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.
The Top Ten
1 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

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.

Michael Jordan is a widely recognized athlete all over the Earth, he has achieved many feats including NBA rookie of the year, Slam-Dunk contest winner, six NBA championships, five NBA Most Valuable Player awards, won two Olympic gold medals, was on the 1992 dream-team, and was featured in thirteen all star games, and that's still not all of his accomplishments. He earned all of these in fourteen years in the NBA, which is unbelievable. There were few that could even come close to matching his fantastic abilities like Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. Sure there are RUMORS about Jordan having addictions to gambling, but it's all illegitimate. Jordan even tried baseball!

Jordan isn't number one by accident. In all of major league sports nobody has dominated or been as fun to watch as Michael Jordan. I don't even like basketball and I used to watch the Bulls all the time when he played for them. If you need evidence for how integral he was, then look at the two three-peat championship wins the Bulls had in the 1990's. There was one year between their 6 championships dividing the 3-peats. What was missing that year? Michael Jordan. Haters can hate, but go watch his fifty best plays or some other highlight reel on a video hosting site and then tell me I'm wrong. Ali, Thorpe, Federer, Tyson, the Babe, all of them were great, but none of them dominated their sport (s) the way Jordan did basketball. Nobody.

Untouchable. His will and determination alone makes him the undeniable top choice for greatest athlete. His grace and athleticism were second to no other as well. If he had placed the same time, focus and energy in sports such as baseball or even football (I'm thinking the wide receiver position) his greatness would have been seen by the world in those sports as well. On the big stage he refused to lose, and he pretty much capitalized on every big magical moment he could have (the switching hands in the paint layup to close out the Lakers, the shot against Cleveland, the final moments in his sixth and final finals against Utah). Need I say anything else.

2 Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sporting figures of the 20th century, and more.

If anyone ask a name in sports they remember or heard of, no doubt the name would be Muhammad Ali. No sportsman comes near to Muhammad Ali. Fact is that, there are many places in world continents where many people may not know or even heard of Michael Jordan or any other sportsperson mentioned here, but it is most likely that they would have heard and known Muhammad Ali. So, to me, he is the greatest sportsman ever born. I am 100 percent sure that even after 100 years Muhammad Ali's name would be known to many whereas names of other sportsman is most likely to fade away from memory (possibly remaining in record books).

In his profession and in his humanity, Muhammad Ali is:

Pure, honest, graceful, proud, humble, wise, playful and entertaining. During a moment in our nation's history, few individuals managed to rise to the top of sports, popularity, social and spiritual commentary as did Mr. Ali. Willing to give up everything for his faith and beliefs during the Vietnam War.

On top of all of that, he changed boxing forever. Ask every boxer that trained with or fought him... He is the Greatest regardless of the sport. Come on, 15 rounds of heavyweight boxing(?)... There will never be another in or out of the ring and that's how it should be.

There are many great athletes in different sports in different times. It is rare to see athletes who go beyond their playing stage and influence the best in humanity, to stand up for principles, to be forgiving, and kind. Of course every human being has flaws and weaknesses so this is not to idolize Ali. The film "When we were Kings" is one of my favorite go to sources of inspiration. It symbolizes going against the Goliath's of our lives. Being great isn't just about your wins, but how you help bring the best of humanity out in others, and Ali other than his showmanship, exemplified this.

He is the most inspirational and most thrilling athlete of all time. If you judge his boxing carrier only addressing its first half before being banned because of his opposition to kill another colored people for the sake of white man in Vietnam, you will see he is the greatest athlete of all time with all of his athletic abilities; such as speed, coordination, accuracy. If you judge him addressing his whole carrier you will see the most honorable, durable, skilled warrior in box arena and outside teaching us what is important and what is not. I think he is one of prominent reasons of why the world and especially U.S.A is no longer so racist like in his childhood. He is the best sportsman, most importantly he is the definition of man.

3 Wayne Gretzky Wayne Douglas Gretzky CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League for four teams from 1979 to 1999.

Let's take a look at some important stats. He got his first thousand points the fastest ever, and then got his next thousand the second fastest ever. So he is both the best and the second best ice hockey player who ever lived by an incredibly wide margin. And if you watch clips of his games, it becomes questionable why he isn't the greatest athlete of all time. Statistically, even though he leads, he should be far more in first than he is. He would often skate the puck down the ice through an entire team before making a pass for an assist. He would set his teammates up as often as he could, and if he didn't, he would be by far the greatest athlete ever statistically.

