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.

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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 1963

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    most listed 1961

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    1942

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    1940

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    1956

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    1986

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1985

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    1895

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    1956

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    1981

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    1967

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    ranked low on reranks 1940

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    added by Skojare 1956

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    1976

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    1888

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    1966

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    1913

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    ranked low on reranks 1903

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1961

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    1936

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    added by JonathanWeider 1954

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    1987

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    1919

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    1954

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    added by JonathanWeider 1983

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    added by JonathanWeider 1973

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    1886

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    ranked low on reranks & added by averagej123 1987

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    1967

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1975

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    1978

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    added by JonathanWeider 1981

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    1989

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    often listed & added by RodneyBlair 1938

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    1969

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    added by JonathanWeider 1984

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    often listed 1965

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    1967

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    added by JonathanWeider 1981

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    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider Annie Thorisdottir

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1978

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    often listed 1961

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