Sports

The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film 

Ranker Film
Updated March 26, 2020 2.2k votes 331 voters 3.6k views 38 items

Rocky Balboa. Jake LaMotta. Roy Hobbs. The names are familiar to movie buffs and sports fans alike.The greatest athlete characters in film triumphed in a number of different sports, including boxing, baseball, football, and wrestling. But all of these top athlete characters have won over audiences with their on-screen stories.

Who are some of the best athlete characters in film? Rocky Balboa poured his heart into training – and pummeled his fists into slabs of beef – in the 1976 classic Rocky. This film athlete proved to be so popular that he appeared in seven movies over the course of 40 years. Mickey Rourke's portrayal of washed-up wrestler Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler earned him a Golden Globe in 2009. Michael Oher from The Blind Side is another great movie athlete, as well as a real-life inspiration.

But sports films can also be funny, as proven by hilarious athlete characters like Happy Gilmore (Adam Sandler), Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell), and, of course, Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) from Caddy Shack.

Which movie athlete do you think deserves the number-one spot on this list? Vote the best roles up to the top, and add any characters missing from the list.
list ordered by
1
Rocky Balboa is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V
2
Apollo Creed is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Carl Weathers in Rocky IV
3
Ricky 'Wild Thing' Vaugh... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Charlie Sheen in Major League II
4
Benjamin Franklin Rodrig... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added Mike Vitar in The Sandlot
5
Dottie Hinson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Geena Davis in A League of Their Own
6
Happy Gilmore is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore
7
Michael Oher is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Quinton Aaron in The Blind Side
8
Roy Hobbs is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Robert Redford in The Natural
9
Daniel Larusso is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid
10
Adonis Creed is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added Adonis Creed
11
Peter La Fleur is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added Vince Vaughn in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
12
Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettig... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Sean Astin in Rudy
13
Willie Mays Hayes is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added
14
Ivan Drago is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
starwarssuperfan added Ivan Drago Dolph Lundgren in Rocky V
15
Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Jake LaMotta Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
16
Crash Davis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Kevin Costner in Bull Durham
17
Ricky Bobby is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
18
Jesus Shuttlesworth is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Son Goku4 added Jesus Shuttlesworth Ray Allen in He Got Game
19
Ranker Video
carlybobarly added
20
Ty Webb is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Chevy Chase in Caddyshack
21
Johnny Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added Johnny Lawrence William Zabka in The Karate Kid
22
Rod Tidwell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added
23
Santiago Munez is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Son Goku4 added Santiago Munez
24
Shane Falco is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
carlybobarly added Keanu Reeves in The Replacements
25
Calvin Cambridge is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Athlete Characters in Film
Son Goku4 added Bow Wow in Like Mike