The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports

The Best Athletes of All Time

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135,199 views 945 items 107,568 votes 6,373 voters 151 followers 95reranks
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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    1. 1
      Up 1877
      Down 1114

      the people's #1 &most listed
      Michael Jordan

      1963 More
      100
    2. 2
      Up 1271
      Down 714
      1961 More
      99
    3. 3
      Up 1459
      Down 950
      1942 More
      94
    4. 4
      Up 948
      Down 728

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Pelé

      1940 More
      89
    5. 5
      Up 776
      Down 477
      1956 More
      86
    6. 6
      Up 1006
      Down 725
      1986 More
      84
    7. 7
      Up 878
      Down 490

      ranked low on reranks
      Larry Bird

      1956 More
      84
    8. 8
      Up 769
      Down 575

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Babe Ruth

      1895 More
      83
    9. 9
      Up 944
      Down 827

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Michael Phelps

      1985 More
      82
    10. 10
      Up 1050
      Down 611
      1962 More
      79
    11. 11
      Up 1019
      Down 763

      often listed
      Roger Federer

      1981 More
      79
    12. 12
      Up 436
      Down 170

      ranked low on reranks
      Michael Schumacher

      78
    13. 13
      Up 475
      Down 235
      1969 More
      77
    14. 14
      Up 1021
      Down 503
      1940 More
      77
    15. 15
      Up 350
      Down 153
      1967 More
      76
    16. 16
      Up 424
      Down 177
      1956 More
      76
      added by: Skojare
    17. 17
      Up 435
      Down 472

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Carl Lewis

      1961 More
      75
    18. 18
      Up 424
      Down 165
      1973 More
      75
      added by: JonathanWeider
    19. 19
      Up 631
      Down 413

      often listed
      Jim Thorpe

      1888 More
      75
    20. 20
      Up 524
      Down 220
      1975 More
      75
    21. 21
      Up 413
      Down 155

      ranked low on reranks
      Carolina Klüft

      1983 More
      74
      added by: JonathanWeider
    22. 22
      Up 604
      Down 473

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Mike Tyson

      1966 More
      73
    23. 23
      Up 609
      Down 522

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Magic Johnson

      1959 More
      73
    24. 24
      Up 427
      Down 272
      1976 More
      73
    25. 25
      Up 288
      Down 109

      ranked low on reranks
      Nastia Liukin

      1989 More
      73
    26. 26
      Up 327
      Down 149

      ranked low on reranks
      Lou Gehrig

      1903 More
      73
    27. 27
      Up 489
      Down 300
      1977 More
      72
    28. 28
      Up 644
      Down 513

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Wilt Chamberlain

      1936 More
      72
    29. 29
      Up 518
      Down 390
      1913 More
      72
    30. 30
      Up 748
      Down 481

      often listed
      Lionel Messi

      1987 More
      72
    31. 31
      Up 329
      Down 123
      1954 More
      72
      added by: JonathanWeider
    32. 32
      Up 600
      Down 648

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Tiger Woods

      1975 More
      71
    33. 33
      Up 476
      Down 157

      ranked low on reranks
      Maria Sharapova

      1987 More
      70
      added by: averagej123
    34. 34
      Up 307
      Down 118

      ranked low on reranks
      Lindsey Vonn

      1984 More
      70
      added by: JonathanWeider
    35. 35
      Up 494
      Down 357

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Barry Sanders

      1968 More
      70
    36. 36
      Up 543
      Down 425

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Jerry Rice

      1962 More
      70
    37. 37
      Up 337
      Down 136
      1982 More
      70
    38. 38
      Up 361
      Down 133
      1967 More
      70
    39. 39
      Up 358
      Down 128

      ranked low on reranks
      Lauren Jackson

      1981 More
      70
      added by: JonathanWeider
    40. 40
      Up 490
      Down 373

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Walter Payton

      1954 More
      70
    41. 41
      Up 379
      Down 129

      Annie Thorisdottir

      70
      added by: JonathanWeider
    42. 42
      Up 480
      Down 326

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Jackie Robinson

      1919 More
      69
    43. 43
      Up 296
      Down 115
      1969 More
      69
    44. 44
      Up 316
      Down 149

      often listed &ranked high on reranks
      Ty Cobb

      1886 More
      69
    45. 45
      Up 346
      Down 82

      ranked low on reranks
      Kerri Walsh Jennings

      1978 More
      69
      added by: JonathanWeider
    46. 46
      Up 226
      Down 89

      often listed
      Katarina Witt

      69
    47. 47
      Up 356
      Down 129
      1981 More
      69
      added by: JonathanWeider
    48. 48
      Up 368
      Down 125
      1977 More
      69
      added by: JonathanWeider
    49. 49
      Up 359
      Down 119
      1985 More
      68
      added by: JonathanWeider
    50. 50
      Up 285
      Down 144

      often listed
      Wayne Rooney

      1985 More
      68
    51. 946 +

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