Famous 20th Century American Sportspersons

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century American Sportspersons, including Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, John Cena, Dwayne Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century American Sportspersons

 1 Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson
70
Famous As: Professional wrestler, Actor
Birthdate: May 2, 1972
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hayward, California, United States

A renowned former wrestler with numerous titles under his belt, Dwayne Johnson initially wanted to be a football player but an injury turned him towards wrestling. He soon entered the world of acting, experienced phenomenal success in television and films and became the highest earning male actor in the world.

 2 Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan
58
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 17, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

A superstar, a legend and the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan is all this and much more. Very few athletes can match up with his level of popularity and impact. And if that is not enough, he is also the richest former professional athlete in the world.

 3 Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
38
Famous As: One of the Greatest Basketball Players of All Time
Birthdate: August 23, 1978
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: January 26, 2020

The former professional basketball player, Kobe Bryant, was drafted into NBA immediately after his school and went on to become one of the most successful basketball players of his generation. During his career of two decades, the Los Angeles Lakers player created numerous new records. He authored a book and one of his poems even inspired an animated short film.

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 4 Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee
22
Famous As: Actor, Martial Artist
Birthdate: November 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: July 20, 1973

An iconic actor and martial artist, Bruce Lee, in his short life, gained international fame and developed his own form of martial arts, Jeet Kune Do. In films, he debuted as a child actor and became a huge Hollywood star after the release of his last film Enter the Dragon.

 5 Shaquille O’ Neal

Shaquille O’ Neal
15
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: March 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newark, New Jersey, United States

Shaquille O'Neal is an American former basketball player who currently works as a sports analyst. Considered one of the greatest basketballers ever, O'Neal was also one of the heaviest and tallest players of all time. One of the most important players in the history of LA Lakers, O'Neal helped the team win three consecutive NBA championships between 2000 and 2002.

 6 The Undertaker

The Undertaker
68
Famous As: Professional wrestler
Birthdate: March 24, 1965
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States

Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, The Undertaker is currently signed to WWE. In a career spanning over three decades, he has clinched the world heavyweight championship seven times. He has appeared in a few films and TV shows as well. In 2004, he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

 7 Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson
18
Famous As: First Heavyweight Boxer to Simultaneously Hold the WBA, WBC & IBF Titles
Birthdate: June 30, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fort Greene, New York, United States

A former professional boxer who reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion for three years, Mike Tyson is considered a colossal figure in boxing. Claiming his first heavyweight title at the young age of 20, he went on to become one of the best heavyweights of all time. Also a controversial person, he was once imprisoned on rape charges.

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 8 Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
28
Famous As: One of the Greatest Quarterbacks of All Time
Birthdate: March 24, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

American football quarterback Peyton Manning played 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and four with the Denver Broncos, winning a Super Bowl with each, thus becoming the only person to achieve the feat. Also known as “The Sheriff,” the talented player has NFL records for passing yards and touchdowns.

 9 Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
11
Famous As: The Greatest Point Guard of All Time
Birthdate: August 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lansing, Michigan, United States

Magic Johnson, the now retired American basketball player was one of the most powerful players of the 1980s and led NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers to five championships during his thirteen years career. His real name is Earvin Johnson and he earned his nickname Magic during his high school days. He retired after testing positive for HIV and currently heads Magic Johnson Enterprises.

 10 Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
8
Famous As: One of the Greatest Golfers of All Time
Birthdate: December 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cypress, California, United States

Tiger Woods is considered as one of the greatest golfers of all time. He had a great run throughout the first decade of the 21st century. Later he had to deal with infidelity issues, marital problems and divorce and injuries, but was able to make a comeback. He holds numerous golf records and has won many World Golf Championship.

 11 Triple H

Triple H
42
Famous As: Retired Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: July 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nashua, New Hampshire, United States

Often considered the best wrestler in North America, Triple H played an important role in the World Wrestling Federation's Attitude Era as part of the influential D-Generation X stable. From being a professional wrestler, he went on to become a part of WWE's management team after marrying CEO Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie. Triple H is a WWE Hall of Famer

 12 Venus Williams

Venus Williams
21
Famous As: One of the Greatest Tennis Players of All Time
Birthdate: June 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lynwood, California, United States

Regarded as one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time, Venus Williams is credited with introducing never seen before power and athleticism to women's tennis along with her sister Serena. She is also credited with changing the long-standing practice of paying male tennis players more than their female counterparts as she won the fight for equal prize money.

 13 Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson
6
Famous As: First African-American to Play in Major League Baseball
Birthdate: January 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cairo, Georgia, United States
Died: October 24, 1972
The first African-American to play in MLB in the modern era, Jackie Robinson helped herald the end of racial segregation in baseball. He broke the baseball color line and encouraged black players not to be confined to the Negro leagues alone. In 1962, he became a Baseball Hall of Fame inductee.

