Sports

The Most Influential Athletes Right Now  

Ranker Sports
10.8k votes 665 voters 1.8k views 71 items

List Rules Vote up the current athletes who continue to push the boundaries of their sport each time they play.

Whether they're top stars of their sport or they're changing the way the game's played, these are the most influential current athletes. Keep in mind, simply being the best isn't the only thing that constitutes an influential athlete. While these stars are certainly at the top of their class, they're also recognized for the contributions they make to the world of sports, among many other factors and achievements. All things considered, who do you think are the most influential athletes right now? Could they go down as the most influential athletes of all time?

When it comes to iconic athletes, no player may be making headlines and dominating their sport more than Lebron James. He breaks a record almost any time he steps on the court, making him one of the best current NBA players, as well as of all time. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, and the MLB's Mike Trout are really no different. These star athletes continually prove themselves to be the best out right now—and they continue to contribute to their sport. Of course, there are plenty more names to consider in determining the most influential athletes actively competing. 

Check out the list of notable athletes below and vote up the sports stars you think are influencing generations and players to come. Also feel free to add others that may be missing from the list.

list ordered by
1
Cristiano Ronaldo is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 34
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, GOIH, known as Cristiano Ronaldo, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid C.F. and the Portugal national team. He is a ...more
2
Maria Sharapova is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 31
Maria Yuryevna Sharapova is a Russian professional tennis player, who as of October 6, 2014 is ranked world No. 2 by the Women's Tennis Association. A United States resident since 1994, ...more
3
Roger Federer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 37
Tennis player Roger Federer (born August 8, 1981) is a Swiss tennis professional, currently ranked World No. 1. Many experts and many of his own tennis peers believe that Federer may be the ...more
4
Novak Djokovic is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 31
Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals. He is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players ...more
5
Rafael Nadal is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 29
Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera is a Spanish professional tennis player currently ranked world No. 5. He is widely regarded as one of the finest clay court players in history and has been ...more
6
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 32
Usain St. Leo Bolt, OJ, CD, is a Jamaican sprinter. Widely regarded as the fastest person ever, he is the first man to hold both the 100 metres and 200 metres world records since fully automatic ...more
7
Mikaela Shiffrin is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Spector404 added age 23
Mikaela Pauline Shiffrin is an American World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team, specializing in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic, World ...more
8
Neymar is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 27
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar or Neymar Jr., is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and is the captain for the Brazil ...more
9
Virat Kohli is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 30
Virat Kohli is an Indian cricketer. A right-handed middle-order batsman, he is the captain of the Indian Test team. He captained the victorious Indian team at the 2008 U/19 Cricket World Cup ...more
10
Manny Pacquiáo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
age 40
Emmanuel "Manny" Dapidran Pacquiao, PLH is a Filipino world champion professional boxer. At 32 he was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives. He has also been involved in ...more
11
Ryu So-Yeon is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Ryu So-Yeon age 28
So Yeon Ryu, also known as Ryu So-yeon, is a South Korean professional golfer who plays on the LPGA Tour and on the LPGA of Korea Tour. She won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.
12
Manuel Neuer is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Tattoo added age 32
Manuel Peter Neuer is a German footballer who plays as a goalkeeper for Bayern Munich and the German national team. He has been described as a "sweeper-keeper" because of his unique ...more
13
Charlotte Kalla is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Charlotte Kalla 32
14
Sebastian Vettel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Tattoo added age 31
Sebastian Vettel is a German Formula One racing driver, currently driving for Scuderia Ferrari. He is contracted to remain in that role until at least the end of 2017. He is a four-time Formula ...more
15
Kevin Mayer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Kevin Mayer
16
Katinka Hosszú is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added age 29
Katinka Hosszú is a female Hungarian swimmer, who has competed three times at the Summer Olympics: 2004, 2008, and 2012. She currently swims for the Vasas SC, Hungary, under head coach
17
Annie Thorisdottir is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added Annie Thorisdottir
18
Ilya Zakharov is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Ilya Zakharov
19
Max Heß is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Max Heß
20
Lewis Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Tattoo added age 34
Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton, MBE is a British Formula One racing driver from England, currently racing for the Mercedes AMG team. He is the 2008 and 2014 Formula One World Champion. Hamilton ...more
21
Naomi Osaka is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
DavidLleraYT(David) added Naomi Osaka age 20

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese professional tennis player, and current US Open Women's Singles champion. She first came to prominence at the age of sixteen when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic, which was her first time in the main draw of a WTA tournament. 

22
Dafne Schippers is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added age 26
Dafne Schippers is a Dutch athlete competing in heptathlon and the sprints.
23
Karsten Warholm is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Karsten Warholm
24
Johannes Vetter is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Daedalos added Johannes Vetter
25
Laura Dahlmeier is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential Athletes Right Now
Hormony added age 25
Laura Dahlmeier is a German biathlete. Dahlmeier started in her first world cup races in the 2012/13-season. In 2014 she participated in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. She was officially ...more