The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports

The Best Athletes of All Time

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105,412 views 935 items 98,051 votes 5,659 voters 134 followers 97reranks
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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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 1660
    Down 1015

    the people's #1 &most listed
    Michael Jordan

    1963 More
    100
  2. 2
    Up 1128
    Down 602
    1961 More
    100
  3. 3
    Up 1286
    Down 884
    1942 More
    93
  4. 4
    Up 840
    Down 647
    1940 More
    89
  5. 5
    Up 687
    Down 393
    1956 More
    88
  6. 6
    Up 779
    Down 414
    1956 More
    85
  7. 7
    Up 880
    Down 671

    often listed &controversial
    Usain Bolt

    1986 More
    84
  8. 8
    Up 677
    Down 521

    often listed
    Babe Ruth

    1895 More
    83
  9. 9
    Up 973
    Down 552
    1962 More
    82
  10. 10
    Up 837
    Down 776

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Michael Phelps

    1985 More
    81
  11. 11
    Up 368
    Down 106

    ranked low on reranks
    Björn Borg

    1956 More
    80
    added by: Skojare
  12. 12
    Up 286
    Down 83
    1967 More
    80
  13. 13
    Up 409
    Down 161
    1969 More
    79
  14. 14
    Up 355
    Down 96

    Michael Schumacher

    79
  15. 15
    Up 380
    Down 95
    1973 More
    78
    added by: JonathanWeider
  16. 16
    Up 463
    Down 147
    1975 More
    78
  17. 17
    Up 920
    Down 723

    often listed &controversial
    Roger Federer

    1981 More
    78
  18. 18
    Up 370
    Down 93
    1983 More
    77
    added by: JonathanWeider
  19. 19
    Up 262
    Down 61
    1989 More
    77
  20. 20
    Up 397
    Down 419

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Carl Lewis

    1961 More
    76
  21. 21
    Up 924
    Down 469

    controversial
    Bruce Lee

    1940 More
    76
  22. 22
    Up 586
    Down 385
    1888 More
    76
  23. 23
    Up 550
    Down 435

    controversial
    Mike Tyson

    1966 More
    75
  24. 24
    Up 487
    Down 356
    1913 More
    74
  25. 25
    Up 557
    Down 488

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Magic Johnson

    1959 More
    74
  26. 26
    Up 272
    Down 127

    often listed &ranked low on reranks
    Lou Gehrig

    1903 More
    73
  27. 27
    Up 589
    Down 486

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Wilt Chamberlain

    1936 More
    73
  28. 28
    Up 282
    Down 85
    1954 More
    73
    added by: JonathanWeider
  29. 29
    Up 422
    Down 111

    ranked low on reranks
    Maria Sharapova

    1987 More
    73
    added by: averagej123
  30. 30
    Up 292
    Down 92

    ranked low on reranks
    Yelena Isinbayeva

    1982 More
    73
  31. 31
    Up 420
    Down 258

    often listed
    Tom Brady

    1977 More
    72
  32. 32
    Up 360
    Down 231
    1976 More
    72
  33. 33
    Up 321
    Down 92

    ranked low on reranks
    Boris Becker

    1967 More
    72
  34. 34
    Up 680
    Down 447

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Lionel Messi

    1987 More
    72
  35. 35
    Up 262
    Down 77
    1984 More
    72
    added by: JonathanWeider
  36. 36
    Up 548
    Down 609

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Tiger Woods

    1975 More
    72
  37. 37
    Up 266
    Down 84
    1969 More
    71
  38. 38
    Up 327
    Down 88

    ranked low on reranks
    Elena Dementieva

    1981 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  39. 39
    Up 508
    Down 403

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jerry Rice

    1962 More
    71
  40. 40
    Up 457
    Down 333

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Barry Sanders

    1968 More
    71
  41. 41
    Up 318
    Down 93
    1981 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  42. 42
    Up 334
    Down 89
    1977 More
    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  43. 43
    Up 340
    Down 95

    ranked low on reranks
    Annie Thorisdottir

    71
    added by: JonathanWeider
  44. 44
    Up 463
    Down 355

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Walter Payton

    1954 More
    71
  45. 45
    Up 443
    Down 310

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Jackie Robinson

    1919 More
    70
  46. 46
    Up 188
    Down 64

    Katarina Witt

    70
  47. 47
    Up 278
    Down 124
    1886 More
    70
  48. 48
    Up 248
    Down 104

    often listed
    Wayne Rooney

    1985 More
    70
  49. 49
    Up 330
    Down 87
    1985 More
    69
    added by: JonathanWeider
  50. 50
    Up 605
    Down 574

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    LeBron James

    1984 More
    69
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