Besides having to learn a whole new skill set (I.E. skating without breaking your neck), the Great One owns every important stat in his sport, other than goalie stats. Not only was he an automatic entry into the hockey hall of fame (that's right kids, no five year wait), he has a room dedicated to him. Jordan was great at his sport, no doubt, but he is still compared to Kobe and LeBron. No one gets compared to Wayne; there is no comparison. People say, "So and so is the Jordan of their sport, " and call that high praise. How about Jordan is the Gretzky of basketball. Truly the best and deserving of the name, The Great One.

No other professional sports player has been so much better than the other people in their sport. He has more assists than anyone else has points and has almost 1000 more points than mark messier who is second in career points with around 1800. If you don't know hockey a great season is scoring over 100 points he did that almost every season. He is also the only player ever to score 200 points in a single season. #1 in my opinion. Also hockey has more world diversirty than any other sport

Nobody dominated their sport more than Gretzky. 9 MVPs, 5 Player & coaches MVPs, 10 Leading scorer awards, 5 sportsmanlike awards, 2 time all-star MVP, 4 Stanley Cups, 2 time playoff MVP, holds or shares 61 NHL records, 3 World Cup gold medals, AP's Male Athlete of the decade in the 80's. Put hockey on the map in the hot cities, most notably L.A. and was the single largest influence on the teams being launched in Anaheim, Tampa, Phoenix and Florida. If he had the American marketing machine behind him like Jordan and Ali, he would be number 1.

4 Michael Phelps Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) is an American former competitive swimmer and the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic more.

I encourage any person on here that disputes this man as the best athlete to ever live to head on down to their local pool and swim a few laps. No comparison...not even a conversation to be had. This man is the fittest most insanely gifted athlete to ever live.

Most individual world titles of any athlete ever. Most world records. Most decorated Olympic athlete. Most gold medals. And he wins by wide margins. Add to all that the fact that he made a huge personal comeback, continues to dominate well past the age when most athletes have retired, and he does so multiple times a day for several days, there is no dispute. It's simple fact. He's the best. Opinions are irrelevant. Math and logic confirms. The most winningest athlete of all time is the best athlete of all time. Simple criteria. Why are we struggling with this?

I think comparing athletes of different sports and games is not justified. You can't really judge who is the best athlete across all sports just by public votes. After all, people will only vote athletes they know or the sports that they watch. You won't expect an American to know about Sachin Tendulkar's contribution to cricket or an Indian to know about Babe Ruth's contribution to Baseball. So, you can probably make a list of greatest footballer, swimmer, sprinter, etc. but greatest athlete? -NO

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.

5 Usain Bolt Usain St Leo Bolt is a Jamaican retired sprinter, widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. He is a world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay. more.

Usain bolt is so amazing as athlete. His primary sport is track and field of course. He is the fastest sprinter in the world. But his combination of being an athlete is well balanced because he is good at a lot of sports and he has earned three gold medals in each Olympic Games that he has been in. Usain bolt runs 100 meters in 9.58 seconds, 200 meters in 19.19 seconds and 4x1 relay 36.84 secs. 23.5 mph was his average speed because 9.58 sec in 100m x 60 x 60 is 23 mph but it takes a few seconds to accelerate. His top speed is 28 mph. He could have been the best in 300 meter hurdles. Usain Bolt is strong bench presses 350 lbs. He is so good at football, baseball and basketball.

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.

I realise his already on the list but he deserves the entire list, no ones compares to him. When he goes under 9.4 seconds in 100m which I'm positive of no one will ever beat this time. Leave alone anyone one beating 9.58. This is what will determine the greatest sportsman of all time. Something that can't be matched or beaten. Every other person on this list will be beaten. Put all these people on the list in a 100m n the winner should be the greatest. Usain would run backwards, blindfolded n still beat them. Unfair but give them a 10m lead also. Usain is King of Sport.

Bolt was not the fastest man EVER, but definitely the fastest consistently. "Bullet" Bob Hayes was wildly inconsistent, but when he was "on" even Bolt could not have beaten him. Check the grainy footage of Hayes' anchor leg in the 4X100 relay at the 1964 Olympics. Hayes got the baton badly in last place, running against the 5 other fastest people in the world. He looked like he was rocket-propelled, passing the other champions like they were elementary schoolers. Not eligible for a record, nonetheless his time was a non-human 8.6.

6 Babe Ruth George Herman Ruth Jr., better known as Babe Ruth, was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935.

