The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports
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The Best Athletes of All Time

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

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.

  • 141 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3549
    - 1890

    the people's #1 age 52

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 2188
    - 1797

    most listed age 54

    ) open
  3. 3
    + 2834
    - 1583

    ranked low on reranks age 73

    ) open
  4. 4
    + 1913
    - 1393

    age 75

    ) open
  5. 5
    + 1869
    - 1342

    age 29

    ) open
  6. 6
    + 1361
    - 1280

    often listed age 59

    ) open
  7. 7
    + 1215
    - 646

    ranked low on reranks Died at 67 (1913-1980)

    ) open
  8. 8
    + 1642
    - 1464
    ) open
  9. 9
    + 1858
    - 1169

    age 53

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 1729
    - 1345
    ) open
  11. 11
    + 1385
    - 1134

    Died at 53 (1895-1948)

    ) open
  12. 12
    + 1402
    - 1135

    age 59

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 1822
    - 1077

    Died at 33 (1940-1973)

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 851
    - 781

    often listed age 39

    ) open
  15. 15
    + 1099
    - 858

    Died at 63 (1936-1999)

    ) open
  16. 16
    + 772
    - 794

    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 46

    ) open
  17. 17
    + 1452
    - 1033
    ) open
  18. 18
    + 341
    - 63

    ranked low on reranks & added by nico Randy Savage (randall Mario Poffo)

    ) open
  19. 19
    + 1046
    - 947
    ) open
  20. 20
    + 1051
    - 973

    age 49

    ) open
  21. 21
    + 957
    - 1046

    often listed age 40

    ) open
  22. 22
    + 1032
    - 854

    Died at 65 (1888-1953)

    ) open
  23. 23
    + 937
    - 773

    age 53

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 880
    - 682
    ) open
  25. 25
    + 887
    - 759

    age 38

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 794
    - 597

    Died at 53 (1919-1972)

    ) open
  27. 27
    + 796
    - 623

    Died at 46 (1953-1999)

    ) open
  28. 28
    + 687
    - 654

    added by Skojare age 59

    ) open
  29. 29
    + 596
    - 452

    Died at 38 (1903-1941)

    ) open
  30. 30
    + 848
    - 830

    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 37

    ) open
  31. 31
    + 664
    - 802

    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 48

    ) open
  32. 32
    + 693
    - 813

    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 54

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 543
    - 358
    ) open
  34. 34
    + 428
    - 304

    ranked low on reranks age 47

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 450
    - 346

    age 67

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 685
    - 530
    ) open
  37. 37
    + 440
    - 388
    ) open
  38. 38
    + 488
    - 432

    added by JonathanWeider age 61

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 515
    - 382

    Died at 75 (1886-1961)

    ) open
  40. 40
    + 319
    - 259
    ) open
  41. 41
    + 468
    - 368

    added by JonathanWeider age 31

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 560
    - 478

    added by JonathanWeider age 42

    ) open
  43. 43
    + 180
    - 178

    often listed & added by JonathanWeider Died at 76 (1897-1973)

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 863
    - 819
    ) open
  45. 45
    + 529
    - 413
    ) open
  46. 46
    + 206
    - 152
    ) open
  47. 47
    + 550
    - 467

    added by JonathanWeider age 32

    ) open
  48. 48
    + 495
    - 401
    ) open
  49. 49
    + 212
    - 212

    often listed & added by RodneyBlair age 77

    ) open
  50. 50
    + 226
    - 191

    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 70

    ) open
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