Considered one of the best football players in the world and a prolific goal scorer, Lionel Messi has shattered and created numerous records in his playing career. Regarded by another soccer legend, Diego Maradona, as his successor, the Argentinian superstar is also one of the world’s highest paid athletes.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Muhammad Ali was a major figure of the 20th century. He was an inspirational figure for African-Americans during the civil rights movement. Because of his opposition to Vietnam War and his refusal to be drafted into military, Muhammad Ali became an icon for the larger counterculture generation.
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.
André the Giant was one of the most popular French wrestlers ever to appear in WWF. He stood over seven feet tall due to a condition aptly called gigantism, but used his condition to gain popularity. Also an actor, André the Giant continues to be one of the most recognizable faces in the world, several years after his death.
Regarded as one of the best football players of all time, Ronaldinho played a crucial role in Brazil’s victory in 2002 FIFA World Cup. Later, he helped FC Barcelona win two La Liga and a UEFA Champions League title. The two time FIFA world Player of the Year, who retired in 2018, was known for his technical skills and creativity.
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.
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.
10 Larry Bird
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.
11 Big Show
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.
12 Luis Suarez
Controversy’s favorite child Uruguayan professional Luis Suarez has been in the news for an infamous handball and also for biting opponents. He now plays for Atlético Madrid and has previously represented Barcelona and Liverpool, winning 19 trophies in his career to date. He is Uruguay's leading goalscorer of all time.
13 Vince Carter
Widely regarded as the greatest dunker ever in basketball history, Vince Carter is an American former basketball player. His leaping ability during his playing career often entertained crowds, earning him nicknames like Half Man, Half Amazing and Vinsanity. Also a philanthropist, Carter set up the Embassy of Hope Foundation, which helps children in places like New Jersey, Florida, and Ontario.
At 13, chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen became the youngest grandmaster. His rating of 2,872 was the highest ever in history. He also recorded the longest unbeaten run in chess. Named one of Cosmopolitan’s “sexiest men of 2013,”he has also modeled for G-Star Raw, owns a chess-app company, and loves football.
15 Randy Savage
16 Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian racing driver. Widely considered one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, Ayrton had won the prestigious F1 World Drivers' Championship thrice. Following his fatal accident in 1994, several safety improvements were introduced to the sports' set-up; higher crash safety standards, redesigned tracks, and improved crash barriers became part of the sport.
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.
19 Bill Russell
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.
20 Tim Duncan
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.
22 Roddy Piper
Canadian professional wrestler, amateur boxer, and actor, Roddy Piper, is best remembered for his work with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He headlined multiple PPV events and hosted the popular WWF interview segment Piper's Pit. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. He also appeared in a few films and TV shows.
24 Jesse Owens
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.
25 Joe Montana
26 Derek Jeter
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.
28 Johan Cruyff
Lance Armstrong became one of the most inspirational stories after he survived cancer and went on to win seven consecutive Tour de France races from 1999 to 2005. He was considered one of the greatest road racing cyclists ever before he was stripped of all of his achievements starting from August 1998 due to his involvement in a doping scandal.
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.
31 Mo Farah
32 Jerry Rice
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.
33 James Hunt
James Hunt was a British racing driver who earned the nickname 'Hunt the Shunt' for his action-packed and often reckless exploits on the track. In 1976, he won the Formula One World Championship in his first year with McLaren, which inspired several teenagers to take up motor racing. James Hunt has inspired racers, such as Kimi Räikkönen.
Sugar Ray Leonard is a former boxer and motivational speaker. Having won world titles in five different weight divisions during his boxing career, Leonard is widely considered one of the greatest boxers ever. Leonard was part of a group of boxers dubbed The Fabulous Four, which is credited with popularizing the lower weight classes in the post-Muhammad Ali era.
35 Pete Sampras
Former professional tennis player, Pete Sampras, became the winner of 14 Grand Slam singles titles during his career. He was ranked world No. 1 in 1993 and held the record for 286 weeks. Nicknamed “Pistol Pete,” the player was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
36 Isiah Thomas
Dale Earnhardt was an American stock car driver who raced in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series from 1975 to 2001. Considered one of the greatest drivers in the history of NASCAR, Earnhardt won 76 Winston Cup races and seven Winston Cup championships in an illustrious career spanning 40 years. In 2010, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Italian footballer Francesco Totti is known for his 25-year stint with Roma. Nicknamed “The Golden Boy” and “The Gladiator,” he led Roma to win the Serie A and the Coppa Italia. He was also part of the 2006 FIFA World Cup-winning Italian team. He was named to Pele’s FIFA 100.
39 Pau Gasol
Nadia Comaneci is a Romanian former gymnast. One of the best-known gymnasts in the world, Comaneci has five Olympic gold medals under her belt. Credited with popularizing gymnastics around the world, Nadia Comaneci was honored by the Laureus World Sports Academy by including her in their Athletes of the 20th Century list in 2000.
41 George Best
44 Alan Shearer
45 Björn Borg
Regarded as one of the best tennis players from Sweden, Björn Borg won 11 Grand Slam singles titles during his playing career. He started off as a teenage sensation and helped popularize tennis during the 1970s. The 2017 film Borg vs McEnroe was inspired by his rivalry against John McEnroe.
46 Joe DiMaggio
47 Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker is a British former football player who currently works as a sports broadcaster. Considered one of the greatest British strikers of all time, Gary Lineker is the third-highest goal-scorer for England. During his 16-year playing career, Lineker never received a red or yellow card, due to which he was honored with the FIFA Fair Play Award in 1990.
48 Joe Louis
49 Lou Gehrig
Lou Gehrig was an American baseball player. Nicknamed The Iron Horse for his durability and prowess as a hitter, Lou Gehrig played for the New York Yankees of the Major League Baseball (MLB). His life and career inspired the 1942 film The Pride of the Yankees in which he was portrayed by actor Gary Cooper.
50 Eric Cantona
Eric Cantona is a French actor, filmmaker, and former football player. During his playing career, Cantona was a key player for the popular football club Manchester United and is often credited with reviving the club's reputation as a footballing force. Nicknamed King Eric by Manchester United fans, Eric Cantona continues to enjoy an iconic status within the club.