The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports

The Best Athletes of All Time

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104,072 views 933 items 96,894 votes 5,599 voters 132 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 1648
    Down 1007

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Michael Jordan

    1963 More
    100
  2. 2
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    1961 More
    99
  3. 3
    Up 1277
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    1942 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 833
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    1940 More
    89
  5. 5
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    Down 389
    1956 More
    87
  6. 6
    Up 761
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    1956 More
    85
  7. 7
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    controversial
    Usain Bolt

    1986 More
    85
  8. 8
    Up 672
    Down 520
    1895 More
    84
  9. 9
    Up 966
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    1962 More
    82
  10. 10
    Up 833
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    controversial
    Michael Phelps

    1985 More
    82
  11. 11
    Up 352
    Down 103
    1956 More
    80
    added by: Skojare
  12. 12
    Up 367
    Down 92
    1973 More
    79
    added by: JonathanWeider
  13. 13
    Up 341
    Down 92

    Michael Schumacher

    79
  14. 14
    Up 393
    Down 159
    1969 More
    79
  15. 15
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    Down 82
    1967 More
    79
  16. 16
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    1975 More
    78
  17. 17
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    controversial
    Roger Federer

    1981 More
    78
  18. 18
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    Down 89
    1983 More
    78
    added by: JonathanWeider
  19. 19
    Up 251
    Down 60
    1989 More
    77
  20. 20
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    controversial
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    77
  21. 21
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    controversial
    Carl Lewis

    1961 More
    77
  22. 22
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    1888 More
    76
  23. 23
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    1966 More
    75
  24. 24
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    1913 More
    75
  25. 25
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    1959 More
    74
  26. 26
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    1954 More
    74
    added by: JonathanWeider
  27. 27
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    1903 More
    74
  28. 28
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    1987 More
    73
    added by: averagej123
  29. 29
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    controversial
    Wilt Chamberlain

    1936 More
    73
  30. 30
    Up 250
    Down 72

    often listed
    Lindsey Vonn

    1984 More
    73
    added by: JonathanWeider
  31. 31
    Up 415
    Down 257

    controversial
    Tom Brady

    1977 More
    73
  32. 32
    Up 315
    Down 83
    1981 More
    73
    added by: JonathanWeider
  33. 33
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    Down 447

    controversial
    Lionel Messi

    1987 More
    73
  34. 34
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    1967 More
    73
  35. 35
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    1976 More
    73
  36. 36
    Up 277
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    1982 More
    72
  37. 37
    Up 265
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    1969 More
    72
  38. 38
    Up 316
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    1981 More
    72
    added by: JonathanWeider
  39. 39
    Up 324
    Down 83
    1977 More
    72
    added by: JonathanWeider
  40. 40
    Up 545
    Down 609

    controversial
    Tiger Woods

    1975 More
    72
  41. 41
    Up 330
    Down 90

    Annie Thorisdottir

    72
    added by: JonathanWeider
  42. 42
    Up 455
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    controversial
    Barry Sanders

    1968 More
    71
  43. 43
    Up 505
    Down 403
    1962 More
    71
  44. 44
    Up 461
    Down 355
    1954 More
    71
  45. 45
    Up 320
    Down 81
    1985 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  46. 46
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    Down 309
    1919 More
    71
  47. 47
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    1886 More
    71
  48. 48
    Up 299
    Down 58
    1978 More
    70
    added by: JonathanWeider
  49. 49
    Up 228
    Down 41
    1977 More
    70
    added by: JonathanWeider
  50. 50
    Up 239
    Down 104
    1985 More
    69
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