJ is the best! There will never be another Michael Jordan. He is without doubt the greatest athlete of all time!
Mj reinvented basketball. If it wasn't for MJ, many moves, dunks, and styles wouldn't exist
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2Muhammad Ali
He's got more endurance, speed, accuracy, determination, and most importantly heart then any other athlete ever to walk the planet. Defiantly the best all around athlete. PERIOD.
If we were to show another species the strength, courage, love and intelligence that Man has, Muhammad Ali would be Mankind's Representative.
His passion, dedication, confidence, attitude... No doubt The Greatest... He should have been number 1... The Man had it all.. His fellows respected him. What more do you want
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3Roger Federer
To be consistent throughout his career is just astounding. And let's not forget the fact that he was the number one player for 237 weeks consecutively. The fact that he was dethroned after that did not stop him from getting back the top rank as he regained the position from Rafael Nadal and collected a total record of 285 weeks overall.
Roger Federer is Not only one of the best sportsman, but also the most respectful of all... Genuine, humble, passionate, dedicated, consistent and humane...
Federrer is Simply The Best. Both character & as a Tennis Player. He has the techniques to play tennis. He is my favourite. Djorkovic and Nadal are behind him
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4Usain Bolt
Another cool name. And fastest man EVER
I'd suggest that anyone not familiar with track records, especially the 100M, take a look a at what this man has accomplished ( the first to break the 9.7 barrier and a month later the 9.6 barrier) and you'll see why I already place him as the greatest athlete of the century and perhaps all-time. They say he's capable of breaking his current record of 9.58, and if he does look for it to be the eventual longest lasting track and field record ever. I'm headed for bed after reaching #16, but I know one athlete that's not going to be listed, and he may be, as many have argued, the greatest athlete ever; Mikhail Baryshnikov. The same hang-time as M.J. - 0.9. I would list my top three as Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods, and Jim Brown when you consider how great they were compared to the rest of their competition in their prime. In lesser followed sports, there's no doubt that "Lightning" Bolt is #1.
Usain Bolt is the best 200m runner ever hands down, so good he can even dominate the glamour 100m event as well. Loads more gold coming in London 2012.
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5Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is the greatest athlete of all time, as he didn't just win a gold medal in the hardest sport, he did it 8 times over. No other athlete can match his determination, mental preparedness, or physical ability.
Undoubtedly the most amazing swimmer the world has ever seen! He dominates every corner of the sport while clearly showing the world what truly makes an athlete!
39 World Records. 22 Olympic Medals, 18 of them Gold, with 11 of the Gold coming from individual events. He dominated a sport like nobody has ever dominated any sport. 16 years of being the uncontested greatest in the world. He could keep going, but he already has everything locked down.

There is no comparison, because nobody has ever won anything to the degree he has outside of Jordan, and he competed in a team sport.
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6Wayne Gretzky
The "Great One" changed the face of hockey as he brings a new era of speed, skill, and scoring touch into the game. Entered the NHL erasing almost all scoring records he quickly built the Oilers Dynasty with amazing haste. Along with his hockey sensation Gretzky is recognized for his charity work and a strong connection with the game of Hockey.
THE GREAT ONE. Enough said. He holds every important record in hockey. Arguably the toughest sport to play
No player in the history of sports has ever come close to dominating their sport like The Great One
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7Bo Jackson
Bo knows... And he's the greatest athlete ever. Ever argue at the bar over this one? The only thing anyone will ever say to shoot down Bo Jackson is the fact that his career was too short. But length of service is only one thing. His two sport versatility easily compensates for this.

Bo hit 141 hr in 2300 games, which is close to on pace with the likes of Mike Schmidt. That was before the pre 1996 hr derby style baseball too. Imagine a healthy Bo Jackson slugging 50 homers a season and hitting 500 home runs in his career. Would there be any doubt then who was the greatest ever to step on the field? That's not even counting his ridiculous range in the OF.

Oh, and that's just baseball. Hey MJ fans, you want to see athletic dominance? Watch a Bo Jackson football highlight reel. Then tell me he wasn't the best athlete ever. Had he focused on football, and stayed healthy, he'd own Emmit Smith, and Barry Sanders. Every scout agreed that he was THE BEST ever. Speed, power, balance, vision, he was THE BEST. His yards per carry are a testament to that. How about that 6.8 yards per carry average in his rookie year? Again, ridiculous.

One day the sports world will look beyond the numbers in the record books and back on to the field of play to judge performance. That was Bo's playground, and no matter what the game, you know Bo not only could do it, but he'd do it better than anyone else.

