best sportsmen

Best Sportsmen Of All Time

Best Sportsmen All-Time List

ADDucation’s best sportsmen of all time list honors the sportsmen that have changed their sport, country or had a wider impact on the world in general. Obviously it can never be a complete list but if you’re aware of a sporting legend that isn’t already on our best sportsmen list please add your comments to this page and we’ll consider adding him.

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Key to Best Sportsmen: WC=World Championship | IM=International matches | TV=Tournament Victory | EC=European Championship

Sportsman Name Country Birth Death Sport Best Sportsmen Achievements
Aamodt, Kjetil André Norway 1971 Alpine skiing 4 x Gold, 2 x Silver, 2 x bronze at the Olympics, 5 x WC, 1 x WC, 21 World Cup wins
Agassi, Andre USA 1970 Tennis 64 TV, 8 Grand Slam victories (4 x Australian Open), 101 weeks at No. 1
Agostini, Giacomo Italy 1942 Motorcycle Racing 15 x WC, 122 Grand Prix wins
Ali, Muhammad USA 1942 2016 Boxing Born “Cassius Clay”, Ali won in 56 of 61 fights, 3 x WC, 1 x Gold at the Olympics. Famous for fights which became known as “[video_lightbox_youtube video_id=”J6Hey54O6Qs” width=”640″ height=”480″ anchor=”the rumble in the jungle”]” and “the thriller in Manilla” and was an active campaigner for black rights. Without doubt a 20th century icon in addition to being one of the best sportsmen of all time.
Aljechin, Alexander Russia 1892 1946 Chess Grandmaster (1914), world champion (1927-35, 37-46), highest ELO in history (2860)
Beamon, Bob USA 1946 Athletics Long Jump Summer Olympic Champion (1968), record distance of 8.90 m held for 23 years
Bjørndalen, Ole Einar Norway 1974 Biathlon 5 x Gold, 3 x Silver, 1 x bronze at the Olympics, 14 x World Champion
Bonds, Barry USA 1964 Baseball A total of 756 home runs, including a record 73 home runs in one season
Borg, Björn Sweden 1956 Tennis 62 tournament wins, 11 Grand Slam victories (5 x Wimbledon, French Open 6 x)
Brady, Tom USA 1977 American Football The greatest quarterback in NFL history has played for the New England Patriots (Foxborough, Massachusetts) since 2000. During his nine appearances at the Super Bowl, he has won the title six times (4 x Super Bowl MVP). He has thrown more than 6,000 passes over a total distance of 70,500 yards and scored 517 touch downs. He is married to top model Gisele Bündchen.
Bubka, Sergej Ukraine 1963 Athletics 1 x Gold at the Olympics (1988), 6 x WC, 1 x EC pole vault
Charlton, Bobby England 1937 Football
Soccer
1 x World Champion (1966), 3 x English Champion, 1 x European Cup, 106 IM, 49 goals. Sir Robert “Bobby” Charlton is one of the most famous English sportsmen, a midfielder in the England 1966 World Cup winning team and one of the best sportsmen in the footballing world.
Connors, Jimmy USA 1952 Tennis 109 tournament victories, 10 Grand Slam victories (5 x US Open), 268 weeks at rank 1.
Cruyff, Johan The Netherlands 1947 Football / Soccer 1 x Vice World Champion (1974) 9 x NL Champion, 6 x NL Cup winners, 1 x Spanish champion
Daehlie, Björn Norway 1967 Cross-country skiing 8 x Gold, 4 x Silver at the Olympics, 9 x World Champion.
Dunkerbeck, Björn Denmark 1969 Windsurfing / Sailing 41 x World Champion, over 100 race wins (the most successful professional athlete of all time).
Ewry, Raymond USA 1873-1937 Athletics 8 x Gold at the Olympics (1900-1908), 15 x US champion.
Fangio, J. Manuel Argentina 1911-1995 Formula 1 5 x World Champion, 24 victories in 51 Grand Prix starts.
Federer, Roger Switzerland 1981 Tennis 76 tournament wins, 17 Grand Slam wins (7 x Wimbledon, 5 x US Open, 4 x Australian Open, 1 x French Open)
Fischer, Bobby USA 1943-2008 Chess Won WC in 1972 in the “Match of the Century” against Boris Spassky (WC 1969-1972).
