The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports

The Best Athletes of All Time

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105,600 views 935 items 98,749 votes 5,697 voters 134 followers 97reranks
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. The sports stars that rise to the top can be considered to be the best athletes of all time.

Aspects to consider in picking a best athlete of all time would include, obviously, that player's raw talent and born ability. Some individuals seem to prodigally gifted in their sport of choice, and it's hard to discount the importance of this kind of natural talent. However, it's also important to evaluate hard work, discipline and a commitment to the game. Some athletes may not have the natural, genetic ability to dunk a basketball or hit a home run, but nonetheless have trained to the point of reaching these goals all the same. (They may not be the greatest athlete of all time at all sports, but they have mastered their activity.)

Finally, it can be a challenge to compare an athlete who competed in a solo competition with a member of a well known sports organization or club. How do you look at the achievements of, say, a boxer like Muhammad Ali alongside an athlete like Michael Jordan, who had to not only perform to his own best abilities but work as a cohesive unit along with other members of his team? These are the questions that must be answered when compiling a list of the world's greatest all-time athletes.

For more sports news and athlete trade rumors, vote on this list of sports news sites.

List Criteria: Open to all amateur or professional athletes in any sport

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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1660
    Down 1017

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Michael Jordan

    1963 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 1156
    Down 602
    1961 More
    100
  3. 3
    Up 1286
    Down 885
    1942 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 839
    Down 649
    1940 More
    89
  5. 5
    Up 711
    Down 393
    1956 More
    89
  6. 6
    Up 799
    Down 414

    ranked low on reranks
    Larry Bird

    1956 More
    85
  7. 7
    Up 880
    Down 671

    often listed
    Usain Bolt

    1986 More
    84
  8. 8
    Up 678
    Down 522

    often listed
    Babe Ruth

    1895 More
    83
  9. 9
    Up 973
    Down 553

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Bo Jackson

    1962 More
    82
  10. 10
    Up 837
    Down 777

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Michael Phelps

    1985 More
    81
  11. 11
    Up 395
    Down 106

    ranked low on reranks
    Björn Borg

    1956 More
    81
    added by: Skojare
  12. 12
    Up 311
    Down 84
    1967 More
    81
  13. 13
    Up 435
    Down 162
    1969 More
    80
  14. 14
    Up 380
    Down 96

    Michael Schumacher

    80
  15. 15
    Up 404
    Down 97
    1973 More
    79
    added by: JonathanWeider
  16. 16
    Up 483
    Down 148
    1975 More
    79
  17. 17
    Up 393
    Down 95
    1983 More
    78
    added by: JonathanWeider
  18. 18
    Up 921
    Down 723

    often listed
    Roger Federer

    1981 More
    78
  19. 19
    Up 271
    Down 61
    1989 More
    77
  20. 20
    Up 397
    Down 419

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Carl Lewis

    1961 More
    76
  21. 21
    Up 924
    Down 469
    1940 More
    76
  22. 22
    Up 586
    Down 385
    1888 More
    76
  23. 23
    Up 550
    Down 436

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Mike Tyson

    1966 More
    75
  24. 24
    Up 487
    Down 357

    often listed
    Jesse Owens

    1913 More
    74
  25. 25
    Up 286
    Down 127
    1903 More
    74
  26. 26
    Up 318
    Down 92

    ranked low on reranks
    Yelena Isinbayeva

    1982 More
    74
  27. 27
    Up 305
    Down 87
    1954 More
    74
    added by: JonathanWeider
  28. 28
    Up 557
    Down 490

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Magic Johnson

    1959 More
    74
  29. 29
    Up 385
    Down 231

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Peyton Manning

    1976 More
    73
  30. 30
    Up 445
    Down 258

    often listed
    Tom Brady

    1977 More
    73
  31. 31
    Up 445
    Down 111

    ranked low on reranks
    Maria Sharapova

    1987 More
    73
    added by: averagej123
  32. 32
    Up 344
    Down 93

    ranked low on reranks
    Boris Becker

    1967 More
    73
  33. 33
    Up 286
    Down 78
    1984 More
    73
    added by: JonathanWeider
  34. 34
    Up 590
    Down 488

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Wilt Chamberlain

    1936 More
    73
  35. 35
    Up 681
    Down 447

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Lionel Messi

    1987 More
    72
  36. 36
    Up 548
    Down 609

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Tiger Woods

    1975 More
    72
  37. 37
    Up 280
    Down 85

    ranked low on reranks
    Oliver Kahn

    1969 More
    72
  38. 38
    Up 341
    Down 95

    ranked low on reranks
    Lauren Jackson

    1981 More
    72
    added by: JonathanWeider
  39. 39
    Up 363
    Down 98

    ranked low on reranks
    Annie Thorisdottir

    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  40. 40
    Up 457
    Down 333

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Barry Sanders

    1968 More
    71
  41. 41
    Up 204
    Down 64

    Katarina Witt

    71
  42. 42
    Up 508
    Down 403

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jerry Rice

    1962 More
    71
  43. 43
    Up 265
    Down 104
    1985 More
    71
  44. 44
    Up 354
    Down 95
    1977 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  45. 45
    Up 343
    Down 98

    ranked low on reranks
    Elena Dementieva

    1981 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  46. 46
    Up 463
    Down 355

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Walter Payton

    1954 More
    71
  47. 47
    Up 291
    Down 124
    1886 More
    71
  48. 48
    Up 443
    Down 312

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jackie Robinson

    1919 More
    70
  49. 49
    Up 325
    Down 59

    ranked low on reranks
    Kerri Walsh

    1978 More
    70
    added by: JonathanWeider
  50. 50
    Up 347
    Down 96

    ranked low on reranks
    Libby Lenton

    1985 More
    69
    added by: JonathanWeider
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