Bo is #1 all time.
Not only did he play in two professional sports, but he was a superstar in both. On the baseball diamond, Bo had a career batting average of.250 and hit 141 home runs in just under 694 career games. In 1989 he was selected to the American League All-Star team and went on to win the game's MVP award. And that doesn't count Bo's "hobby" sport. Bo the football player won the Sugar Bowl MVP award, the Liberty Bowl MVP award and then the Heisman Trophy. Then, when he decided to play pro football, he averaged 5.4 yards per carry for his short career and was named to the Pro Bowl team. At one time, Bo was in commercials with Jordan and Gretzky and if it weren't for his career ending hip injury, he would still be regarded as deserving of that type of company.
OH MY GOSH! What is this dude not doing at least at number 5?! Not many can say that they're an outstanding football and baseball player, at professional l level, be amazing (at times) at both, be able to break a bat on your knee, oh and do almost the impossible by running almost completely vertical on the fence, and act like its completely normal! The thing is, I believe he would be #1 no competition if it weren't for that devastating knee injury, that basically just happened cause he was a combine of a unbelievably strong, big, and with a speed that makes you go "what the heck just happened? " Don't even get me started on his arm, getting a ball from the warning track and throwing it- accurate and fast- to home to get an amazing out, with no bounces from the ball! MJ, an outstanding athlete, yes, but did he excel at two sports, a big fat no. For me, an athlete myself, I try to be the best I can be in my sport, and yet struggle to do that in other sports, and sometimes even in my main sport. Bo could've been an amazing baseball player, if he focused hard enough and worked on that batting average, some would say for football the same. The thing is- what other athlete could've done that?
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8Sachin Tendulkar
He is a person who has played under extreme levels of expectations of a billion people of a cricket crazy nation and yet managed to maintain his excellent performances over a period of 22 years and is still going strong. His careers defines modern day cricket. He holds almost every record in the book.
This guy is nothing less than GOD... He has shown me how to live life... And wt is the meaning of passion, hardwork and consistency... I bet... No athlete can ever match his hunger to excel and performing at the same level... Fulfilling his responsibilities in the same manner he had started 22 years back when he began his international career at just age 16.. For all those guys who don't vote for him because you don't know much about him,... At whatever level you adore other athletes in this list... Do learn more about him and I bet, slowly you are gonna fall in love with a true gentleman or even the first look itself...
It is not how best athlete he is, the thing that is awesome about him is how long he remained the best athlete and obviously the best batsman. He is the best batsmen in the history of cricket. He has most number centuries in ODI and test cricket. He has most no of runs in both format of the game. It is his bad luck that cricket is not as famous as football or tennis otherwise he would have been rated as the greatest sportsman.
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9Jim Thorpe
Please, enough of this MJ worship! Greatest Basketball player is an acceptable choice, but this guy has never shown to be proficient at any other sport! He was a minor league baseball flop, still has a laughable handicap in golf and has never been known for lightening speed. Unlike this one sport star, Jim Thorpe, with little expert training or equipment, was voted into the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with the Track & Field Hall of Fame! Thorpe also had no business playing Major League Baseball at first, but learned on the fly and finished with a respectable .252 batting average in 7 part-time seasons. Jim Thorpe was successful in three sports to Jordan's one, doing this as an impoverished ward of the government and enduring untold racial bigotry. No athlete came so far with so little! He's Jim Brown, Jesse Owens and Bo Jackson rolled into one. Hand's down the Greatest Athlete Of All Time!
The greatest athlete ever to come from Lawrence KS (Haskell Indian Jr. college) which is saying something since other mentionables include Wilt Chamberlain, Gayle Sayers, Jim Ryun, Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, John Riggins and others. Local legends of the man still recount tails of him drop kicking balls through the goalpost from the 20 yard line (opposing) into the wind. Winning every event he entered in a track meet after he forgot his shoes. Not to mention being good at anything he tried.
Don't get me wrong, Gretzky, Jordan, Ali, and Phelps are all great at their chosen sport, and each of them could claim the top spot on a list of greatest hockey players, basketball players, greatest boxers, and greatest swimmers of all time. However, if this is a list of all time greatest athletes then Jim Thorpe undeniably takes 1st place. This guy played football, baseball, basketball, competed and won in worldclass athletics competitions, and won two Olympic gold medals in what are arguably the toughest sports contested at the Olympics, the pentathlon and decathlon. To this day we still say the olympic gold medal winner of the men's decathalon is the greatest athlete of the time. The same way we say that the Olympic gold medal winner of the men's 100m race, Ussain Bolt, is the fastest man on earth of the time. No disrespect to the Gretzky's, Jordan's, and Bolt's of the world, but their records will be broken as they broke the records of their predecessors. Thorpe, on the other hand, was a true natural, he could be the definition of "one in a million. " Although he wasn't the greatest at any single sport, no other athlete on this list comes close to his athletic resume and that is why Jim Thorpe is the greatest athlete who ever lived. Finally, I noticed that the list lacks mention of any women?! Come on people, there are some exceptional female athletes out there. Clara Hughs is pretty amazing, competing and winning medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics!
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10Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento)
All-time soccer leading scorer in history with over 1,000 goals in his career, and champion in two world cups with his native country Brazil making him the best soccer player in history over Argentinian astro player Diego Armando Maradona.
I was looking at some of the ones higher then pele and I almost dropped dead. Some I can believe like gretzky and jordan and ali and ruth but woods and federer
Pele has scored 1152 goals in 1220 games that I legendary compared to anybody else on this list he should be number one he is a pure hero to the world and especially Brazilians

egillaxelsson

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The Contenders

11Tiger Woods
Best Athlete by far. Golf is the hardest sport to play because there is no room for error and Tiger dominated the game like no other Athlete has dominated their sport. Anyone who says golf isn't a sport is just arrogant because it takes strength, flexibility, balance, endurance, and TREMENDOUS mental strength. What Tiger Woods has done is just simply amazing.
I know golf isn't as physical as most other sports, but I play golf and know how easy it is to make a mistake. Tiger Woods is the best athlete because of all his accomplishments & is still young and will be achieving even more before he's done. Michael Jordan was great, but his name also gave him extra room with refs and getting away with stuff, not to mention the intimidation he struck into others that guarded him. Tiger has no refs, therefor no miss calls or extra slack from refs because of his star level.

PDP

Michael vick number 10!? You are a complete IDIOT for that one. No rings. No awards. 2 years behind bars. COOL! Ato boldon? Get out of here. Wayne Gretzky? Good, bump him behind woods. Golf is the toughest game... Ever. Tiger has damn near perfected it. Enough SAID.
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12Babe Ruth
Let's be real, people. Until this guy is voted to the top spot then this list should be considered a joke! He was out-homering ENTIRE teams in an era when the ball was more dead than alive! And yes, he could pitch as well. His head to head record against Walter Johnson was 11-1! Are you serious?! And, wrap your brain around this if you can. He did all this while partying like it was 1999 EVERY NIGHT! RUN THAT UP YOUR FLAGPOLE AND SALUTE IT! Enough said.
Made baseball america's national pastime did more for his sport than any other athlete.. This is evident when he hit more homeruns, than entire teams, he and ali are the most recognized athletes in the world, yes he's better than them all he's the best
Not only that but he was one of the greatest pitchers ever. No one ever credits babe for that. He was the best because, he could do both at just a high level, the most highest!
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13Leo Messi
I think Messi should be the world's best athlete for the moment. He has a blend of all footballers rated above him and his best is yet to come. His speed, ball control, and ability to trick and score are 1 of the best seen so far. Plus, his modest and non-arrogant attitude puts him at his best.
He's fast, skilled, and at the top of his sport.
Messi doesn't desreve to be out of the top 10
He has shown his superhuman capabilities time and time again.
Never failing to perform
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14LeBron James
He is 6'9, has the body of an NFL linebacker, runs like a track star, and jumps as high as anyone in the NBA. I wouldn't be surprised if he could compete in any sport at a professional level.

rmoore26

Jordan is the Greatest BB player... But Lebron is the best all round player to ever do it... Pass Magic, score like MJ, Rebound like a PF and defend like Gary Payton... did I mention he can shoot the trey and block a bball as well...?
As far as pure athletic ability, very few can match LeBron. Dude's not the best NBA player of all time, but he the greatest NBA pure athlete of all time.

Real_1985

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15Paavo Nurmi
Nurmi won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928.

