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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  • 131 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 age 52

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    most listed age 54

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  3. 3
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    age 29

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 30

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  9. 9
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    Died at 53 (1895-1948)

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  11. 11
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    age 59

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    ranked low on reranks Died at 33 (1940-1973)

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  13. 13
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 46

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  14. 14
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 48

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  15. 15
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    Died at 67 (1913-1980)

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  16. 16
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    Died at 65 (1888-1953)

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  17. 17
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    ranked low on reranks age 28

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  18. 18
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    added by Skojare age 59

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  19. 19
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  20. 20
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    Died at 63 (1936-1999)

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  22. 22
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    age 49

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  23. 23
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    ranked low on reranks age 47

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  24. 24
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    age 38

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  25. 25
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    age 53

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  26. 26
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    Died at 38 (1903-1941)

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  27. 27
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  28. 28
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    Died at 53 (1919-1972)

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  29. 29
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    Died at 46 (1953-1999)

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  30. 30
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 54

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  31. 31
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    added by JonathanWeider age 61

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  32. 32
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    Died at 75 (1886-1961)

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  33. 33
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    added by JonathanWeider age 32

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  34. 34
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 40

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  35. 35
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    ranked low on reranks & added by averagej123 age 28

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  36. 36
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    often listed age 50

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  37. 37
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  38. 38
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    age 39

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    age 37

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  44. 44
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 48

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  45. 45
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  46. 46
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    Died at 64 (1931-1995)

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  47. 47
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    added by JonathanWeider age 31

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  48. 48
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  49. 49
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  50. 50
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks age 55

    ) open
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