 14 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
12
Famous As: One of the Best Players in NBA History
Birthdate: April 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

Retired basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a legendary NBA champion and its all-time leading scorer. Known for his trademark skyhook shot, he achieved remarkable feats during his career. Later, he pursued a successful writing and acting career and was even selected U.S. global cultural ambassador. The NBA star is also the proud recipient of the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 15 Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan
51
Famous As: Retired Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: August 11, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Augusta, Georgia, United States

Former American professional wrestler Hulk Hogan had a very successful career from the 1970s to the 2010s and won many championships. He has also acted in several movies. However, he has been accused of being a racist and a homophobic and a leaked sex tape involving him created quite a stir.

 16 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
14
Famous As: Martial Artist, Actor
Birthdate: March 10, 1940
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryan, Oklahoma, United States

A black belt in Tang Soo Do, Brazilian jiu jitsu and Judo, Chuck Norris is an American martial artist, screenwriter and a popular action film star. He has won many martial arts championships. He later founded his own discipline, Chun Kuk Do. He has also written books on martial arts, philosophy, politics, Christianity, plus Western novels and biography.

 17 Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
10
Famous As: One of the Greatest Basketball Players
Birthdate: August 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: October 12, 1999
One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Wilt Chamberlain created numerous records and won two championships during his fourteen years career. The legendary player, first drafted by Philadelphia Warriors, later played for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. After retirement, he ventured into business, played volleyball, appeared in commercials and movie and even published his autobiography.

 18 Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson
12
Famous As: One of the Greatest Scorers in Basketball
Birthdate: June 7, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hampton, Virginia, United States

Former professional basketball player, Allen Iverson, is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential basketball players of all time. He retired after playing 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for various teams. At the time of his retirement, he was an 11-time NBA All-Star. A popular star, he has made a few cameo appearances in films.

 19 Ric Flair

Ric Flair
51
Famous As: Regarded as the Greatest Professional Wrestler of All Time
Birthdate: February 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Ric Flair, or The Nature Boy, is a 16-time wrestling world champion and has competed in NWA, WWF, and WCW. He became the first two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee and the first to compete in WCW's Triple Crown. He has been Wrestling Observer’s Wrestler of the Year eight times.

 20 Larry Bird

Larry Bird
8
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: December 7, 1956
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: West Baden Springs, Indiana, United States

Considered one of the greatest basketball players ever, Larry Bird was part of the Dream Team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics. A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Bird helped his team Boston Celtics win three NBA championships. In 2018, MSN Sports named him the greatest Boston Celtics player ever.

 21 Brett Favre

Brett Favre
24
Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: October 10, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gulfport, Mississippi, United States

Brett Favre is a former American football player who spent the majority of his National Football League career with the Green Bay Packers. Apart from being a retired player with several achievements and records under his belt, Favre is also a philanthropist; in 1996, he set up the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, which has donated over $2 million to charities.

 22 Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen
9
Famous As: One of the Greatest Small Forwards of All Time
Birthdate: September 25, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hamburg, Arkansas, United States

Former professional basketball player, Scottie Pippen, is best known for his stint with the Chicago Bulls with who he won six NBA championships. Considered one of the greatest small forwards of all time, he played a key role in transforming the Bulls into one of the most formidable forces in NBA in the 1990s.

 23 Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders
19
Famous As: American Football player, Baseball Player
Birthdate: August 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Fort Myers, Florida, United States

American football player Deion Sanders is considered one of the strongest pass defenders of the game. He was an electrifying athlete and played in the National Football League for 14 seasons. He played for teams like Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. He is now a coach and a sports analyst. He’s also a rapper.

 

 24 Kane

Kane
25
Famous As: Professional wrestler, Politician
Birthdate: April 26, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Torrejón de Ardoz, Spain

Kane is an American wrestler, actor, businessman, politician, and author. Apart from being the Mayor of Knox County, Tennessee, Kane is also one of the most popular WWE wrestlers of all time. He played an important role in popularizing WWE's Attitude Era throughout the late-1990s and early-2000s. He is regarded by some as the best wrestler of his generation.

 25 Big Show

Big Show
30
Famous As: Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: February 8, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aiken, South Carolina, United States

Big Show is a professional wrestler. Known for his large frame and athleticism, Show is one of the most popular WWE wrestlers of all time. He has won several world championships in WWE. Big Show's large frame is attributed to a condition called acromegaly, which he used to his advantage and established himself in the wrestling world.