Nurmi is also considered the best Olympian of all time.
Best athlete in the Olympic Games ever! He could beat the competitors with just half the energy he had in he's body.
It was a long time ago, but you can't argue the fact that he won the 1500, 5000 and 10000 in the Olympics. Plus he won multiple gold metals throughout three Olympic appearances.
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16Bruce Lee
WHEN YOU SAY WHO IS THE GREATEST ATHLETE OF ALL TIME IT IS BRUCE LEE. WHO ELSE DO KNOW THAT CAN DO 50 ONE ARM PULL UPS IN A ROW WITHOUT STOPING. CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHY MICHAEL JORDAN IS NUMBER 1 WHEN ALL HE IS MOST POPULAR FOR IS DUNKS. KNOW THINK ABOUT IT HE DOESN'T HAVE THE MOST RINGS, THE MOST POINTS AND OTHER MOST EITHER I'M NOT SAYING WHETHER HE IS THE BEST OR NOT I'M JUST SAYING HE MIGHT BE THE BEST ATHLETE IN BASKETBALL BUT NOT EVER. BRUCE LEE NOT ONLY IS BEST ATHLETE BUT THE SMARTEST TO, HIS IQ WHICH IS 200 IS THE HIGHEST OUT OF ALL OF THESE GUYS ON THIS LIST. I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE BRUCE LEE IS NUMBER 16 ON THIS LIST, THIS LIST IS A JOKE. WHO ELSE CAN SEND SOMEONE FAR BACK FROM A ONE INCH PUNCH. Their IS A LOT MORE TO BE SAID BUT MJ REALLY IS AT THE TOP BECAUSE THE NBA IS THE MOST POPULAR SPORT OF THEM ALL, JUST LOOK AT THE VIDEO GAME SELLING FOR NBA. MJ COULD BARELY DUNK FROM THE ENTIRE FREE THROW LINE AND IS YOU GO YOUTUBE AND SEE SERGE IBAKA HE IS THE ON NBA PLAYER WHO REALLY DUNKED FROM BEHIND THE FREE LINE AND IF YOUR TALKING ABOUT THE GREATEST ATHLETE MJ COULD NOT EVEN DUNK FROM BEHIND THE FREE THROW LINE (SOME ATHLETE). BRUCE LEE DID AMAZING THINGS AND HAD CRAZY SPEED AND STRENGTH FOR A MAN WHO WAS ONLY 5-7 AND 128 POUNDS. HE IS THE REASON SLOW MOTION WAS INVENTED AND WHO ELSE DO YOU KNOW THAT CAN DO 2 FINGER PUSH UPS. SO I REST MY CAST BRUCE LEE IS THE G.O.A. T ATHLETE. (AND THE SMARTEST).
Bruce lee is superhumanly fast, he's also extremely strong and powerful. He was one of the most committed and determined athletes to ever live. He is easily the most influential martial art master of all time.
He is the greatest athlete that has ever lived fast and furious, strong both mentally and physically. Now you better add him in the list or I will kill you all.
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17Manny Pacquiao
Manny should be the greatest athlete of all time because he is the most well-rounded champion and person. He's a 10 time champion in 8 different weight divisions in his profession. He's always humble with his achievements. He's charismatic on both a professional and personal level. He's always entertaining and exciting. He always think of those whom are less fortunate in life and always uses his successes to directly help better those people and everyone around him. Other athletes maybe leaders, champions or icon of their respective team or sports, but Manny is a leader and icon for a nation and the less fortunate of the world. Manny is the "true" champion of the people. This is what differentiates Manny from the rest of all those other champions.
He deserve to be one of the greatest.. In fact boxing is not an easy sport compare with others... You must have passion for it and a desire to win not only for the money and fame but for the pride of your country... Imagine this... His heart and mind is so strong... That's what you call passion
Widely recognized as one of boxing greats and not only in sports but also in various achievements like politics, as a humanitarian and as a singer etc.
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18Donald Bradman
Bradman owns! Statistically he stands so far above everyone else that it is impossible for him not to be the number 1. List is biased against sports not popular in America... Also took a year off cricket once and won the South Australian open squash tournament.
Sir Donald Bradman the greatest cricketer of all time in the toughest sport of all time in one of the toughest periods on earth of all time. Batting Average of 99.94.06 from being perfect that's why he is the greatest to be that close to being perfect is an amazing feat.
It is crazy how biased these results are to American sports. Don Bradman is the only athlete ever to be statisically twice as good as as the rest of his time! And even decades later the next best averages are around 40% lower. And for your info Americans, India alone makes cricket a higher played sport than your American basketball, baseball and nfl. Not too mention the other 100's of millions in the other commonwealth countries. Bottom line is if you did your research you would find it hard to argue against bradman, whose hand-eye coordination is so far ahead of ANYONE else ever to have lived, including federer. And if you were going to argue against bradman, it could only be with bruce lee, as as a purely physical specimen no one can match him. He would have kicked ali's arse in a boxing match blindfolded, and you know it
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19Rafael Nadal
At the age of 24 he accomplished more than any one of that age... His speed endurance stamina statistics are all factors to him being the best athlete of all time in my humble opinion. Mark my words because in 15-20 years we will all remember how nadal rocked the world of tennis
RAFA doesn't have the strongest, fastest hit but the reason why he's winnin' tough matches is because of his incredibly fast and athletic legs. He even has time to overrun the backhand.! And it's because of his unbelievable great moving around the court! He's a fantastic athlete and he should be much better 30 on this stupid list
One of the most toughest athletes of all time in every aspect. He is one of the fittest athletes ever and has the mental toughnes of someone like Sachin Tendulkar or Michael Jordan. No matter what situation he is in, he always never gives up and usually comes out the other side well. He is as tough as an ox!
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20Wilt Chamberlain
The NBA was a different game at the time, but Wilt's numbers are still staggering. You know most of them but you may not be aware of his endurance as evidenced by his record career average of 45.8 minutes per game (and you thought I was going to use the number 20,000). Also, don't forget that Chamberlain ran track and recorded a sub 11 second 100-yard dash in high school.
Take the 5 best years of all these folks careers and then tell me Chamberlain wasn't the greatest ever. No one, no one ever dominated their sport like he did, with the possible exception of Ruth.
Although I am a huge Kobe fan, I refuse to let Wilt Chamberlain not be in the top 5, much less 25. How many other 7 footers have you heard of that were one of the best high jumpers in the country. He was a dominant volleyball and basketball player, and he participated in many track and field events. In the NBA no one could guard him, because his athleticism mad him ungaurdible.
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21Bobby Orr
Watching this guy was an event. I have yet to see a hockey player enhance this game like this man did. Today our kids play this game with superior skates/equipment than dreamed of at that time. Still watch his acceleration, his puck control.
Watching Bobby Orr on an end-to-end rush was a sight to behold. He even won the scoring title one year, as a defenseman! I can't think of any comparable feat in any sport. Bobby Orr revolutionized the game of hockey. He had the artistry of Roger Federer and the grit and toughness of Rafael Nadal. As a Montreal Canadiens fan, I've seen a lot of great players, going back to Rocket Richard. None could compare with Bobby Orr.
Hockey is not watched by many people, relatively speaking so Bobby Orr went unoticed outside the world of hockey. He was a remarkable athlete and did more on one leg than Gretzky did on two. I expect he could have played any sport with the same dominance. Highly underrated (and unknown) by most so-called idiot sports fans.
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22Michael Johnson
Clearly the greatest all around athlete of all time. Because if someone else can run the 200 in 19.3 seconds or the 400 in 43 seconds, then that person is the best, but there is no person!
Watched him win the Olympics and shatter the world record in the 200 - one of the most jaw dropping performances I've ever seen!
Johnson is no doubt, the greatest track and field athlete in 1990's. He won 8 gold medals at the world championships, 4 at the olympics.
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23Cristiano Ronaldo
Simply the best, and he still have more ten years to show his quality as soccer player! Keep counting his goals (already broke all Real Madrid's records).
He has got immense football skills and the ways he does dribbling is a magic. He is the most expensive player in the football world. The way he plays against the Brazilian players is phenomenon. He also holds record of scoring most number of goals for Manchester United and Real Madrid in one year. He is still young and has achieved great landmarks
The most complete Football player in world for the moment. He scores with both feet, head and also he know how to strike from free kicks and penalty spot. One of the best.
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24Maradona
Diego Armando Maradona has been the greatest football player ever!
To prove this, just think that the most beautiful goal in the history of football was scored by Maradona in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico against England, when he dribbled 6 English players and the goalkeeper scoring an amazing goal... Just few minutes after his world-famous "Hand of God" goal, when he scored with his hand and the referee did not notice that.
Born on October 30, 1960 in the poor slums of Villa Fiorito in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Diego grew up with soccer. In the halftime of the Argentinos Juniors matches, a young boy from the youth team entertained the audience playing and juggling with the ball. "¡Que se quede!, ¡que se quede! " (=let him stay! ) the fans in the stadium said. His quick football career started in Argentinos Juniors where he made his debut in the Argentina first division at 15 years of age. He then joined Boca Juniors and led the Argentina youth team to win the world cup in 1979. After the 1982 world cup in Spain, when he was already an idol, he joined Barcelona and played in Spain for two seasons. In 1984 the dreams of millions of Napoli fans throughout the world became reality: he joined the team where he would win two Italian Championships in 1986/87 and 1989/90, one Coppa Italia (1987), one UEFA cup (1989) and one Supercoppa Italiana (1990). In the meantime, he became the hero of Argentina's triumph in Mexico 1986 World Cup where he almost single-handedly led the team to the final victory. Unfortunately, after failing a dope test in 1991 he was banned from the soccer fields. After the suspension, he went to Spain to play for Sevilla and then back to Argentina with Newell's Old Boys. Then, after a pair of coachings in Argentina for Deportivo Mandiyú and Racing de Avellaneda, he came back to play for Boca Juniors.