Okay Babe Ruth was probably the greatest power hitter of all time, but to call this man the greatest athlete of all time is absurd. Baseball is my favorite sport, but I have no illusions that dunking a basketball requires a far greater amount of athleticism than hitting a homerun. Does anyone seriously think Babe Ruth could run faster or jump higher than pretty much anybody in the NBA? Of course not because that'd be stupid. Babe Ruth changed the way the game of baseball was played, and it's not hard to argue that he is the greatest baseball player of all time, but baseball is a different kind of sport. It's less based on athleticism than most sports. That's not saying it's inferior; I love baseball more than any sport on the planet, but come on people. You need to be more athletic to play basketball or soccer than you do baseball. Not saying there aren't athletic baseball players. Willie Mays is easily one of the greatest athletes of all time. But look at Babe Ruth. The greatest ...more

Ruth would have made the HOF as a pitcher, not to mention the fact that he revolutionized the game at the plate. Relative to his time and era, he was unparalleled as an athlete and transcended his sport and his era. It's laughable that he's only at #8. Fact is, he should be #1, and that's coming from a Chicago native who loves MJ. Oh, and let's not get hung up on body type or lifestyle choices. Jordan was notorious for some of his questionable lifestyle choices during his career, and Charles Barkley was flat-out fat during much of his career; nonetheless MJ is considered to be the best basketball player ever, and Barkley is in the top 50.

Ruth is baseball's GOAT. No question. He had a 2.28 career ERA, which is enough to put anybody into the hall of fame in itself. Add in 7 World Series rings, a .342 batting average (yes, he can pitch and hit), and 714 career home runs, and you've got one of the greatest, if not the greatest, athlete ever. Also, Ruth didn't even learn how to play baseball until he was like 16 years old.

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.

7 Jim Thorpe James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States.

The greatest athlete has to be able to do more than one thing. No other athlete has participated in 4 sports at the highest level. None.

Mr.Thorpe did it all. Unlike the others on this list other the Bo Jackson who did two sports, Mr. Thorpe did everything at a time when Native Americans were still trying to recover from the genocide they suffered at the hands of the United States Government, so his accomplishments were not well accepted in all areas of sports or the country. Mr. Thorpe did everything plain and simple!

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!

I think Michael Jordan was a very good athlete, especially in basketball, but he never excelled in three sports. He also had the advantage of the training, equipment, and especially the media that existed in his time over what Jim Thorpe had to deal with in his time. Also, Jim never had to do all the training to become great he just was what he was, and unnatural athletic talent. He could could do anything, including winning the college ballroom dance championship and he ran home one hundred miles in one day. How many athletes can do what he did in three sports, not just one! Most people in our time have no clue what this guy could do but his olympic gold medial in the decathlon lasted a decade before people with greater equipment, training and preparation could finally beat his record. He is by far the greatest athlete. Only Wilt Chamberlain could come close to match some of his physical abilities. Wilt could run under fifty seconds on the quarter mile and could take a quarter off of ...more

8 Bo Jackson Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a former baseball and American football player. He is the only athlete in history to be named an All-Star in both baseball and football, and one of few to do so in two major sports.

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.

Who ever is voting on here must have never watched Bo. The question is who was the best athlete, NOT "who was the best at their sport? ". Bo was with out question the best athlete that God has blessed us with. It was a great honor to watch this man perform. It would have been great if we could have watched his career play out. I think we all could agree it would have been pretty cool to see an athlete to be inducted into the Hall of Fame in two sports. No question he would have. His numbers continued to go up every season in the MLB and to play part time in the NFL and almost carry 1000 yards when the leader had 1400 for the season. He also has the highest per carry average in the NFL with 5.4. With out a doubt greatest speed and power combo. Baseball 5 tool player. His arm was amazing, his bat continued to increase with average and power, covered the outfield very well and of course his speed was outstanding.

Without doubt the greatest athlete in modern times (with respect to Jim Thorpe who is from another era). The only person ever to be an all star at TWO major sports. He could do it all and not just based on strength and speed. Fabulous hand eye coordination and would kick Michael Jordan's butt at anything but basketball...

However, I worry that steroids were involved. I hope not and base the above on that assumption, but some of what he did seemed super-human and recent times have shown that just about all super-human athletic feats appear to involve PED's. Steroids were around in his playing days and rumors are out there. I hope they are just rumors...

I'm shocked that this is number 8. Bo Jackson is the best athlete to ever step foot on earth. He had every attribute to be a successful athlete. Balance, strength, power, speed, endurance, coordination, and flexibility. For gods sake, he played 2 professional sports in an elite level. He could of ran professional track if he wanted too as well. 10.2 second 100 meter dash isn't too shabby. In his documentary they said he came into training camp a week before the season started without any practice and dominated. Built like a bodybuilder with the speed of Bold. God given abilities. Bo Jackson is the greatest athlete to ever step foot on earth.

9 Pele (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as "Pelé", is a Brazilian former professional footballer who played as a forward. In 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé more.

Awesome talent for sure. This guy stood out not only with his talent but he also captivated people with his skill set. I started watching soccer because of Pele and have yet to see anyone come close to his talent level on the field. He reminds me of Bruce Lee with the ease that he played the game. It came natural to Pele as fighting did to Bruce Lee. Pure and smooth best describe this icon. Number 1 on my list.

