The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports
Ultimate List
1,070  items 124,072 votes 7,302 voters 170,435 views more info

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.
  • 110 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
</> Rerank List
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1440
    Down 934

    most listed 1961

    open
  2. 2
    Up 2206
    Down 1219

    the people's #1 1963

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1728
    Down 1060

    1942

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1131
    Down 841

    1940

    open
  5. 5
    Up 888
    Down 604

    1956

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1172
    Down 820

    1986

    open
  7. 7
    Up 987
    Down 600

    1956

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1079
    Down 913

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1985

    open
  9. 9
    Up 899
    Down 655

    1895

    open
  10. 10
    Up 466
    Down 292

    1967

    open
  11. 11
    Up 1192
    Down 675

    1962

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1149
    Down 842

    often listed 1981

    open
  13. 13
    Up 544
    Down 336

    1969

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1185
    Down 564

    ranked low on reranks 1940

    open
  15. 15
    Up 485
    Down 259

    added by Skojare 1956

    open
  16. 16
    Up 523
    Down 352

    1976

    open
  17. 17
    Up 610
    Down 349

    1975

    open
  18. 18
    Up 721
    Down 464

    1888

    open
  19. 19
    Up 398
    Down 199

    1903

    open
  20. 20
    Up 503
    Down 537

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1961

    open
  21. 21
    Up 699
    Down 572

    1959

    open
  22. 22
    Up 374
    Down 189

    added by JonathanWeider 1954

    open
  23. 23
    Up 460
    Down 255

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1973

    open
  24. 24
    Up 690
    Down 543

    1966

    open
  25. 25
    Up 608
    Down 428

    1913

    open
  26. 26
    Up 731
    Down 552

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1936

    open
  27. 27
    Up 443
    Down 227

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1983

    open
  28. 28
    Up 552
    Down 370

    often listed 1977

    open
  29. 29
    Up 853
    Down 541

    1987

    open
  30. 30
    Up 380
    Down 189

    1982

    open
  31. 31
    Up 400
    Down 190

    1967

    open
  32. 32
    Up 626
    Down 457

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1962

    open
  33. 33
    Up 576
    Down 386

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1968

    open
  34. 34
    Up 535
    Down 214

    ranked low on reranks & added by averagej123 1987

    open
  35. 35
    Up 367
    Down 180

    ranked low on reranks 1886

    open
  36. 36
    Up 546
    Down 363

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1919

    open
  37. 37
    Up 279
    Down 121

    ranked low on reranks 1978

    open
  38. 38
    Up 558
    Down 402

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1954

    open
  39. 39
    Up 669
    Down 709

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1975

    open
  40. 40
    Up 331
    Down 163

    ranked low on reranks 1969

    open
  41. 41
    Up 336
    Down 183

    added by JonathanWeider 1984

    open
  42. 42
    Up 318
    Down 176

    1989

    open
  43. 43
    Up 386
    Down 188

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  44. 44
    Up 281
    Down 222

    often listed 1965

    open
  45. 45
    Up 379
    Down 174

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  46. 46
    Up 396
    Down 172

    added by JonathanWeider Annie Thorisdottir

    open
  47. 47
    Up 316
    Down 203

    often listed 1985

    open
  48. 48
    Up 390
    Down 170

    added by JonathanWeider 1977

    open
  49. 49
    Up 175
    Down 141

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1967

    open
  50. 50
    Up 376
    Down 157

    added by JonathanWeider 1985

    open
  51. 1071 +

    Something missing? Add it!

Is this list missing something?
RANKERS WHO ADDED ITEMS + 43 MORE

items 1 - 50 of 1070

think you can do better?

Rerank This List

got a blog or website?

embed this list

viewers of this list also saw...

more popular lists