In the World Cup of 1994 in the USA, Maradona was tested after the match against Nigeria and was found to have used "ephedrine", not permitted by FIFA. He was suspended from playing soccer for more than a year as punishment. Although Argentina came in with a strong team in the 1994 World Cup, everything went downhill and, without their captain, they were soon defeated.

After the suspension, he started playing again for Boca Juniors until 1997: on October 30, 1997, day of his 37th birthday, he retired from football.

Nobody can judge somebody else's life. Even less can anyone judge such a difficult life as the one of a world-famous personality. But we must all judge Maradona for what he showed on the football fields all over the world, and we will certainly all agree that the spectacle he brought to the world of sports is something really unique and unforgettable.
You guys always focus on US athletes, and recognizing yours. In reality The planet only recognizes those athletes who move the masses world wide and of course the sport that is king of all, cause everything else is just none existing. And by the way football is play with the feet, the whole planet knows it, why don't you?
The most dominant athlete ever to emerge on the face of earth. The technical skills, the power, the lithe, the look and understandig of the game his often clinical perfect free-kicks. He was this dominant in the biggest sport worldwide with the fiercest competition. I have the utmost respect also for Michael Jordan also participating in a team sport. But Maradona is the BEST ever -He is as close to God as you can get.
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25Joe Montana
THERE ARE ONLY TWO NFL QUARTERBACKS WHO HAVE WON 4 SUPER BOWLS JOE MONTANA IS ONE OF THEM
He is really good at football
Montana was known as a limited athlete. Didn't have a riffle arm, no Tarkenton or Vick when running. If this about athleticism no. If this about winning, being the best at your craft, yes.
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26Jerry Rice
First of all JERRY RICE IS THE GREATEST ATHLETE OF ALL TIME! Case closed. His records, someday may be eclipsed. No man showed more determination than Jerry, todays wide receivers catch the ball and fall down or try to get out of bounds(smart sometimes)Jerry would break free and score more touchdowns than any other player in the history of the game. 3 super bowl rings (super bowl MVP)more all purpose yards than any other man. A true SPORTS LEGEND JERRY RICE.
The best wide receiver to ever live. They took all of jerry rices records one time, and compared them to every person who has ever played in the nfl. And there was only 7 men in all of history, who even had half.
A legend and just think if he hadn't that knee injury his numbers would have been untouchable for many more years. He is the greatest receiver of all time without a doubt. I do feel that as far the greatest football play er of all time he is in the top 5 for sure.
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27Jim Brown
obivously a top ten all time caliber running back (may have been best ever except he stopped playing at age 30), but was also offered to pitch for the yankees, one of the greatest lacrosse players ever (in hall of fame), good track athlete (5th in national decathalon), and could have won a national championship for syracuse if there had been no rule for not allowing 3 african american players to start for a team (Brown didn't go out his senior year because he may not have started over 2 other players)

danajs24

Not only was he one of the greatest football players of all-time, but he was perhaps the greatest lacrosse player of all-time too. And he could play basketball and baseball well enough to attract the pro scouts.
Not only the greatest runningback of all-time in the NFL, but the man was the greatest lacrosse player to. And he was excellent in basketball and baseball and could have made the pros in those sports.
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28Carl Lewis
Carl was the most exciting track athlete of all time. Track athletes are purest form of athleticism. His shear presence turned the competition into rubber and for 12 years he was basically the only player in the Long Jump (Minus 1 jump from Powell - who too turned to rubber at the Olympics). Speaking of Olympics. The Olympics are the biggest stage in the history of the world for athletic demonstration. Carl was the best of all times and proved it 4 straight times. His 1991 Tokyo world record win was spine chilling considering he was 'over-the-hill' by that time in sprinting. And did I mention that he was obviously a clean athlete when the rest of the sport was doping like mad. Carl, like Michael Jordan was just a step above all other greats in his sport. Remember too, the 100m sprint is the most competitive sporting event in the world. Carl was the best at this event for 8 years, and happened to make time to be even better at other events. Michael Jordan was the scoring leader for 10 years and happened to make time for golf and baseball.  Carl Lewis is the greatest athletic competitor of all times.
Four golds in a row in long jump, where no one else has ever won two. Win streak over a decade long. Jumped over 29 feet three times in one meet(the same number of times the rest of the world has done it since the Creation). More jumps over 28 feet than all other humans combined. Had a jump over 30 feet(! ) in 1983 that, but for an official's error, would have broken Beamon's unbreakable record by a foot! Only person to repeat as 100m Olympic champion. Nine gold medals ( but for two relay blunders by others, it would be 11! ). Universally acknowledged as the fastest man EVER with a running start, even to this day. Instrumental in turning the Olympics from a money loser to the most sought after and desired event in world. Ability so far above all others in world that he was able to force IOC to allow its athletes to become professionals and so lengthen their careers and so aggrandizes the Olympics and all former amateur sports.
To measure the best athlete in the world the criteria must include speed and leap.