The king of THE most popular sport on the planet, Football (Soccer, for those who don't know better). He was respected and admired by BILLIONS around the globe long before athletes such as Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky became superstars of their respective sports, and still is to this day. Pele should be #1 on this list, followed by Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, and Wayne Gretzky.

Michael Jordan number one. Are you kidding me! Pele would have run circles around him. Statistically the athletic talent pool in soccer is bigger than any other sport, there are no racial, social or height constraints as in the NBA. Plus Jordan holds no major NBA record. NFL players have low endurance and baseball players have a beer belly!

This writer must have been sniffing the glue... Go anywhere in the globe and find out who was the best.. And I mean the best. Both in talent and recolonization.. The man stopped wars to see him play. I don't think the one's ahead of him stopped anything other Ali... The only one who can be second to Pele would be... Not probable.. Be... Mohammad Ali

10 Roger Federer Roger Federer (born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 3 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in history for a male tennis player. He has held the world No. 1 spot more.

Without a doubt Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player in the history of the sport. But not only is his extravagance as a sportsman apparent in Tennis. His records are incredible, and they probably won't be touched any time soon. What other athlete in any sport has dominated his/her sport the way Federer did in the 2000s? Now he is 30+, and he is still relevant in his sport, competing avidly against his younger competitors. Yes, his invincibility has been lessened, but the fact that his is still considered a MAJOR CONTENDER even at such an old age is a testament to his ability and dedication to the game. He is also a class act outside the court. No one trumps Federer in the athletic department. No one. Period.

It's not even a competition. It's not about who has the most titles, or who won what, or whatever. It's about who changed the sport. Federer completely revolutionized tennis in the open era by being the first major proponent of the serve and volley, crushing all of his opponents with it from an early age. Then, when many of the best players began to catch on and use it themselves, he created a new shot: the dipper, once thought to be a very foolish choice in tennis. Using this, he then reduced the prominence of serve-volley, completely changing the game again, while staying on top. His ability to see the court from a thousand different angles and weave a point as elegantly and effortlessly as possible truly marks him as the best athlete ever.

He's Roger Federer. He spent 302 weeks at world number one; something that is extremely had to do in tennis. You have to be very consistent. Won 17 Grand Slams, more than any other player, 6 world tour finals, and has been the most consistent player of any tennis era. Not only are his records impressive, but you also have to watch him with a naked eye. You see him do things no other player has ever done with a racket before. He makes such a physical game look so effortless. I have never seen any other player play like that. Definitely Great Of All Time. We love you Federer! Long live the King!

The physical and mental aspects of singles tennis is one of the greatest challenges in all of professional sports, and Roger is the epitome of the athlete who excelled in mastering both. Tennis is a skill sport requiring deft touch and technique to construct and win points, physical endurance to weather matches that last hours and mental toughness to manage the stress of your body, the stress that your opponent puts on you and determine strategy point by point and even within points as needed.

For me, Roger is #1 not only in tennis, but on this list.

The Contenders
11 Joe Montana Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana, Jr., nicknamed Joe Cool and The Comeback Kid, is a retired American football quarterback.

Joe is the better qb over brady. Brady has had 260 regular season starts with the Pats and Joe had only 139 starts with 49ers. Joe was perfect in superbowls 4-0 with no lost fumbles and 11 TOUCHDOWNS with no interceptions. That is like 4 perfect Don Larsen World Series games. If he could have had 260 starts with the 49ers he would have won more superbowls than brady bank on it. Plus Brady has 3 losses in superbowls which joe does not have a loss. in 88 -90 playoffs he threw 22 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.

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.

Confidence and courage, a winning combination. Nevermind his thousands of crunches to recover from back surgeries before quarterbacks were protected by the NFL.

Why is the first NFL olayer shwon at 18? This is the most popular sport in America and should be higher. Joe Montana is one of the best players ever in the NFL

12 LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers.

Should be higher on This list. He is the most athletic person to ever step foot on this planet. Hear me out. I get mj is the greatest NBA player ever but do you people realize how physically dominate Lebron James is. He is a human wrecking ball. He's huge. He can out power anyone. Evan 7 foot centers. He can run the point guard position better then any point guard. He is the only player to ever be able to competitively play all 5 positions. The fact that he is out of the top 10 in my opinion is crazy. He should be top 5 with Jordan, Ali, bolt and phelps. He doesn't get enough credit. This man is the most physically dominate human that was ever created. That's a fact.

