The greatest athletes of all time: a list of the most dominant, iconic athletes to ever play sports. This list gathers sports stars from across every professional league, as well as amateur athletes who may have never competed professionally, in one overall list. Though it may be challenging to compare performance in a variety of different competitive arenas requiring different skill sets, this list nevertheless attempts to distinguish the top, highest-performing and most successful athletes ever to play. Here is the list of top 10 best athletes of all time.
Top 10 Best Athletes of All Time
10. Usain Bolt
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt (born August 21, 1986) is arguably the fastest man in the world, winning three gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, and becoming the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100-meter and 200-meter races in record times. Bolt also won three Olympic gold medals at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
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9. Ingemar Stenmark
Jan Ingemar Stenmark (born 18 March 1956 in Joesjö, Sweden) is a former World Cup alpine ski racer from Sweden. He won a record 86 World Cup racesduring his 15-year career. He dominated the slalom and giant slalom courses, winning titles in both events for seven consecutive years, from 1975 to 1981. A three-time winner of the overall World Cup, Stenmark also has two Olympic and three World Championship gold medals.
8. Pete Sampras
Petros Sampras (born August 12, 1971) is an American retired tennis player widely regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport. He showed exceptional athletic ability at an early age and turned professional when he was 16. A five-time U.S. Open winner and seven-time Wimbledon champion, he dominated the sport for most of the 1990s.
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7. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini was born on June 26, 1968 in Milan, Lombardy, Italy. He is an Italian former professional footballer who played as a left-back and central defender for A.C. Milan and the Italy national team. He won 23 trophies with Milan while in the squad: the UEFA Champions League five times, seven Serie A titles, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana titles, four European Super Cups, two Intercontinental Cups and one FIFA Club World Cup.
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6. Marco van Basten
Marco van Basten was born on October 31, 1964 in Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands. He is a former Dutch footballer and was most recently the manager of the Netherlands national football team. He led the Dutch league in scoring for four consecutive seasons with AFC Ajax, then won three Ballon d’Or Awards with Italy’s AC Milan. His career cut short at age 30 by an ankle injury, van Basten went on to serve as the Dutch national team coach and manager of Ajax.
5. John McEnroe
John McEnroe was born on February 16, 1959 in Wiesbaden, Hesse, Germany. He is is a retired American tennis player. He made a splash by advancing to the 1977 Wimbledon semifinals at 18 years old. He went on to win several Grand Slam championships, earning fame for his impressive skills and rivalry with Björn Borg along with a volatile court persona. After retiring in 1992, he forged a successful second career as a television analyst.
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4. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali was born on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky. He was an American professional boxer and activist. Ali was the first fighter to win the world heavyweight championship on three separate occasions; he successfully defended this title 19 times. He became an Olympic gold medalist in 1960 and the world heavyweight boxing champion in 1964.
3. Michael Jordan
Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 17, 1963. He was American collegiate and professional basketball player, widely considered to be the greatest all-around player in the history of the game. He led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association championships and earned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award five times.
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Pelè, was on born 23 October 1940 in Três Coraçōes, Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is a former Brazilian football player. Pelé is the most successful league goal scorer in the world, with 678 league goals. Pelé played professionally in Brazil for two decades, winning three World Cups along the way, before joining the New York Cosmos late in his career. He has scored a total of 1281 goals in 1363 games.
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1. Julius Erving “Dr J”
Julius Erving ,commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, was born in Hempstead, New York, in 1950. He is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim. Erving won three championships, four Most Valuable Player Awards, and three scoring titles with the ABA’s Virginia Squires and New York Nets and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. Upon retiring in 1987, he had played in more than 800 games, scoring an average of 22 points per game.