Lewis was the best in the world at both of these basic skills for over 10 years. No one is a better athlete.
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29Jesse Owens
he beat the nazis in Munich 8 yrs befor D-Day
In 1936 Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals in Germany a country ruled by the face of EVIL (Hitler) who thought the Aryan race was superior. Jesse owens overcame all the obstacles facing him and brought home the gold
Jesse owens was hard working, talented and won medals at the time when there was racism. He is a role model to all
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30Kobe Bryant
I have loved Kobe ever since I was 2 years old. I saw Kobe when he made 81 points, I saw Kobe each time he got the MVP award in both the NBA and All-Star games. I've seen everything Kobe has accomplished if I wasn't born at the time I would see it on Youtube. Only Jesus could beat Kobe at basketball. I don't care if he can be a ball hogger sometimes, I don't care if he disses people, and I don't care if he's 21 on this list! Kobe did not go to the NBA for fame or anything like that! What he went to the NBA for was to express his love of basketball not for popularity! When he retires it will be the saddest day of my life besides the death of friends or family. Like I said I don't care if Kobe is not #1 in this list. He will always be #1 to me.
kobe may not be better than jordan but he is a beast! you have to admit!
Let's not get carried away with the" he's better than mj" but when he's done playing he ll be #2
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31Ato Boldon

32Michael Schumacher
Nobody as dominate is sports like this guy did. He should be in the top ten. I think Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Lance Armstrong and Michael Schumacher should be in the top 10 because they are/were all in a league of their own against the strongest competition of their sports!
Formula 1 cars take an incredible amount of static strength to drive, having driven an INDY CAR myself and having trouble after 3 laps while being in great shape its hard to comprehend how these guys do it for 2 hours straight several times over a 3 day race weekend, add the domination M.S. displayed from 1991-2006 in a sport where a simple mistake costs you your life, because of the danger involved I personally feel that makes him the greatest
The best athlete of all time at the age if 41 and driving the most powerful machines around the world and collecting his 69th pole position and arguably the most dominate driver of all time 7 title to his name and fighting for each one of them with ruthlessness and aggression.
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33Deion Sanders
He changed sports culture forever. Absolute monster at Football, Baseball and Track. He was said to be even better at Basketball than anything else. He should be top 10
Yeah right. Babe Ruth was a better athlete than Deion Sanders. Ha! Deion not in the top 10 shows there is something seriously wrong with this list.
SHOULD DEFFINATLY BE HIGH. PLAYED 2 PROFESSIONAL SPORTS AND IN FOOTBALL CUT THE FIELD IN HALF FOR THE OFFENSE
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34Cael Sanderson
Undefeated in his entire college career, Olympic gold, coached his college team Penn State to national championship, then emerged from retirement 7 years later and made the national team championship to compete at worlds.
Cael should be way higher on the list. He's the only man to ever go undefeated in the most demanding and hardest sport out there. Most great ufc fighters have an amazing wrestling background for this reason.
If people can't realize what an amazing athlete Cael Sanderson is then they are truly blind. Cael is the best.
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35Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson-hands down! He was a hall of fame baseball player, won the rookie-of-the-year award despite the unbelievable pressure of being the first black player. Amazingly, though, baseball was only his fourth-best sport. He was also an All-American track star who set the long jump record at UCLA and was national champ in that event, he led the PCC in scoring for the basketball team and won an MVP, and was an all-american halfback. He was also a junior tennis star and excelled at table tennis! Come on! No contest!
The great Jackie Robinson what else can i say.He set the stand for american to be americans no matter if your black,white,green or purple.His number 42 is retire through out baseball.He was not only a great baseball player he was a great man

wideup

#1 no contest. Lettered in FOUR sports at a major university and was an outstanding tennis player as well. That alone is enoguh. Throw in what he had to overcome, and how he changed sports AND society (probably did more for civil rights than anyone except Martin Luther King Jr) and he should be the top choice of any intelligent human.
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36Zinedine Zidane
I cannot believe Zidane is not higher than Ronaldo and Ronaldinho.
Having said that, I still haven't seen Cruyff here, which says a lot.
And more generally, how come there are so few football (soccer) players when it is the most practiced (and popular) sport on the planet?
Zidane is the legend of football and he would be remained as a unique iconic player of all the time and no one could replace him.
Zidane is better than any other player in the world he was the most effective player of football ground.
Zidane is the best soccer player of all time. Why is Christiano Ronaldo higher than him. Zidane should be above pele. He has the most skill
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37Kelly Slater
Try making a basket in the hoop. Try Making a small white ball in a tiny hole. Try Riding your bike more that 20 miles. Try making a soccer ball in the goal. Try hitting a base ball with a bat. Try Making hockey put in the goal. Most of these your average person can do and the conditions you are in are constant. The hoop stays where it is, the hole stays where it is etc, etc. Now try and get a wave that could kill most people just from drowning and ride that wave with grace and the understanding what are the endless possible ways that wave could change. Having done most all these sports surfing is by far the hardest to master and Kelly slater has mastered this sport for over 20 years, not to mention his 10 world titles.Y...
11 times World Champion, with 48 World Tour wins, which is the equivalent to 48 Grand Slams! And when we're talking about the World, it's not just America.. (like in Baseball) It means the whole World. Get that up ya!
Without question one of THE greatest athletes in our planet's history. Although surfing doesn't get the recognition of other mainstream sports, it involves strength, balance, grace, style, endurance, creativity, and courage.
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38Barry Sanders
Its simply put no one has broken his record of 1,000+yrd consecutive seasons and he has the most yards per carry for a carrier(5.4). He held the NCAA single season rush record with only one year starting, he never even started 'till his senior season. He's run one of the fastest 40yrd dashes in NFL History (4.2") plus he his only 5,9 and his team sucked for every single season he played.
Theres one difference between Barry n the other guys on this team, n that is he never had a good team to prove his skills. His O-Line SUCKED but he still managed to get great runs. The fact that there were defenders in the backfield as soon as the ball was snaped, but he put up 5 yards a carry is amazing. THE BEST EVER!
Barry Sanders is all around athletic he can jump, run, he can pretty much do anything probably even fly...
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39Dan Gable
He should be ranked much higher. Most people don't know about Dan Gable because wrestling is one of the most under-appreciated sports. The man's winning percentage is ridiculous! He lost 4 times and won 300 (or something similar to that). He was consistent. He showed up to win everyday. This guy should be top 3. Period.
The man would wear ankle weights and used hand squeezers to college class for god sakes. He dominated the olymics, not a single point was scored on him. he worked 6-8 hours a day. 4 time undefeated HS state champion and a 2 time NCAA champion with only one loss in his college career, to a man he beat at the Olympic trials 8-1. Before his Junior high years he won a state championship in swimming for YMCA, before starting wrestling in JH. He played football and baseball in HS both of which he was very impressive at. Dan Gable is easily in the top 2 or 3 best athletes ever. He was probably the most determined and dedicated athlete as well.
wrestling hardest sport in the world bar none this guy wrestled the his whole olympic wrestling team from light to heavy and beat every1 besides the heavy who was 300 lbs and won the gold hahahahahaha wrestlings a man sport
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40Tom Brady
Tom Brady has the skills to do anything. He has won the Patriot's their first three Super Bowls but has also been to seven. Tom Brady is awesome dude!
He is a winner! Every game he looks like a general leading his men to victory!
Brady is the best quarterback in football and he does it with nobodys and cast offs
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41Mike Tyson
Best most ruthless fighter and athlete ever
To live. Most talented fighter eats you children
Loved by few hated by many respected by all
QUITE POSSIBLY THE MOST DYNAMIC ATHLETE AND CERTAINLY THE MOST DYNAMIC BOXER OF ALL TIME. HE MADE BOXING INTERESTING WHEN IT REALLY WASN'T. IT'S A TRAGEDY THAT HIS LIFE AND CAREER SPIRALED SO BADLY OUT OF CONTROL.
No boxer in the history of the sport could ever beat a young, hungry and dedicated Mike Tyson.
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42Larry Bird
Could look in the opposite direction, shoot the ball and be nothing but net. Now that's amazing.
Go back and look at Basketball Jesus' highlight films. Always the best player on the court. He could do it all and lead any team to a championship. Definition of courage and confidence. The best basketball player ever, just ahead of Mavarich.
Most mentally tough athlete to ever play.