What athlete dominated basketball. Lets see who score 100 points in a game Wilt, who averaged 50 points for an entire season Wilt. How many points a game does the King average? (lets see if Wilt scoren only 27 in a game to get to his average he would have to score 73 points in his next game), lead the league in assists Wilt did it once. Who could touch the top of the backboard, Wilt.

Who set records in High School and College Track (not only for running but he also set records in the high jump, Wilt. Played pro Volleyball (started the women pro circuit). Run 11 second 100 yard dash, Wilt. Was there anyone stronger than Wilt to play the game (even Wilts detractors say it was Wilt)


What people are clearly forgetting when voting is that this list is about the greatest ATHLETES ever, not players in their sports ever. MJ, Ali, Thorpe, Phelps, Bo and Bolt are decent choices but LeBron is the greatest athlete ever. MJ was fast and could leap, but he wasn't nearly as strong as LeBron. Ali's athleticism was limited to a ring so he couldn't truly show us what he was capable of. Thorpe lived in a time before modern practices where athletes were a fraction of what they are today. At the time, Thorpe may have been the greatest athlete ever, but he isn't anymore. Phelps is the greatest swimmer but he doesn't have the strength or speed on land that LeBron does. Usain is clearly the fastest dude. No one on this list can touch that but he doesn't show us any other ability (I.e. jumping, upper-body strength, agility) because of his sport. Finally, Bo, the biggest threat that LeBron has, in my opinion. Bo was stronger, and more talented at other sports (which isn't inherently an ...more

He's one of the athlete's world would ever see... he's more athletic than any other athlete who is on top in this list... he can play any position on the court and that is very difficult if you know the game of basketball... he's the best all rounder player in the game of Basketball... he can compete and play any sport he desires he's gifted with that body... people say there won't be another Michael Jordan... and also there won't be another Kobe Bryant... but there won't be another LeBron James because no one can play all the 5 positions in the game the way he does. Definitely should be in top 5

13 Jesse Owens James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist in the 1936 Olympic Games.Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in more.

If ever there was an athlete worthy of the title athlete it was Jesse owen. At the Berlin Olympics in 1935, he not only ran for America, he ran for the whole free world against Nazi Germany - and beat them all. Hitler was so incenced he refused to congratulate him at the podium and stormed out of the games.

Owens held or shared the 100 meter world record for 20 years and also held the Long Jump world record for 25 years! As much as like Usain Bolt and admire his fabulous times it is hard to put Bolt ahead of Owens.

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

I don't know who but someone did the math and figured out that if jesse owens was given the same technology as usain bolt, he could've broken 9.2

14 Leo Messi

I see this list overrun by american athletes. No doubt are they great but basketball, hockey, baseball are all very confined sports played by hardly 10 countries. Lionel messi is the best player in the world in the biggest sport in the world. There are more countries in the FIFA than in the UN! Football is the biggest and most followed sport on the planet. The UEFA champions league final and world cup are the biggest sporting events on the planet. The kind of popularity and money football involves, no other sport does.Lionel Messi He is not only the best player at the moment but the best ever to grace the pitch, Considering these facts I believe he should make it to the top 5 automatically.

Lionel Messi dominates the game in a way that cannot be rivaled. Imagine controlling 21 athletes for an hour and a half while delivering a spectacular performance for the fans! Quite unparalleled if you ask me! Lionel Messi is already considered one of the best athletes in history. By the time the little maestro retires, he will be considered the best athlete ever!

If soccer was as popular in the United States as football, basketball, baseball etc... there would be no doubts!

If you look at the history of Barcelona and Argentina; no player has ever revolutionised the achievements of their club and national team more than this individual. From winning just one champions league in their entire history pre-Messi, Barcelona now stand amongst the top 3 historical European clubs, with 5 champions leagues. For a single player to quintuple a club which has existed for over 100 years' trophy record is an achievement which no other sportsperson can claim.

Leo is the greatest of all time. There were just two players who could be called the best in the earth history - Maradona and Pele, but there is also Messi, who is from another planet. Messi has the best dribbling, passes, shots, body's balance.. the most records in football history. It makes him the best ever. Football is the most popular sport on the world, so Messi should be called the best athlete ever.

15 Cristiano Ronaldo Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Italian club Juventus and the Portugal national team.

Cristiano Ronaldo deserves to be in the top 15 of this list. For me he is the most complete football player of all time. He has won 3 golden balls, 4 golden boots and many other individual awards. He also has won many trophies with his teams. He was part of a historical Manchester United team where he won the UEFA Champions League, the Barclays Premier League, the FIFA Club World Cup and many other trophies. Right now, Cristiano is 31 years old and he is already the top scorer in the history of Real Madrid, the top scorer of Portugal national team, the top scorer of UEFA Champions League and the top scorer of UEFA Euro. Many coaches said that Cristiano is something different. Ronaldo worked with great managers through the years like Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson, Manuel Pellegrini, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Rafael Benitez and all of them had good memories with the portuguese superstar. Surely one of he bests if not the best.