Foreman, George USA 1949 Boxing 76 victories (68 KO) in 81 fights, gold at the Olympics, WC at 44
Garrincha
Brazil 1933-1983 Football / Soccer 2 x World Champion (1958/1962), 50 IM, 12 goals
Gretzky, Wayne Canada 1961 Hockey 4 x Stanley Cup, total 894 goals and 1963 assists
Hayes, Bob USA 1942-2002 American Football 2 gold medals at the Olympics (100 m + relay, 1964 in Tokyo), 1 x Super Bowl (1971)
Heiden, Eric USA 1958 Speed Skating 5 x Gold at the Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid (1980)
Hinault, Bernard France 1954 Cycling 5 x Tour de France winner (78,79,81,82,85), 3 x Giro d’ Italia, 1 x road WC (1980)
Induráin, Miguel Spain 1964 Cycling 5 x Tour de France winner (1991-1995), 2 x Giro d’ Italia, 1 x Gold at the Olympics
Johnson, (Earvin) Magic USA 1959 Basketball 1 gold medal at the Summer Olympics, 5 x NBA champion, 17,700 points in 905 games
Jones, Bobby USA 1902-1971 Golf 4 x US Open, 3 x Open Championship, 1 x British Championship (all 1922-1930)
Jordan, Michael USA 1963 Basketball 2 x Olympic gold, 6 x NBA champion (Chicago Bulls), 32,292 points in 1,072 games
Karpow, Anatoli Russia 1951 Chess World Champion 1975-1985, FIDE World Champion from 1993-1999, ELO rating: 2780
Kasparov, Garri Russia 1963 Chess Grandmaster (1980) and World Champion 1985-2000, 2nd highest ELO rating in history (2851)
Keino, Kipchogo Kenya 1940 Athletics 2 x Gold, 2 x Silver at the Olympics (1968, 1972), 2 x African champion
Kempes, Mario Argentina 1954 Football / Soccer 1 x World Champion (1978), 2 x Spanish Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 x Argent. Master, 1 x European Cup
Killy, Jean-Claude France 1943 Alpine skiing 3 x Gold at the Olympics in 1968, 6 x WC, 1 x WC
Klitschko, Vitali Ukraine 1971 Boxing 35 wins (34 by KO) in 37 fights, WBO and WBC WC, European Champion
Klitschko, Vladimir Ukraine 1976 Boxing 58 wins (51 by KO) in 61 fights, WC of IBF, WBO, WBA and IBO
Lasker, Emanuel Germany 1868 1941 Chess From 1894 to 1921 consecutive World Chess Champion. Even at the age of 66 years he was third in 1935.
Lauda, Niki Austria 1949 Formula 1 3 x WC (1975, 1977, 1984), 25 wins in 171 races, 420.5 WC – points
Lemieux, Mario Canada 1965 Hockey Gold at the Olympics in 2002, 2 x Stanley Cup, 7 x NHL All Star, 690 Goals in 915 Games
Lendl, Ivan Czech Republic 1960 Tennis 8 x Grand Slam, 100 tournament victories, 1070 Games won
Lewis, Carl USA 1961 Athletics 9 x gold, 1 silver at the Summer Olympics, 8 x World Champion
Louis, Joe USA 1914 1981 Boxing The “Brown Bomber” won 69 of 72 fights, World Champion for 12 years, (1937-1949)
Maier, Hermann Austria 1972 Alpine skiing 2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze medal at the Olympics, 3 x WC, 4 x WC, 54 World Cup wins
Marciano, Rocky USA 1923 1969 Boxing 49 wins in 49 fights (of which 43 KO), World Champion from 1952 to 1956
Maradona, Diego Argentina 1960 Football 1 x World Champion (1986), 1 x Vice World Champion (1990) 2 x Ital. Master, 1 x UEFA Cup
McEnroe, John USA 1959 Tennis Singles: 7 x Grand Slams (3 x Wimbledon, 4 x US Open) Doubles: 7 x Grand Slams. Total: 155 TV
Merckx, Eddy Belgium 1945 Cycling 5 x Tour de France winner (1969,70,71,72,74), 5 x Giro d’ Italia, 4 x road WC
Messi, Lionel Argentina 1987 Football / Soccer Junior WC 2005, gold at the 2008 Olympics, 5 x Spanish champion, 2 x Span. cup, 3 x Champions League, UEFA Cup 2 x, 4 x World Footballer of the Year
Messner, Reinhold Italy 1944 Mountaineering Ascended all 14 eight-thousanders without oxygen, crossed Antarctic on foot
Moses, Edwin USA 1955 Athletics 2 gold, 1 bronze medal at the Olympics, 2 x WCs, 3 x World Cup Winner
Naish, Robby USA 1963 Windsurfing 24 x world champion in windsurfing, 3 x world champion in kite surfing
Niklaus, Jack USA 1940 Golf 113 TV, 18 Major victories (6 x Masters, US Open 4 x, 5 x PGA Championship)