43Michael Vick
Not as accomplished as others, but it is amazing to watch the man play. Even when surrounded by the best athletes in all of sports, Vick still seems to be in a different class from his competitors. Inhuman speed, quickness and acceleration with a cannon of an arm; Vick has the physical potential to be the greatest player to ever step on the field.
Vick has the physical potential to be the greatest player to ever step on the field. If he didn't act like an * and went dog fighting
Are you kidding I'm done with this list.
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44Lance Armstrong
Sorry, this guy cheated his way to the top and as such he should not be on ANY list.
Cyclists never let up as the rider covers 2, 200 miles over 21 days. No other sport requires so much endurance for such a long period of time. A marathon is exhausting, but it is over in 2 hours for the winner. Tennis players play six rounds in tournament, pretty tough, but not as exhausting as Tour ride.
Everyone in the sport of cycling has done some sort of drug to be better. It's part of the history of the sport. It is still going on and I personally think it always will. It was a domino effect, because once one guy does it and is now better, the next guy is gonna want to do it to be better. Lance is an extremely strong athlete, as well as a strong person. He has fought many things. He has fought accusations of using dope, and lied, but he also fought cancer. He might of lost his titles, but has not lost my respect for him.
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45Haile Gebrselassie
Never lost a 10.000m race, beat several world records, beat the 2h04m barrier at the marathon. Considering he came from a very poor country and made it to the top of the world, he has to be the best athlete ever!
Haile Gebreselassie is the ever great man, no doubt at all, he deserves it, Best record holder, brilliantly determined man= Hile Gebresilassie, I don't why they put here...
How can some one compare haile with any one. He run on all long distances and broke all the records and win a lot in his long time as an athlete. I am not being disrespectful for other athletes mentioned, they are all greate champions no doubt about that. Imagine if Haile is white, or a black man born and raise in USA, Europe or he is from Jamaica?!
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46Bill Russell
ahem you mean eleven time champion needs to be recognized
Bill Russell is the greatest defender if all time his stats were world class but they would have been better if they counted blocks and steals back then. He should be rated this number he should be in top 25
The six time champion needs to be recognized!
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47Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd mayweather is undefeated boxer. But manny pacquiao is the greatest, stronger, fighter ever. Floyd to scared "pacman" punch.
Never gets enough credit for his HARD WORK and DEDICATION. One of if not the MOST hated athletes of ALL TIME and STILL proves his dominance and athleticism in the ring time after time. He clearly belongs somewhere in the top 10 at least...
I don't think he is the greatest athlete to ever live. That title belongs to, MJ or Bo jackson, but it is blasphemous to have Pacquiao any wear above Floyd. He is 44-0 no boxer can math that. People saying he is scared to fight are dumb. Why would he be scared to fight a fight where he can gain crazy amounts of money whether he wins or loses?
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48Daley Thompson
Two times won the event that names you the greatest athlete in the world... Broke the record at the time. Should be in top ten or so.
Should be about 10 places above Carl Lewis (and he wasn't exactly bad)

49Ted Williams
He was the last person to hit.400. He also has the highest all-time on-base percentage. He should be in the top 10

50Willie Mays
Willie should be in the top ten. He could control a baseball game all by himself. Hit, field, throw, run, hit for power. A 5 tool player with no comparison.
Read the latest biography of Willie Mays and see what the world thought of him. Better than Babe Ruth. There were no black players in Ruths era. Perfect physical specimen who also was a great person to all races. Played in poor hitters parks and still hit prolific home runs. Willie and Michael tied for first.
Wow there is no question Willie should be top 5. Greatest I would say.

Fahcue


51Tony Hawk
Most Influential and progressive skate boarded of all time. He elevated the sport into the main stream all the while Becoming a household name and media icon.
He's been number one skater since I was a kid in the 1980's. He's grew a franchise in himself. Movies, Video Games, and Competitiveness, and in his 40's still kicking a**

westofohio


52Peyton Manning
Guys lets be serious he should be a lot higher on this list. He is like the greatest regular season quarterback ever. He understands his surroundings and has amazing leadership. The dude was a prodigy since he was like 5. He has a superbowl ring and like a billion accolades. The guy racks up stats at record breaking pace and if you had to average all the greatest quarterbacks stats PER YEAR they don't come close to Manning's. Makes everyone around him better and with a sucky or good defense manages to win. Sure the lack of more postseason success hurts his chances at being deemed better but seriously he has achieved everything a pro QB can. He will break or come seriously close to every QB record in a lot shorter time than it took the original record holders to get there. Brady broke his record of 49 TDs by 1 but look at it like this. Manning got 49 TDs in 496 attempts while it took Brady 578 attempts for that 50. Plus Manning spread the ball around and as athletic Wayne and Harrison are they don't compare to Moss. Brady just had to chuck the ball up no matter how bad and Moss came down with it. Manning threw the ball on the spot hooking up with his receivers. Plus Dungy didn't play with a "bury them alive" run up the score mentality so Manning didn't have as many opportunities as Brady. Brady also had a much better defense so he got the ball back more often than Manning. And as finally as far as greatest QB season is concerned in Manning's record breaking season he had been taken off the field at the end of the games and his backup Jim Sorgi threw 2 scores. Think about it that's 51 passing TD's for the colts and 50 for the pats. You don't think Manning could have put up those two. In my mind Manning is the second best NFL player ever to Jerry Rice and top 50 athlete.

yougnr1116

He's the best best pocket passer their is and he always makes good decisions on the field.
Manning is a beast, he is way better than most other people on this list.

footballanytime

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53Alexander Karelin
This guy should definitely be top 10, most likely top 3. He was basically undefeated till he quit, in a sport that is immensely demanding and tough. In the last 6 years he didn't even lose a single point (except the last game of his career) and no one else has ever been able to throw super heavy weight wrestlers. No one ever!
Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson are not even in the same league as Karelin. This is a poll based on being a great athlete, not just the best at your sport. If that was the case, no wrestler in History is as decorated with Gold Medals is, than Karelin. A great athlete is one who has speed, agility, power, intelligence, and desire. There are only a handful of sports which require all of these traits at once. Wrestling, Tennis, Soccer, and MMA are the Sports which require all these traits at all time. 102 is an absolute joke.
The most dominating athlete ever... did things his competition could only dream of. Greco-Roman wrestler who went 10 years undefeated and for the last six of those years, he never had a point scored on him!