Often ranked the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, Ronaldo was named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation, during its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2015. He is the only player to win four European Golden Shoe awards. One of the most marketable athletes in sport, in 2016 Forbes named Ronaldo the world's best paid athlete. In June 2016, ESPN ranked him the world's most famous athlete.

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

He is the number one in when he becomes a legend he's coming the best legend in football history he is going to be even better than any athlete in the whole entire world I believe Cristiano is the best and if you don't believe in luck I Riel Madrid full day they always get gold away school Lowell possession is way better this week on my navel should Barcelona I bet Bilby when it so just believe it Christiana Rinaldo is the best player ever

16 Bruce Lee Bruce Lee was a Hong Kong American martial artist, action film actor, martial arts instructor, philosopher, filmmaker, and the founder of Jeet Kune Do.

Bruce Lee, the pioneer of MMA, he taught not to limit ones self to one style but learn many and become well rounded. This is a top ATHETES page, no other person listed was a more rounded and gifted athlete. 2% body fat, ripped and could outlast any of these athletes in almost any category, with the exception of Michael Phelps and swimming, who knows. He is superhuman and showed unbelievable athleticism, none of which any athletes posted here could even come close to. It seems like this more of a popularity contest. Really, MJ #1? Put Lee next to Jordan in any athletic category except high jumping of course and I'll bet he gets smoked!

Indeed my friend, Indeed. Bruce lee was an impressive physical specimen and extremely bright. He was ambitious and dedicated, or more so devoted to his "craft". He pushed the boundaries and reproved the false notions of what is possible. Hypothetically speaking of course, lets say aliens decided to visit our planet to observe the human capacity and articulation of combat and self defense. Bruce would without a doubt be the poster child. He displayed, to a great extent, what the human being can do regarding combat.

Bruce Lee is number 1 for sure. He was a freak of nature. He was on another planet altogether, which is why it's difficult to compare him to others. Failure was not an option for Bruce Lee. He was 99.99% accurate 99.99% of the time. No other athlete in any sport has anywhere near his level of proficiency. And why was he so great? Probably due to a freakishly superior nervous system including brains...

Tremendous athlete, probably the greatest of all time, the speed, the power, the tecnique, the fitness, the knowledge.
So many facets and complete package

17 Bobby Orr Robert Gordon Orr is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey players of all time.

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.

Beyond merely changing the game of hockey, Bobby Orr could keep control of the puck and make the other 9 players on the ice look like idiotic little kids. no one had seen that before, or since, not even in Gretzky. His +/- record of +124 wont be broken in the next 50 years, possibly ever. He simply dominated every game, end to end, that he ever played, and often on only one good knee. no one could touch him. The maradona of hockey in my opinion.

I have seen many great athletes - Jim Brown, Mohammed Ali, Federer to name a few. But the greatest of all was Bobby Orr. Unmatched grace and skill - so clearly better than his contemporaries or any players since that he deserved to play in his own league. As the great Booby Hull said - "He was better on one leg than the rest of us". by the way Orr won the scoring title twice.

The best hockey player ever, could do everything at top, blazing fast and got to top speed faster than anyone. Great play maker who not only got a ton of goals and assists as a defense man he led the league in +/-. I agree with Don Cherry in saying he was the greatest and put him ahead of Gretzky (and that is not meant to disrespect Grez but in my opinion Orr was that good

18 Wilt Chamberlain Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain was an American basketball player. He was born on August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia and died on October 12, 1999 in Los Angeles due to heart failure. more.

Ok idc what anyone thinks about Wilt, he was one of the greatest all around athletes ever. Sure, he was extremely selfish but to say all these other people are better than him is non-sense. I'd say he's up there with Ali, Jordan, Bo, and Bruce. This man did whatever he wanted to do. Led the league in assists because he felt like it, his defense was almost impossible to get by, his scoring was just insane, also a track star growing up and is in the volleyball hall of fame. He beat Jim Brown in a race, can bench more than Shaq and Wallace in his 50s, could grab a quarter off the top of the backboard (could jump to 13 feet), had an estimated 50 inch vertical, and lastly he kept his promises. When Magic Johnson entered the league he challenged him to a 1v1 and Wilt said to him "your not making any lay ups in this gym" and he proceeded to block all of Magic's shots. Also, during an NBA game he was matched up with NBA hall of famer, Walt Bellamy, who was averaging 31 points that season. ...more