 26 Randy Savage

Randy Savage
36
Famous As: Professional Wrestler
Birthdate: November 15, 1952
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Died: May 20, 2011
Macho Man Randy Savage, the WWF and WCW legend, had won 29 championships with 11 titles. Fans loved him for his over-the-top wrestling outfits, his catch phrase, "Oooh yeah!,” and his entrance music, Pomp and Circumstance. He was also a talented rapper and had appeared in many films and series. 

 27 Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer
7
Famous As: Chess Grandmaster
Birthdate: March 9, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer began as a chess prodigy in his teens and went on to become the youngest "grandmaster," at 15. His participation in a politically controversial match in Yugoslavia led to the revocation of his U.S. passport and his arrest. He spent the final years of his life in Iceland.

 28 Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman
11
Famous As: Arguably the Best Rebounding Forward in NBA History
Birthdate: May 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Trenton, New Jersey, United States

Former professional basketball player, Dennis Rodman came to prominence in the 1980s as a power forward known for his defensive and rebounding abilities. Hailed as "arguably the best rebounding forward in NBA history," he earned NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times. He has a media presence as well and has appeared in many TV shows.

 29 Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw
15
Famous As: American Football Player
Birthdate: September 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Shreveport, Louisiana, United States
Drafted by Pittsburgh Steelers in 1970, Terry Bradshaw went on to become a dominant NFL quarterback and led the Steelers to four Super Bowl championships. His career halted after an injury, but Bradshaw soon established himself as a prominent television football analyst for Fox NFL Sunday. Later, he ventured into acting, writing and music.

 30 Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley
6
Famous As: Basketball Player
Birthdate: February 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leeds, Alabama, United States

American professional basketball player Charles Barkley was a prolific scorer and played for Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rocket teams of the National Basketball Association. He was part of the US men’s team that won the gold medal in 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. He was also controversial and was known for his confrontational attitude and physical aggression.

 31 Eddie Guerrero

Eddie Guerrero
26
Famous As: Professional wrestler
Birthdate: October 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: El Paso, Texas, United States
Died: November 13, 2005

Eddie Guerrero was an American professional wrestler. At the time of his death at age 38, Guerrero left a legacy and impact as one of the most beloved wrestlers and an inspiration to several future wrestlers. Considered one of the greatest in-ring performers ever, Guerrero was renowned for his technical skills and ability to entertain the audience with his gimmicks.

 32 Randy Moss

Randy Moss
16
Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: February 13, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rand, West Virginia, United States
NFL wide receiver Randy Moss set a record for the highest number of receiving touchdowns in a season. The Minnesota Vikings player became the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1998 and retired after playing with the San Francisco 49ers. He gave rise to the term “getting mossed.”

 33 Bill Russell

Bill Russell
6
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: February 12, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: West Monroe, Louisiana, United States

Bill Russell is a former professional basketball player. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players ever, Russell led the US national basketball team to victory and helped his team win Olympic gold at the 1956 Summer Olympics. Also known for his accomplishments in the civil rights movement, Russell was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

 34 Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan
7
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: April 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Tim Duncan is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the NBA and the best power forward of all time. A five-time NBA champion, Duncan also helped his national team win Olympic bronze medal in 2004. Also a humanitarian, Duncan established the Tim Duncan Foundation to fund youth sports programs and education.

 35 Shawn Michaels

Shawn Michaels
16
Famous As: Professional wrestler
Birthdate: July 22, 1965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arizona, United States

Retired professional wrestler, actor, and television presenter, Shawn Michaels, is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in history. He is a four-time world champion and two-time Royal Rumble winner. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice. Besides wrestling, he has appeared in a few films and TV shows.

 36 Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett
12
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: May 19, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
Former NBA power forward/center Kevin Garnett was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves out of high school. After a 12-year term with the Timberwolves, he joined the Boston Celtics. His accolades include the MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year award, and 15 All-Star games. He also starred in Uncut Gems.

 37 Joe Montana

Joe Montana
8
Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: June 11, 1956
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New Eagle, Pennsylvania, United States
Former NFL quarterback Joe Montana, nicknamed Joe Cool, mostly played for the San Francisco 49ers, winning four Super Bowls with them. ESPN’s 25th Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century, Montana was the first player to be Super Bowl MVP thrice and was part of the Pro Bowl eight times.

 38 George Foreman

George Foreman
15
Famous As: Professional Boxer
Birthdate: January 10, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Marshall, Texas, United States

Known to his fans as "Big George,” boxer George Foreman won the world heavyweight champion twice and also gas an Olympic gold medal to his credit. Multidimensional in his pursuits, the international boxing hall-of-famer has also been a Christian minister, invented a fat-reducing grill, and written several books, including cookbooks.