armust

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54George St.Pierre
When you consider the meaning of the words "Mixed Martial Artist", you can then realize how GSP is the embodiment of the term. Training since 7 yrs old, earned black belts in 3 disciplines, works with world renowned trainers such as Freddy roach (boxing), Howard Grant (boxing), Firas Zahabi, Greg Jackson. He has trained wrestling with Olympians, Jiu Jitsu with Roger Gracie, Renzo Gracie, Braulio Estima among others. He incorporates gymnastics, track and field, strength training by Patrick Roy as well as Jonathan Chaimburg. No matter what the price or how far he has to travel, he accomplishes this and represents the sport of MMA with humbleness and class. He's more than one dimensional and lives everyday to train and become better than he was the day before. An exceptional athlete and an exceptional human being. Admiration is well deserved and will go down as one of the best ever and whose contributions will change the sport forever.
Georges St-Pierre should be way higher than this. He currently the hardest working athlete... period. He may not be a bodybuilder, but he is definitely the best all around athlete ( I think of all time) currently. GSP al the way.
G. S. P. Could kick anyone's ass because he kicked Matt Serra's ass
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55Serena Williams
You cannot compare apples to oranges. Serena is an enigma in sports today. I do not play sports of any kind, except for enjoying my local gym. I don't even play tennis! Pound for pound, Serena Williams out preforms any other modern athlete to date. Give her credit.
I believe when Serena Williams is on form no ladies singles player in the history of tennis could beat her, her immense power and her general domination, the only person who can stop serena is herself.

56Hicham El Guerrouj
the mile king and holder of solid three world records. very difficult to replace this king
Fell in 1996, worked hard for a second place in 2000 and in 2004 had his Olympic dream. This just in Olympics.
Exceptional athlete
The best mile runner ever! His records and medals are just amazing, and I think no one can do half of what he did.
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57Ronaldinho
He is in the top most famous athletes in the world, how you guys rate koby better than ronaldinho!
People who don't agree. Try doing some of the stuff he makes look easy
The most skillful soccer player ever lived
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58Derek Jeter
He's. A really good mlb player that plays shortstop for the yankees and he's a good person on and off the field
This guy is the complete package. Playing on the biggest stage (NYC) in sports and one of the best performers in clutch situations!
Great player hits to all fields and has had 14 all star appearances
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59Travis Pastrana
He should be in the top 10 for sure. The kid won the AMA motocross outdoor national championship, AMA super cross championship and the ESPN X games all in one year. He won a outdoor event then hopped on a plane and won the gold in X-games freestyle.
Not my very favorite but he's definitely the ballsiest mofo out there. #tougherthana2dollarsteak the dude is INSANE he has redefined "YOLO" more times than I can count. And why isn't Brett Favre on this list?!? He's the BEST OF ALL TIME!

60David Beckham
Beckham is the best free-kick taker
Real champion and the great man! Respect.
I can't believe he's on the 53rd. Like what! He's definitely the best athlete everr

61Emmitt Smith
My inspiration and idol growing up, never knew one man could have the kind of impact on my life that Emmitt did, but he did. How can you argue with against the all time leading rusher in the NFL.
The greatest running back of all time

62Rocky Marciano
49-0 Undefeated! Never lost! Even Muhammad Ali said that Marciano was his biggest influence growing up. Definitely Rocky Marciano should be top 7
Are you serious at 125 who won 49 straight fights beat joe louis twice
Undefeated macho and a man of steel with the ability to survive in a world of long running. He is a favourite of stallone and so why not me?

63Eddy Merckx
The best bicycle racer of all-time. He won just about every big bike race in the world multiple times, some as many as five and seven times. He has over 400 professional career victories, before any of these fancy performance enhancing drugs.

rmeadeee

The nickname "The Cannibal" is all you need to know. Any true cyclist would say he was the best ever. Yes, even over Armstrong.
He won 1/3 of all the races he started and was simply on another level than his competition. Lance is a popular pic for recent Anglo fans but usually isn't even in the top five of most "best cyclists of all time lists"
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64Pedro Martinez
One of the best baseball player of Dominican Republic and the MLb
Best pitcher of his era

65Anderson Silva
"Whether its pound for pound or not, Anderson Silva is without doubt, the greatest mix martial artist fighter of all time"!
Greatest fighter in history. Has not kost once in the UFC. He's almost 40 years old and he's still knocking people out in the craziest ways!
This man is best in their business and even ranked above michael jordan
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66Seb Coe
12 world records in total. Only person ever to retain the 1500m at the Olympics, this after running 7 races in 9 days. His 800m times whilst preparing for the 1500m would still have him in contention for a medal 30 years on! So good Aouita switched events to avoid him!
Only man to successfully defend the 1500m at the Olympics and multiple world record holder.

67Saïd Aouita

This guy opened the doors to the world of athleticism for millions of kids in the Arab world and Africa a real source of inspiration and a fantastic runner


68Oscar Robertson
Legend out of Cincinnati my pride

69Dwyane Wade
He came into the league among Lebron James Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh and he pulled himself away from the shadows and was the first among them to win a NBA ring, also winning finals MVP. He has the closest high flyer style to Michael Jordan and now even Lebron realized that Wade can do it better and joined him in Miami, so he can finally win a ring, but he will never do it on his own like Wade did. Above all this, at this point he is the best clutch player in the league, that's why when the game is on the line the ball goes to Wade not James.
He has incredible speed, agility, strength, balance, hand eye coordination, touch and was never intimidated by pressure, opponents or odds, he played through injury and carried an otherwise terrible team to the playoffs for so many years, and the heat wouldn't even come close to a championship in 06 had it no been for him.
best team player, very unselfish. Best looking too!
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70Joe Louis
This guy was embraced for his achievement in an era where blacks were not allowed into any other professional sport

71Ricky Carmichael
RC is truly a great athlete and would excel in many disciplines that are fitness and finesse oriented but I feel the sport itself, despite it's documented difficulty, hinders his ranking. I just put in for Jeff Ward, RC's original mentor, who's a FOUR sport success and two sport Hall of Famer.

MJRydsFast

Statistically the best athlete of all time. Who else has won every single championship they've ever competed in? NOBODY in my knowledge! I know he didn't win every supercross championship, but he did win every single outdoor championship that he entered.
Most physical demanding and mental demanding sport of ALL TIME. RC is the GREATEST OF ALL TIME. If you don't ride you most likely believe the bike "oes all the work" yet any rider will tell you its 90% person and 10% bike.. Have you seen RC smash his face in the ground at 50 MPH, get ran over by another rider, get on his bike.. And win the race? He's the best PEROID
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72Gabby Douglas

73Sugar Ray Robinson
Best pound for pound boxer of all time. enough said.