The only big man to lead the NBA in assists. His rebounding and shot blocking I know they didn't record shot blocking for most of his career. He also blocked shots that remained in play instead of in the stands so the other team kept control of the ball. Rebounding was not only great but his ability to block other players so his teammates could get rebounds is almost never talked about. His scoring is talked about but not that during his 50 points a game season. If he scored only 27 points in one game (what's King James average last season that makes him so great? ) he would have to score 73 points to just get to his average! I know we do not compare centers with other positions or the era in which he played, but who has done it better please be specific with numbers. I know he didn't win many titles but he did when given teammates who could actually effect a game. Any body remember 1972 when Wilt and the Laker won 33 games in a row? Or 68 games for the season I know the Bulls won 69 ...more

He is 7 foot 1 & he had beat Jim Brown in a race at a party, He also was also one of the best volleyball players of all time after retirement. Wilt could play in any era.

Best athlete in History, should be at the top. A Paul Bunyon figure, 7'1, could run the 100 yards in 10 flat, the 440 in 49 (no current NBA could achieve this feat), jumped high enough to touch the top of the backboard or higher, strong enough to bully Artis Gilmore as if he were a child...he also had a wide array of skills, fundamentals and finesse that could be likened to the big fundamental Tim Duncan, there is even film to prove all of this. There is no comparison to Wilt, if you were to make one you could say he was a combination of the length and height of Rudy Gobert, with the speed and leaping of Andrew Wiggins, strength to overpower Shaquille O'Neal (Robert Parish played against Artis Gilmore and Shaq and stated himself that he felt Gilmore was far stronger. Gilmore is quoted to have been "lifted off the ground like a coffee cup" by Wilt. Wilt could bench over 600lbs in his prime, Shaq could never hit above 450. On top of all this, Wilt had the stamina to average 48.5 minutes ...more

19 Jim Brown James Nathaniel Brown is a former professional American football player and actor. He was a running back for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League from 1957 through 1965.

104.3 yards per game. 0 NFL games missed. 5.22 yards per carry. Led the NFL in rushing 8 of his 9 seasons, and the season he didn't finish first he played most of the season with a broken arm. Enough said. Greatest NFL player of all time and was so dominant in lacrosse that they made a rule after him (Having a crease around the goal). Former NFL players have been on record saying at age 50 he could still win the MVP in the NFL.

Jim brown is like #3or 4 this list is garbage Jim brown is the greatest NFL player ever and NFL athletes are doing like the hardest sport in the world and he is also a NCAA football (men's) hall of famer lacrosse hall of famer and NFL hall of famer he also won a championship won 4 MVPS including the one in his rookie season went to 8 pro bowls and he was a 6'2 FB I mean how many FBs win MVPs and he did this in 9 seasons due to his powerful defense-bashing and bruising body he had to retire early considering the beating his body took.

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.

I'm gonna guess many today are unaware of him.
Granted, this is subjective, and I don't diminish any of those above. Yet I strongly believe this man deserves to be in the top ten, or at least above some currently there.

20 Tom Brady Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr., is an American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. Brady is known for being the only quarterback in history to win 7 Super Bowls, and is often considered one of the best quarterbacks of all time. Brady is also frequently more.

After the Super Bowl 51 comeback, Brady won his fifth SuperBowl (most all time) and became a 4 time SuperBowl MVP (most all time). After this historic win, he's the greatest of all time in all sports, not just football. I watch him play ever since he got drafted. After watching him win all five of his SuperBowls, he's the greatest athlete to ever walk the earth. He's gonna keep winning more titles, especially a 6th SuperBowl. The rest is pretty much self explanatory. Love him or hate him, he's the GOAT for real, there's no question about it anymore, you can't dream of a career like his. There won't ever be someone better than Tom Brady.

I know many people hate him, but what other athlete has accomplished so much over so long a period of time, in a sport that is designed to not let you stay on top with the Salary cap. There are some amazing athletes on the list above him, but None of these other athletes played in such a challenging and competitive system that makes racking up championships repeatedly so hard. I really think this guy deserves his due as the best athlete ever.

Five rings that's even greater than Joe Montana. He is the GOAT and there is no discussion to it. If there was the battle would be won without a doubt, considering his record of most games won, most touchdown passes. He should definitely be put in the top 10. Other then all that he is a good person, donating regularly, and supporting many charities. You couldn't ask for a better person.

Your list is great especially the top 5 but makes no sense Montana. We are talking about athletes so how in the heck do you list him over Vick. If Vick has the weapons Montana head they would have won 5 straight Super Bowls

21 Gordie Howe Gordon "Gordie" Howe OC (March 31, 1928 – June 10, 2016) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. From 1946 to 1980, he played twenty-six seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Awe. #1 All around best athlete ever! What he did when being a hockey player meant keeping your job the hard way and totally loved to play. He owned the league and made it look easy. Tough, Good and a true idol for millions. Amazing. Chris

He played in the NHL until he was 51, he dominated every aspect of the game. One of the greatest athletes of all time.

