The top 10 all-time greatest athletes: What records did they break?

The top 10 all-time greatest athletes: What records did they break?

The world of sports is a large one encompassing a series of activities that have produced people whose success has been described with the all-time greatest athlete title. These sportsmen have set records, broken them, and set a new standard for the upcoming generation to follow.

All-time greatest athletes
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Source: UGC

When the discussion of all-time greatest athletes comes up, it usually carries a couple of baggage regarding whether you distinguish between male and female participation. Sometimes, it is even harder because several sports have existed for decades. Hence, several great players worth mentioning have been produced in those years.

Top greatest athletes of all-time

Who are the greatest athletes of all time? What makes them better as the GOATs compared to others? Below is all you need to know:

1. Michael Jordan

all-time greatest athletes
Co-owner of 23XI racing and NBA Hall of Fame, Michael Jordan, looks on during qualifying for the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400. Photo: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Michael Jeffrey Jordan
  • Date of birth: 17 February 1963
  • Age: 59 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Brooklyn, New York, USA
  • Profession: Basketball player, businessman

Who is the greatest athlete in the world? Michael Jeffrey Jordan was a maestro with the ball in his hands and shattered records while leaping toward the baskets in the NBA. He is the only player in the history of the NBA to have scored 30.12 points per game in a regular season and 33.45 points per game career playoff average.

More so, he is the only player in NBA history to have earned more money than the cumulative earnings of the rest of the team in a year, specifically in 1998, when he made $33.1 million in salary.

2. Muhammad Ali

who is the greatest athlete in the world?
Cassius Clay, a 20-year-old heavyweight contender from Louisville, Kentucky, poses for the camera in Bronx, New York. Photo: Stanley Weston
Source: Getty Images
  • Birth name: Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.
  • Nickname: The Greatest
  • Date of birth: 17 January 1942
  • Date of death: 3 June 2016
  • Age at death: 74 years old
  • Place of birth: Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  • Profession: Boxing

Who is the most respected athlete of all time? As his admirers fondly called him, The Greatest was the epitome of putting in a good fight in and outside the ring but mostly in the ring. He was named The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times and received several awards, including the Presidential medal of freedom in 2005.

Muhammad's fight records show that he had 56 wins, 37 of which were knockouts. He experienced only five losses throughout his career. He was inducted into the Olympic and Boxing Hall of Fame in 1984 and 1991, respectively.

3. Tiger Woods

  • Full name: Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods
  • Date of birth: 30 December 1975
  • Age: 46 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Cypress, California, USA
  • Profession: Golfer

Tiger is often referred to as the greatest closer in history, and it is to his credit he has won several PGA Tours. He is the only player to have successively won all four major championships available to professionals; he achieved this during the 2000–2001 seasons.

More so, he was world number one for 683 weeks in his entire career, and 281 were consecutive. He was world number one for eight years, starting in 2001 and ending in 2009.

4. Dale Earnhardt Sr

who is the greatest athlete in the world?
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Sr sits in his race car while it is repaired after an accident during the 1981 Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Robert Alexander/Archive Photos
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Ralph Dale Earnhardt Sr.
  • Nickname: The Intimidator
  • Date of birth: 29 April 1951
  • Date of death: 18 February 2001
  • Age at death: 49 years old
  • Place of birth: Kannapolis, North Carolina, U.S.A
  • Profession: Car racer

Dale was nicknamed The Intimidator because of his feisty style at the wheel of a race car. He is regarded as one of the greatest ever to grace the sport, even though it is over two decades since he passed away from an auto crash.

He won the IROC championship thrice in 1990, 1995, and 1999, respectively. He is the first car racer in the history of American Motor Sports to reach $30 million in winnings. He was top ten in the Winston Cup points standings 20 times in his 22 full seasons in NASCAR.

5. Roger Federer

greatest track and field athletes of all time
Roger Federer of Team Europe acknowledges the fans as they enter the centre court during Day Three of the Laver Cup at The O2 Arena in London, England. Photo: Julian Finney
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Roger Federer
  • Nickname: Federer Express
  • Date of birth: 8 August 1981
  • Age: 41 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
  • Profession: Lawn Tennis player

Federer's career began in 1998 and only came to an end in 2022. However, he broke many records over two decades of hitting a tennis ball with a racket. He was world number one for 310 weeks and did it consecutively for a record 237 weeks.

He won 20 grand slams in 31 final appearances and appeared at the Grand Slam Quarterfinals and Semifinals for a record 58 and 46 times, respectively. Federer Express won 369 Grand Slam singles matches, a record that has remained untouched.