74Brian Lara
Most cricket world records for batting
Broke the Test and First Class records a few months apart. Still standing

75Garfield Sobers

76Lionel Messi

77Lawrence Taylor
Even in a team game surrounded by world class athletes, Taylor was such a presence on the defensive side of the ball that offensive coordinators were forced to scheme their game plans to account for him.
Best LB ever the only player that comes close to him is Don Hutson who is not even on this list which is hard to believe because he is one the best football players to ever play the game. Lawrence Taylor is one of the best to play to. When he injured Joe Thisman the redskins franchise was over from that point on. The people that make this list Don Hutson in the top 10 Lawrence Taylor in the top 25.

78Roger Decoster

79Patrick Willis

80Steve Redgrave

81Walter Payton
There is not an athlete in history who was in better physical shape or in more control of his body than Walter. He took a beating in the most brutal sport on earth for over a decade and NEVER missed a game. He once held nearly every rushing record, could play any position, won it all, and received every accolade possible. He was the best football player of all time and the greatest athlete.
Okay, In College he kicked and ran. In the NFL he got the most career yards as a power back, he even subed in for QB time-to-time and when he wanted to even though it was very rare he could juke people out. If he were to run Like Franco Harris or Emmitt Smith and go away from people he would have at least 20000 career rushing yards. And If you consider auto-racing a sport, When he retired he was a racer for a while.
Walter Payton is WAY more deserving of a higher rank than this. He was perfectly conditioned, motivated athlete in addition to being a great football player. Look at the list above him tons of people who weren't even close to being "ATHLETES". This list is a joke... You have racecar drivers on it?
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82Dale Earnhardt
Nobody can repeat his performance! I think he is the best that will ever be, he knew how to do things no one else could! It's gonna take some real talent to exceed his ability's!
I haven't seen any F1 drivers in this list, not to make NASCAR less, but I think that F1 races are way more complex, where is Ayrton Senna, Schumi or Alain Prost? , come on this list is total crap
Doesn't anyone watch NASCAR? Come on- it's more than just a redneck sport. It takes guts to be in a high horsepowered vehicle for 3-4 ' hours. By the way- it's 100% REAL!
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83Randy Moss
He ran so fast and jumped so high!

84Ray Lewis
Even though Ray Lewis has retired, he was so awesome as a NFL football player for the Ravens.
He's freackin awesome, and that's a lot said because I'm a steelers fan

85Brett Favre
Come on the guy is 42, he works so hard, just cause he got too old doesn't mean he's ranked 153rd in the list. Come on
I'd like to see what you're doing at 42 years old
Number 4 on the field number 1 all time! No one will last as long and play to that level!
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86Frank Robinson

87Vivian Richards

88Novak Djokovic
Climbing on the list of the best tennis players ever!
If he keeps winning in the next 5 years good chance of becoming best ever!
AMAZING TENNIS PLAYER! almost number 1 tennis player in the WORLD. YOU HAVE TO VOTE FOR HIM!

Beywiki

THE BEST TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME, HE WILL BECOME A LEGEND ONE DAY!
Federer nad Nadal will have to try much much better

89Hope Solo
Simply the best female goalkeeper to have ever lived. She's the reason the United States made it to the world cup final and an Olympic championship.

90Herschel Walker
This is greatest athlete not most popular or media friendly right? Herschel is one of the great athletes, not players but he is very athletic

Chris-1

He actually holds the single season rushing record if you count USFL (which they actually used to). Unfortunately for Herschel he wasted his time by joining the USFL and I believe this hurt his career, Herschel may have been the NFL's all time leader. I have seen him carry guys 10 to 15 yards holding on to him and flailing in the wind. He is second only to Barry Sanders but these are two different running styles.
He was a top notch football player, an olympic bobsleder who almost won an olympic medal, and he almost made another olympic team for track and field. Now he is a pro mma at nearly fifty beating guys half his age. Best ever
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91Jack Nicklaus
Greatest golfer of all time, he won 18 majors, and at the age of 70, he is still competing at a high level.
Until tiger beats Jack's 18 major win's Mr Nicklaus will be the best golfer of all time. He was also a gentleman on and off the golf course not like woods. Jack should be in the top 10
Should be in top ten without a doubt.

92Jonny Wilkinson

93Sandy Koufax
No athlete accomplished what Koufax did in a four year stint. When it mattered most, he always pulled through with the victory. His World Series ERA was under 1.0 and simply perfection is what that left arm was.

94Tony Stewart

95Dennis Rodman

96Tony Gonzalez

97Terry Fox
I couldn't say who the greatest living athlete is. But I would put for contention that the greatest athlete was a runner.

He didn't break any speed records.

He had one race; one challenge, and he couldn't even finish that.

He did manage to run more consecutive marathons in consecutive days than anyone else-5, 373 km in 143 days.

That is an average of 23. 3 miles per day.

On one leg.

There is in any course of human endeavor--be it art, invention or sport where some times, on a very rare occassion, one person elevates something simple, beyond its simplicity and shows us not only what one person can achieve if motivated, but rather what all of us might if we harnassed the barest echo of that resolve.

I have noticed that frequently, your country loves the winner to the exclusion of all else.

Terry Fox could not complete his race. He was completing not just agaisnt the miles, but against his own body turned traitor. In the end that cancer stopped him from finishing his race.

It weakened him to the point that he couldn't breathe.

It eventually killed him.

But it did not beat him.

And so I am always mystified why when the call goes out for the greatest athlete his name never seems to make the list.
Terry Fox had heart... And passion... And what he did was not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of all humans. In fact he died before he could complete his course, but boy, what a run. With one leg and the biggest heart, he has become the greatest Canadian, and by extension, the greatest athlete in the world.
"Perseverance" is the most important word in the world today and Terry Fox shown through this word to the people. Terry also shown the world that any athletes with disability that can compete at any level!
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98Mario Lemieux
Gretzky was all offense; Lemieux was as good as Gretzky in that department, but he was a complete player who could hit, defend, even fight. His cancer and back problems slowed him down tremendously; otherwise had a great shot at beating Gretzky's records for goals and points.
if he hadnt of had cancer which caused him to miss so many games, the majority of the NHL's scoring records would be held by 66 not 99
Mario was flat out amazing, nobody not even Gretzky could match his skill level, 160 points in 60 games... With cancer treatment in pro hockey is astonishing.
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99Steve Yzerman
What sport is more physical and skillful than hockey and who's a better hockey player or captain than Steve Yzerman. (It's been proven that a hockey hit can be up to five times harder than the hardest football hit.

That's right, Detroit red wings!
Steve is a humble and most dedicated player EVER!
The best one of my favorite

100Serguei Bubka
He should be in the top 3. His record is he broke them all, been out of pole vaulting for 12 years and his record will not be broken in our lifetime.7 world championships. Sure Armstrong should be somewhere, but Bubka is unbeaten.
Best ever, set a margin with other competitors unseen in ANY and ALL sports.

AlphaX

C, mon in the olympics he sat on the back of the runway untill every one else was out and won the meet on his first jump! He truely is the best.
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This list was created 8 years, 127 days ago and has been voted on over 22,000 times. This top ten list contains 408 items, has been remixed 82 times and has been blogged about 22 times.

Updated Thursday, July 24, 2014


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