Should be in the Top 10 simply for his longevity. Had tons of records as well.

22 Donald Bradman Sir Donald George Bradman often referred to as "The Don", was an Australian international cricketer, widely acknowledged as the greatest batsman of all time. Bradman's career Test batting average of 99.94 has been cited as the greatest achievement by any sportsman in any major sport.

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

As others have noted. Bradmans average over the length of his career was so far ahead of his contemporaries that they are judged against him to see how they go. So far, over 60 years after his retirement, his average score is still the benchmark all cricketers aspire to and no one can ever match. And considering that he lost 10 years of his career to world war 2, to have achieved what he did... Means that he is the greatest athlete in the world. Even Sachin Tendulkar would agree that he doesn't deserve to be above his personal hero 'The Don'.

Arguably the greatest sports person of all time. All sports had at least one competitor in the era they played in, like Maradona and Pele, who were statistically and skillfully close. This applies to all the major sports played in whichever era. But Sir Don Bradman was above all of his time, even now no one is even close to his record. Such was his greatness. He is statistically superior to all the Cricketers of all eras by a huge margin.

Unfortunately given the US bias towards only their own sports the Don has not been correctly identified as the greatest athlete of all time. It should go without saying that if a player is almost twice as good (statistically speaking) as the next person on the list (bat average of 99.94 for Bradman, 60.97 for Pollock) then they are likely pretty good at they are doing. Is M. Jordan have stats twice as good as the next best basketballer? I think not.

23 Jerry Rice Jerry Lee Rice is a former American football wide receiver who played 20 seasons in the National Football League, primarily with the San Francisco 49ers.

Jerry Rice was the best WR of all time & widely regarded as the best NFL Player of all time. I'm surprised Joe Montana is ahead of him.

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.

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.

Best nfl player of all time by far. His records double every other wide receiver's career high, He can never be replaced. He is one in a million

24 Tiger Woods Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer who is among the most successful golfers of all time.

If Tiger wasn't injured for about 4 years he would most likely be the greatest golfer of all time. But as of now, he is second in overall PGA tour wins (81), and major title wins (15). But I think he could possibly be better than Jack, when he got his 71st win, statistics showed that Tiger won 30% of tournaments he entered. Knowing how hard it is to do that against other big talents like Ernie Els, Vijay Singh. and Phil Mickelson. If you disagree that he is the greatest golfer ever, look at some of his victories, he won a couple of his tournaments by over 10 shots. Some of these wins were lucky, because the other competitors missed some easy putts, but that was because they were pressured by Tiger. Try golf out for yourselves and see some of Tiger's greatest shot and you will start to believe that Tiger is not possibly the greatest golfer of all time, but possibly one of the greatest and most dominant athletes ever.

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.

Tiger dominated his sport like no ever has during a time where the depth of talent in the fields was greater than ever before. He changed the sport of golf forever and created a new generation of players. And just when everyone was ready to count him out he came back and beat them all on the biggest stage in golf marking the greatest comeback in sports history. 82 wins 15 majors and countless unforgettable moments. Quite simply the GOAT. And he isn't done yet

Does he have a 50 inch vertical leap, or even a 25 inch vertical leap? Does he run a 3.9-40, or even a 5.5-40? Sure he is a great player of the game, but If you read the description of the list, you'd see this is based off athleticism not skill. Tiger Woods is NO match against pretty much ANY player of football, soccer, hockey, basketball, rugby etc. Tiger Woods is an AMAZING golfer, but not an athlete. Clearly somebody forgot to check the dictionary before they put this up...

25 Serena Williams Serena Jameka Williams is an American professional tennis player. The Women's Tennis Association ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time on July 8, 2002.

48? Are you kidding me? Why so low? Serena has won more grand slams in the open era than any other tennis players in history. Might I say that she has 23 to Roger Federer's 19, yet for some reason he is in the top 10. She also was pregnant when she won her 23 slam! Amazing! Yes, the men's and women's game are really different but that should not at all take anything away from her accomplishments. She has been dominating the women's game ever since her first grand slam win in the late 90's. That's nearly 20 years! How many people can be known to not only compete but to dominate their sport like Serena has for that long. Most likely a very small list. Please give credit where it's due and recognize how great of an athlete she is.

She's the most dominant athlete of all time. 23 Grand Slams! the only reason she isn't higher is because people don't watch women's tennis.

Serena made a big impact to the world of sports for female and blacks fighting for equal pay and funding for diversity and female empowerment. She boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years to make a point to stand up for racism and the only athlete in the world who has done this.

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.

8Load More
PSearch List