Athletes The Greatest Individual Rivalries in Sports History  

RickHamel
1.4k votes 343 voters 18.3k views 28 items
These are some of the greatest feuds, vendettas, and rivalries between individuals in the history of sports. Some were heated and personal, while some were built on mutual respect and competitive greatness. All of them captivated the attention of sports fans and provided some of the most memorable moments in sports history.
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Individual Rivalries in Sports History
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1 136 VOTES

Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier

Ali-Frazier is synonymous with boxing rivalries. They met three times, the first two going the 15-round distance in brutal fashion while the third was only stopped after Frazier's corner would not let him go out for the final round. Frazier's victory in the first bout was Ali's first career loss, one Ali would avenge in the second fight. The third fight, the "Thrilla in Manila", was one of those rare fights that actually exceeded the hype and gave Ali the victory in the rubber match between these two legends.
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Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Individual Rivalries in Sports History
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Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird

This one started in college, when Bird's Indiana State Sycamores met Magic's Michigan State Spartans in the 1979 NCAA title game. As fate would have it, Bird and Magic would land on the two most storied franchises in the NBA, the Celtics and Lakers. The rivalry continued to flourish with Bird's Celtics claiming three NBA titles while Magic's Lakers won five. Johnson and the Lakers took two of the three head-to-head finals matchups.
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Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Individual Rivalries in Sports History
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Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal

So far Federer and Nadal have met 28 times, with Nadal holding a 18-10 advantage. For six straight years from 2005 to 2010 they finished 1-2 in the world rankings, the longest streak for any two men in tennis.
They each hold records for consecutive wins on a single surface, Federer on grass and hardcourts and Nadal on clay, and each streak was broken by the other.
While their rivalry is intense and competitive, they each maintain respect for each other and a cordial relationship. The two have collaborated to hold charity tennis matches, including the "Match for Africa" and "Joining Forces for the Benefit of Children,". Nadal and Federer split the two charity matches
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Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Individual Rivalries in Sports History
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Wilt Chamberlain vs. Bill Russell

Probably the best "big man" rivalry in basketball history. Russell's Celtics won 11 titles while Wilt managed just 1 with the Lakers, but the two dominated an era of basketball history. Russell was known as a great shot-blocker and rebounder, while Chamberlain was perhaps the leagues best offensive player. All of this combined to form a legendary matchup for the ages whenever the two met.
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