The Best Athletes of All Time People In Sports
Ultimate List
1,083  items 131,343 votes 7,732 voters 184,913 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.
  • 116 ReRanks
    • Women
    • Men
    • Age
    • Region
  • See list ranked by
The List
Comment
Embed
Options
rerank list
  1. 1
    Up 2376
    Down 1286

    the people's #1 1963

    open
  2. 2
    Up 1516
    Down 1037

    most listed 1961

    open
  3. 3
    Up 1865
    Down 1117

    1942

    open
  4. 4
    Up 1226
    Down 890

    1940

    open
  5. 5
    Up 961
    Down 667

    1956

    open
  6. 6
    Up 1256
    Down 864

    1986

    open
  7. 7
    Up 1149
    Down 950

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1985

    open
  8. 8
    Up 1047
    Down 654

    1956

    open
  9. 9
    Up 965
    Down 688

    1895

    open
  10. 10
    Up 1256
    Down 713

    1962

    open
  11. 11
    Up 499
    Down 342

    1967

    open
  12. 12
    Up 579
    Down 376

    1969

    open
  13. 13
    Up 1221
    Down 876

    1981

    open
  14. 14
    Up 1272
    Down 590

    ranked low on reranks 1940

    open
  15. 15
    Up 513
    Down 301

    added by Skojare 1956

    open
  16. 16
    Up 572
    Down 399

    1976

    open
  17. 17
    Up 756
    Down 497

    1888

    open
  18. 18
    Up 748
    Down 585

    1966

    open
  19. 19
    Up 647
    Down 448

    1913

    open
  20. 20
    Up 642
    Down 412

    1975

    open
  21. 21
    Up 744
    Down 603

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1959

    open
  22. 22
    Up 422
    Down 227

    ranked low on reranks 1903

    open
  23. 23
    Up 535
    Down 571

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1961

    open
  24. 24
    Up 389
    Down 223

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1954

    open
  25. 25
    Up 774
    Down 578

    1936

    open
  26. 26
    Up 910
    Down 569

    1987

    open
  27. 27
    Up 585
    Down 400

    1977

    open
  28. 28
    Up 667
    Down 478

    1962

    open
  29. 29
    Up 611
    Down 407

    1968

    open
  30. 30
    Up 577
    Down 380

    1919

    open
  31. 31
    Up 472
    Down 293

    added by JonathanWeider 1973

    open
  32. 32
    Up 454
    Down 258

    added by JonathanWeider 1983

    open
  33. 33
    Up 593
    Down 418

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1954

    open
  34. 34
    Up 397
    Down 215

    1982

    open
  35. 35
    Up 385
    Down 199

    1886

    open
  36. 36
    Up 413
    Down 218

    1967

    open
  37. 37
    Up 554
    Down 243

    ranked low on reranks & added by averagej123 1987

    open
  38. 38
    Up 702
    Down 735

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1975

    open
  39. 39
    Up 295
    Down 147

    1978

    open
  40. 40
    Up 397
    Down 212

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  41. 41
    Up 332
    Down 200

    1989

    open
  42. 42
    Up 97
    Down 68

    often listed & added by RodneyBlair 1938

    open
  43. 43
    Up 345
    Down 186

    1969

    open
  44. 44
    Up 349
    Down 206

    added by JonathanWeider 1984

    open
  45. 45
    Up 301
    Down 238

    often listed 1965

    open
  46. 46
    Up 388
    Down 199

    added by JonathanWeider 1981

    open
  47. 47
    Up 406
    Down 195

    added by JonathanWeider Annie Thorisdottir

    open
  48. 48
    Up 192
    Down 157

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1967

    open
  49. 49
    Up 394
    Down 190

    ranked low on reranks & added by JonathanWeider 1977

    open
  50. 50
    Up 127
    Down 86

    often listed & ranked high on reranks 1962

    open
1084 +

Something missing? Add it!

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