6. Serena Williams

  • Full name: Serena Jameka Williams
  • Nickname: Momma Smash, Serena Stoutarm
  • Date of birth: 26 September 1986
  • Age: 41 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Saginaw, Michigan, USA
  • Profession: Professional Tennis player

This African-American tennis player is one of the greatest female athletes of all time can look up to achievement-wise. Serena won a total of 39 major titles. She dominated the singles Grand Slam winning 23 titles on the road. She won 14 women's doubles and two mixed doubles titles.

Serena was ranked world number one by the Women's Tennis Association for 186 consecutive weeks out of a total of 319 weeks that she held the title. She holds the most combined major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles among active players, with 39:23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and two in mixed doubles. She is joint-third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era for total major titles.

7. Wayne Gretzky

greatest track and field athletes of all time
Former NHL player Wayne Gretzky plays his shot from the second tee during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am final round at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Photo: Harry How
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Wayne Douglas Gretzky
  • Nickname: The Great One
  • Date of birth: 26 January 1961
  • Age: 61 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Brantford, Ontario, Canada
  • Profession: Ice Hockey player

Colleagues and sports pundits have dubbed him the greatest player in ice hockey history. He is the only player in the National Hockey League to accumulate over 200 points in a season, and he did this four times.

Besides, he has the most career assists in hockey history with 1,963 points. The Greatest One is also the most free-scoring player, with 2,857 career points. He scored 50 goals in 39 games which he has admitted is one of the records he takes the most pride in.

8. Bo Jackson

  • Full name: Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson
  • Nickname: Wild Boar
  • Date of birth: 30 November 1962
  • Age: 59 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  • Profession: Baseball, American football player

The Wild Boar is the only player named an All-Star while playing American football and baseball professionally. Vincent Bo still retains the record for most 90+ yards runs from scrimmage with two.

Jackson hit a minimum of 20 home runs four times while playing in just 135 games for the Royals. He retired in 1991 and 1994 from football and baseball, respectively, owing to a hip injury.

9. Carl Lewis

greatest athletes of all time female
Former Olympian Carl Lewis is recognised on the field during the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas Photo: Benjamin Solomon
Source: Getty Images
  • Full name: Frederick Carlton Lewis
  • Nickname: Son of the Wind
  • Date of birth: 1 July 1961
  • Age: 61 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  • Profession: Sprinter, long jumper

King Carl, as he was sometimes called, was a great sportsman who excelled in track and field events. He still holds the record for the longest jump he set during a 1984 indoor long jump competition. He is also the only man to successfully defend a long jump title in the Olympics.

Carl Lewis held the world record for the 100 meters in 1991 when he reached the finish line in 9.86 seconds. He enjoyed an impressive 65 consecutive triumphs in the long jump spanning over a decade, and it remains one of the longest undefeated streaks in the sport.

10. Pele

  • Full name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento
  • Nickname: Dico, Pelé
  • Date of birth: 23 October 1940
  • Age: 81 years old (as of 2022)
  • Place of birth: Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  • Profession: Soccer player

Pelé has won several awards for the magic he performed with a ball at his feet during his active playing years, which spanned between 1953 and 1977. He scored 1,279 goals in 1,363 games played, which has kept him in the Guinness World Record for most goals scored by a soccer player.

He won three World Cups with the Brazilian national team in 1958, 1962, and 1970 respectively. He is the youngest player to have won the World Cup at 17 years and 249 days.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Who is the greatest female athlete of all time? Serena Williams, Mia Hamm, Lindsey Vonn, and Babe Didrikson Zaharias will always come to mind.
  2. Who is the greatest athlete in the world? There is no specific answer to this, but the likes of Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan, and Muhammad Ali would be frontrunners to claim this title.
  3. Who is the greatest athlete of all time? Bo Jackson may qualify for this title because he is the only player who has successfully played in two sports (baseball and football).
  4. Who are the greatest track and field athletes of all time? Athletes such as Paavo Nurmi, Usain Bolt, Carl Lewis, and Allyson Felix have shone brightly on the track and field.
  5. Who is the most liked athlete? Different stats have shown that Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous and loved sports personality in the world, with millions of followers across various social media platforms.
  6. Who is the purest athlete of all time? Jim Thorpe is regarded as the best as he reportedly never practised but could play football better than most players in his generation.

The list of all-time greatest athletes is not written in stone and may vary depending on who you are asking. However, one undeniable thing about the list above is that the names mentioned have changed the face of the respective sports they represent(ed).

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So, what churches have accumulated more wealth than others, and how much are they worth? Check out the post to find out more.

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