 39 Donnie Yen

Donnie Yen
6
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 27, 1963
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

Donnie Yen is a Hong Kong martial artist, actor, stuntman, action choreographer, director, and producer. He has won several wushu tournaments and is credited for introducing mixed martial arts to mainstream Asian cinema. He is also credited with introducing UFC champion Zhang Weili to MMA. Donnie Yen has won several awards like Hong Kong Film Awards and Golden Horse Awards.

 40 Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho
10
Famous As: First Undisputed WWF Champion
Birthdate: November 9, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manhasset, New York, United States

Chris Jericho is a professional wrestler, entrepreneur, actor, and musician. Widely regarded as one of the greatest pro wrestlers ever, Jericho is also one of the most recognized WWE superstars in the history of the wrestling promotion. Apart from wrestling, Jericho is a also famous singer, currently serving as the lead singer for Fozzy, a heavy metal band.

 41 Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens
11
Famous As: Athlete
Birthdate: September 12, 1913
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Oakville, Alabama, United States
Died: March 31, 1980

Widely regarded as one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time, Jesse Owens' three world records in less than an hour in 1935 came to be known as the greatest 45 minutes ever in sports. He was credited with destroying Adolf Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy when he won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

 42 Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi
13
Famous As: Tennis Player
Birthdate: April 29, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Nicknamed “The Punisher,” former world number 1 tennis player Andre Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam-winner and an Olympic gold medalist. He is the only male with a "Career Super Slam.” He is married to Steffi Graf. He now donates generously for children’s causes, through the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation.

 43 Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon
4
Famous As: Basketball player
Birthdate: January 21, 1963
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria

Hakeem Olajuwon is a former basketball player. Nicknamed The Dream, because of his dream-like ability to dunk effortlessly, Olajuwon is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketballers of all time. Apart from leading the Houston Rockets to two back-to-back NBA championships, Hakeem Olajuwon also helped the US national team win the Olympic gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics.

 44 Bret Hart

Bret Hart
25
Famous As: WWE Wrestlers
Birthdate: July 2, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Bret Hart is a Canadian-American former professional wrestler. Regarded as one of the all-time greats, Bret Hart was one of the most popular and important WWF wrestlers during the promotion's New Generation Era. In 1996, he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame. He is amongst the seven people who have entered the WWE Hall of Fame twice

 45 Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter
7
Famous As: Baseball Player
Birthdate: June 26, 1974
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pequannock Township, New Jersey, United States

Derek Jeter is an American former baseball player whose popularity had made him one of the most marketed sportsmen of his generation during his playing career. Since 2017, he has been playing a key role as part owner and the chief executive officer of the Miami Marlins. Also a well-known philanthropist, Jeter created a charitable organization called Turn 2 Foundation.

 46 Joe DiMaggio

Joe DiMaggio
6
Famous As: Baseball player
Birthdate: November 25, 1914
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Martinez, California, United States
Died: March 8, 1999
MLB center fielder Joe DiMaggio won nine World Series championships and bagged 13 All-Star games during his 13-year tenure with the New York Yankees. Nicknamed Joltin' Joe and The Yankee Clipper, the 3-time MVP is remembered for his unbeaten 56-game hitting streak record and his marriage to Marilyn Monroe.

 47 Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King
13
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: November 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, United States
Tennis legend Billie Jean King has won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles titles and 16 doubles titles. The former world no. 1 beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" match in 1973. She also founded the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation.

 48 Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice
8
Famous As: American football player
Birthdate: October 13, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Starkville, Mississippi, United States

Jerry Rice is a former American footballer. He played primarily for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. Thanks to his several records and accomplishments, Rice is considered one of the greatest players and the greatest wide receiver in the history of NFL. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him second on its Football's 100 Greatest Players list.

 49 Rocky Marciano

Rocky Marciano
7
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: September 1, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brockton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 31, 1969
Rocky Marciano, also known as the Brockton Blockbuster, was the world’s only heavyweight champion to remain undefeated till the end of his career and held the heavyweight title from 1952 to 1956. The International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee held the world’s highest heavyweight knockout-to-win ratio at 85.71%.

 50 Evander Holyfield

Evander Holyfield
12
Famous As: Boxer
Birthdate: October 19, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Atmore, Alabama, United States

Evander Holyfield is an American retired boxer who reigned as the undisputed champion in the late 1980s under cruiserweight division and in the early 1990s under heavyweight division. The only four-time world heavyweight champion, Holyfield remains the only boxer in the history of boxing to reign as an undisputed champion in two weight classes.