The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports
Ultimate List
1,078  items 124,489 votes 7,322 voters 170,965 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 1444
    Down 939

    most listed 1961

    open
  2. 2
    Up 2218
    Down 1222

    the people's #1 1963

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1739
    Down 1062

    1942

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1139
    Down 843

    1940

    open
  5. 5
    Up 894
    Down 609

    1956

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1180
    Down 823

    1986

    open
  7. 7
    Up 991
    Down 605

    1956

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1083
    Down 918

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1985

    open
  9. 9
    Up 902
    Down 658

    1895

    open
  10. 10
    Up 1194
    Down 680

    1962

    open
  11. 11
    Up 469
    Down 296

    1967

    open
  12. 12
    Up 1155
    Down 844

    1981

    open
  13. 13
    Up 547
    Down 339

    1969

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1190
    Down 564

    ranked low on reranks 1940

    open
  15. 15
    Up 488
    Down 261

    added by Skojare 1956

    open
  16. 16
    Up 527
    Down 355

    1976

    open
  17. 17
    Up 610
    Down 353

    1975

    open
  18. 18
    Up 721
    Down 467

    1888

    open
  19. 19
    Up 400
    Down 201

    1903

    open
  20. 20
    Up 504
    Down 539

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1961

    open
  21. 21
    Up 610
    Down 429

    1913

    open
  22. 22
    Up 701
    Down 576

    1959

    open
  23. 23
    Up 374
    Down 193

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1954

    open
  24. 24
    Up 692
    Down 546

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1966

    open
  25. 25
    Up 461
    Down 259

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1973

    open
  26. 26
    Up 735
    Down 554

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1936

    open
  27. 27
    Up 444
    Down 230

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1983

    open
  28. 28
    Up 553
    Down 373

    1977

    open
  29. 29
    Up 855
    Down 544

    1987

    open
  30. 30
    Up 382
    Down 191

    ranked low on reranks 1982

    open
  31. 31
    Up 630
    Down 458

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1962

    open
  32. 32
    Up 581
    Down 386

    1968

    open
  33. 33
    Up 400
    Down 193

    ranked low on reranks 1967

    open
  34. 34
    Up 549
    Down 364

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1919

    open
  35. 35
    Up 537
    Down 217

    ranked low on reranks & added by averagej123 1987

    open
  36. 36
    Up 561
    Down 402

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1954

    open
  37. 37
    Up 369
    Down 182

    ranked low on reranks 1886

    open
  38. 38
    Up 671
    Down 711

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1975

    open
  39. 39
    Up 279
    Down 125

    1978

    open
  40. 40
    Up 338
    Down 184

    added by JonathanWeider 1984

    open
  41. 41
    Up 320
    Down 177

    1989

    open
  42. 42
    Up 331
    Down 165

    1969

    open
  43. 43
    Up 386
    Down 190

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  44. 44
    Up 284
    Down 222

    often listed 1965

    open
  45. 45
    Up 397
    Down 173

    added by JonathanWeider Annie Thorisdottir

    open
  46. 46
    Up 379
    Down 176

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  47. 47
    Up 316
    Down 206

    often listed 1985

    open
  48. 48
    Up 391
    Down 172

    added by JonathanWeider 1977

    open
  49. 49
    Up 177
    Down 142

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1967

    open
  50. 50
    Up 359
    Down 112

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1978

    open
  51. 1079 +

    Something missing? Add it!

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

items 1 - 50 of 1078

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