20th Century Sportspersons

Find out more about the greatest 20th Century Sportspersons, including Ronda Rousey, Lionel Messi, Holly Holm, Cristiano Ronaldo and John Cena.

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

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 1 Dwayne Johnson

Dwayne Johnson
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
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
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
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.

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 5 Shaquille O’ Neal

Shaquille O’ Neal
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
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.

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 7 Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson
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 Roger Federer

Roger Federer
Famous As: Tennis player
Birthdate: August 8, 1981
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland

Widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time, Roger Federer has won the most number of men's Grand Slam singles titles. He is the only person to be honored with the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award on four occasions. Despite enduring several injuries, Federer continues to dominate the tennis court.

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 9 David Beckham

David Beckham
Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: May 2, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
David Beckham is a former English footballer who was football superstar on-field and a heartthrob off-field. A former player for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Milan, among others, Beckham was a free-kick specialist, a brilliant crosser of the ball and the first English player to win league titles in four countries. His passion for football, charisma and fashion style have made him an international sensation.  

 10 Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt
Famous As: Olympic athlete
Birthdate: August 21, 1986
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sherwood Content, Jamaica

One of the greatest athletes ever, Usain Bolt is popular by the nickname ‘Lightning Bolt’. He holds the world record for 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay and is the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016).

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 11 Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning
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.

 12 Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher
Famous As: Formula One Racing Driver
Birthdate: January 3, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hürth, Germany

With seven Formula One championship under his belt, Michael Schumacher is the most successful racer of Formula 1 and one of the greatest motor sports driver in the world. The retired German racer was the face of Ferrari for a decade and with his tremendous on track success also became one of best paid athletes in the sport’s history.

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 13 Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar
Famous As: Cricketer
Birthdate: April 24, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Often referred to as the God of Cricket in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a retired cricketer. Also known for his humility on and off the field, Sachin is one of the most revered, celebrated, and decorated cricketers. Considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time, Sachin Tendulkar played a key role in turning India into a cricket-frenzy nation.

 14 Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson
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.

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 15 André the Giant

André the Giant
Famous As: Professional wrestler
Birthdate: May 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Coulommiers, France
Died: January 27, 1993

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.

 16 Ronaldinho

Famous As: Football Player
Birthdate: March 21, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Porto Alegre, State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

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.

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 17 Pele

Famous As: Football player
Birthdate: October 23, 1940
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tres Coracoes, Brazil

Brazilian football legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, was named the Football Player of the Century by the IFFHS. He called football “The Beautiful Game” and was one of the world’s highest-paid athlete for a while. His 1281 goals in 1363 games is a Guinness World Record.

 18 Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods
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.

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 19 Triple H

Triple H
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

 20 Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson
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.
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 21 Venus Williams

Venus Williams
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.

 22 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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.

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 23 Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan
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.

 24 Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris
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.

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 25 Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
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.

 26 Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson
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.

 27 Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane
Famous As: Football Player
Birthdate: June 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: La Castellane, Marseille, France

Amongst the greatest footballers of all time, Zinedine Zidane led France to victories in the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000. Later, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year took up the position of Real Madrid manager and carved yet another success story by winning major titles like Champions League and UEFA Super Cups.

 28 Ric Flair

Ric Flair
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.

 29 Larry Bird

Larry Bird
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.

 30 Niki Lauda

Niki Lauda
Famous As: Former Formula One driver
Birthdate: February 22, 1949
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: May 20, 2019

Austrian Formula One driver and aviation entrepreneur Niki Lauda was a three-time F1 World Drivers' Champion. Considered to be one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, he was once involved in a near-fatal accident. He founded and ran three airlines as an aviation entrepreneur and also served as the team manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team.

 31 Brett Favre

Brett Favre
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.

 32 Scottie Pippen

Scottie Pippen
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.

 33 Ronaldo

Famous As: Footballer
Birthdate: September 18, 1976
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a striker. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, he played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year three times. He retired in 2011 and has since established himself as a successful businessperson.

 34 Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders
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.


 35 Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry
Famous As: Football Coach, Fotball player
Birthdate: August 17, 1977
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Les Ulis, France

A football coach, Thierry Henry began his career as a player with Monaco team and later also played for Arsenal and Barcelona. A lethal striker, he became a record goal scorer for both France and Arsenal. He played a crucial role in the French victory in 1998 FIFA World Cup and Arsenal’s win in Premier League and the FA Cup.

 36 Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
Famous As: Ice Hockey Player
Birthdate: January 26, 1961
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brantford, Canada
Nicknamed "The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky is a four-time Stanley Cup Champion and a six-time All-Star record-breaker. The Hockey Hall of Fame inductee played for four NHL teams from 1979 to 1999, was the leading scorer in NHL history, and served as the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

 37 Kane

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.

 38 Big Show

Big Show
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.

 39 Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna
Famous As: Formula One Driver
Birthdate: March 21, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Santana, São Paulo, State of São Paulo, Brazil
Died: May 1, 1994

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.

 40 Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen
Famous As: Racing driver
Birthdate: September 30, 1997
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hasselt, Flanders, Belgium

 41 Randy Savage

Randy Savage
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. 

 42 Israel Adesanya

Israel Adesanya
Famous As: Mixed martial artist
Birthdate: July 22, 1989
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria

 43 Bobby Fischer

Bobby Fischer
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.

 44 Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman
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.

 45 Terry Bradshaw

Terry Bradshaw
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.

 46 Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley
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.

 47 Wladimir Klitschko

Wladimir Klitschko
Famous As: Professional Boxer
Birthdate: March 25, 1976
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Semey, Kazakhstan

Wladimir Klitschko is a Ukrainian former boxer. Widely regarded as one of the best heavyweight champions ever, Wladimir Klitschko was renowned for his great footwork and extraordinary knockout power. He won a gold medal for his country in the super-heavyweight division at the 1996 Summer Olympics. He has often been named among Ukraine's most influential people.

 48 Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson
Famous As: Former Manager of Manchester United
Birthdate: December 31, 1941
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Alex Ferguson is known for his 26-year tenure as the manager of the football club Manchester United, from 1986 to 2013. He won 38 trophies with the club, including 13 Premier League titles. The first English Football Hall of Fame inductee, Ferguson has also received the knighthood

 49 Eddie Guerrero

Eddie Guerrero
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.

 50 Randy Moss

Randy Moss
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.”