Nurmi, Paavo Finland 1897 1973 Athletics 9 x Gold, 3 x Silver at the Olympics, 24 world records
Nykänen, Matti Finland 1963 2019 Ski Jumping 46 World Cup victories, 7 x WC, 4 x Gold, 1 x Silver at the Olympics, 4 x WC, 2 x 4 Hills Tournament
O‘Neal, Shaquille USA 1972 Basketball 1 x Gold at the Olympics (1996), 1 x WC (1994), 4 x NBA champion
Owens, Jesse USA 1913 1980 Athletics 4 x Gold at the Olympics (1936), 6 world records in only 45 minutes
Phelps, Michael USA 1985 Swimming 15 x Gold, 2 x bronze at the Olympics, 17 x World Champion
Pelé Brazil 1940 Football / Soccer 3 x WC (1958,1962,1970), 5 x Brazil champion, 1281 goals in 1363 games (WR)
Pippen, Scottie USA 1965 Basketball 2 gold medals at the Olympics, 6 x NBA champion
Platini, Michel France 1955 Football / Soccer 1 x EC (1984), 71 IM, 41 goals, UEFA Cup (1984), 1 x French Champion, 2 x Ital. master
Prost, Alain France 1955 Formula 1 4 x World Champion, 51 wins in 199 races
Puskas, Ference Hungary 1927 2006 Football / Soccer 1 x Vice WC (1954), 85 IM, 84 goals, 4 x Hungarian Champion, 5 x Spanish Champion
Ronaldo Brazil 1976 Football / Soccer 1 x WC (2002), 1 x Vice WC (1998), 1 x UEFA Cup, 3 x World Player of the Year.
Rossi, Paolo Italy 1956 Football / Soccer 1 x World Champion (1982)
Sailer, Toni Austria 1935 2009 Alpine skiing 3 x Gold at the Olympics in 1956, 7 x WC, 170 World Cup victories (became an actor later in life)
Sampras, Pete USA 1971 Tennis 14 x Grand Slam wins (7 x Wimbledon, 5 x US Open), 286 weeks Rank 1 (record).
Schranz, Karl Austria 1938 Alpine skiing 1 x silver at the Olympics in 1964, 3 x WC, 2 x WC, 12 World Cup wins
Schumacher, Michael Germany 1969 Formula 1 7 x World Champion, 91 wins, 68 pole positions. Also highest no. of fastest laps, races won in a single season, and most consecutive podium finishes.
Senna, Ayrton Brazil 1964 1994 Formula 1 3 x World Champion, 41 wins, 65 pole positions. Ayrton died when his car crashed into a concrete barrier during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. His death lead to changes to F1 safety rules which has undoubtedly saved the lives other racing drivers. A 2010 documentary movie titled Senna depicts the life and death of this best sportsmen.
Spitz, Mark USA 1950 Swimming 9 x gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze medal at the Olympics, (retired when 22).
Stenmark, Ingemar Sweden 1956 Alpine skiing 2 gold, 1 bronze medal at the Olympics, 5 x WC, 86 World Cup wins, 3 x WC.
Thorpe, James USA 1888 1953 Athletics The Indian was considered the best sportsmen and”natural talent” of the 20th century. Won the Olympic gold medal in the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912.
Tomba, Alberto Italy 1966 Alpine skiing 3 x gold, 2 x silver at the Olympics, 2 x WC, 50 World Cup victories, 1 x WC
Tyson, Mike USA 1966 Boxing 50 wins in 58 fights, 2 x WBC champion, 2 x WBA champion, 1 x IBF WC. Would also make a list of infamous sportsmen!
Weissmuller, Johnny USA 1904 1984 Swimming 5 x Gold at the Olympics (1924/1928), 51 world records, Olympic bronze medal in water polo.
Woods, Tiger USA 1975 Golf 91 TV, 14 Major victories (4 x PGA, Masters 4 x 3 x US Open), ranked #1 for over 500 weeks.
Zatopek, Emil Czech Republic 1922 2000 Athletics 4 x Gold at the Olympics (1948, 1952), 3 x EC.
Zico Brazil 1953 Football / Soccer 88 IM, 66 goals, 4 x Braz. Master, 1 x World Cup (1981), World Player of the Year 1983.
Zidane, Zinedine France 1972 Football / Soccer 1 x WC (1998), 1 x Vice WC, 1 x EC (2000), 1 x CL, 3 x World Player of the Year.
Zoff, Dino Italy 1942 Football / Soccer 1 x World Champion (1982), 6 x Italian Champion, 2 x Ital. Cup, 1 x UEFA Cup.
Zurbriggen, Pirmin Switzerland 1963 Alpine skiing 1 x gold, 1 x bronze medal at the Olympics, 4x WC, 4x WC, 40 World Cup wins.

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