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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the biggest WWE stars of all time, John Cena has bagged 25 championships, with 16 reigns as a world champion since his professional career began two decades back. Apart from wrestling, Cena has also carved a career as an actor and rapper. His significant projects include films The Marine, Trainwreck and Sisters and rap album You Can't See Me.
American professional basketball player, Stephen Curry, plays for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association and is considered to be one of the greatest shooter in NBA history. His three-point shot is said to have revolutionised the basketball game. He has many records to his credit and his team has won couple of NBA championships.
Counted amongst world’s best batsmen, Virat Kohli is presently the captain of Indian national cricket team. A cricket lover, he started training while still young and shot to fame when he led India’s Under-19 team to victory at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup. Since then, Kohli has proved his talent in all forms of the game.
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.
With 39 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic gold medals, Serena Williams is clearly amongst the greatest female tennis players in the history. With 23 Grand Slam singles win, she is just a win away from equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles. She has bagged the top spot in WTA’s world ranking numerous times.
12 Tom Brady
A record six-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady is regarded by many as the greatest quarterback ever. At the age of 41, he became the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl in NFL history. Thanks to his good looks, he has also appeared in some television programs and commercial campaigns.
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.
14 Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players ever and is called the king of clay. The Spanish national has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles and holds the record of winning 13 French Open Championships. He also has one Australian Open, two Wimbledon and four US Open titles to his name.
16 Mike Tyson
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.
Swedish professional footballer Zlatan Ibrahimović currently plays as a striker for Serie A club A.C. Milan. Widely regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, he is one of the most decorated active footballers in the world. He is Sweden's all-time leading goalscorer. He is a brash person and has been involved in several violent incidents with teammates.
Russian professional mixed martial artist, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is known for holding the longest active undefeated streak in MMA, with 28 wins and no losses. In September 2020, he was named #2 in the UFC men's pound-for-pound rankings. He practices Islam and is the first Muslim to win a UFC title.
19 Usain Bolt
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).
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.
One of the most remunerative pay-per-view (PPV) attractions of all time, Floyd Mayweather Jr. has had a glorious boxing career. One of the most decorated boxers ever, Floyd is regarded as the best pound for pound boxer by many websites. During his career, he had his share of controversies and made brief appearances in shows like WWE and Dancing with the Stars.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a professional basketball player and plays for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association. He’s called ‘Greek Freak’ as he hails from Greece and also due to his size, speed and ball-handling skills. He was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice and NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. He represents Greece at the international level.
The name Lewis Hamilton has become synonymous with Formula One, and such is the greatness of Hamilton. Honoured with MBE by the Queen, Lewis Hamilton is one of the most successful Formula One Grand Prix Racing Driver. Hamilton was the first Black driver to win the Championship and has 6 World Championship titles and 90 race victories to his name.
24 Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is regarded as one of the best basketball players of his generation. He is known for his phenomenal scoring ability and is hailed as an excellent playmaker. He currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets of National Basketball Association (NBA). He was part of the US men’s national team which won the Olympic gold medal in 2012 and 2016.
Widely considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Novak Djokovic is currently third in the list of number of Grand Slam singles titles won by male players. He is known for his powerful two-handed backhand and his service returns. Djokovic is also the only player to complete the career Golden Masters and he has achieved this feat twice.
The highest paid fighter of Ultimate Fighting Championship, Conor McGregor is one of the most famous athletes in the world. His ascent from humble beginnings to becoming ‘The Notorious’ has been fuelled by McGregor’s mastery of martial arts, skilful fighting style and powerful punches. He is the first fighter to hold both UFC Featherweight Championship and UFC Lightweight Championship simultaneously.
27 M. S. Dhoni
Former Indian international cricketer M. S. Dhoni captained the Indian national team from 2007 to 2016. He played as a right-handed middle-order batsman and wicket-keeper. With more than 10,000 runs scored, he is one of the highest run-scorers in One Day Internationals (ODIs). He also became the first wicket-keeper to effect 100 stumpings in ODI cricket.
The most decorated and successful Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps is a former competitive swimmer who has won a total of 28 Olympic medals. He is widely considered one of the greatest athletes ever and the greatest swimmer of all time. He has several world records and Olympic records under his belt.
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.
Aaron Rodgers, who has the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the history of the National Football League (NFL), is regarded by many as one of the greatest football quarterbacks ever. Also known for his humanitarian and charitable efforts, Aaron Rodgers is an ardent supporter of the MACC Fund, which is a fund-raising organization.
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.
32 Simone Biles
Simone Biles is an artistic gymnast. Having won a combined total of 30 World Championship and Olympic medals, Biles is the world's third-most decorated gymnast and the most decorated in America. Regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time by some, Simone Biles continues to inspire several aspiring gymnasts around the world, especially gymnasts from the black community.
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.
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.
35 Ronda Rousey
A professional WWE wrestler, Ronda Rousey was the first UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion and also the first woman to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Earlier, she became the first US woman to win an Olympic medal in judo. Amongst the greatest female MMA fighter, Ronda has also appeared in films like The Expendables 3 and Furious 7.
Widely regarded as the greatest tight end of all time, Rob Gronkowski is also considered one of the best American football players of his generation. Also one of the most popular players, thanks to his larger-than-life personality, Rob Gronkowski has set many National Football League (NFL) records as a tight end.
A four-time All-Star and six-time All-Defensive Team member, Kawhi Leonard has helped two teams win NBA championships while earning the Finals Most Valuable Player award on both THE occasions. In 2015 and 2016, he was named Defensive Player of the Year. Nicknamed the Claw for his amazing ball-hawking skills, Leonard is known for his quiet demeanor off-court.
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.
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.
40 Tiger Woods
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.
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.
42 Naomi Osaka
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka made history by being the first player of Asian origin to hold the world number one rank in singles. Osaka made headlines when in 2021, she withdrew from the French Open after refusing to be part of a press conference to protect her mental health.
44 Hulk Hogan
Former American professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan, is one of the best-known wrestlers in the world. He 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.
45 Triple H
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.
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.
47 Chuck Norris
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.
48 Gareth Bale
The charismatic Welsh footballer player, Gareth Frank Bale played for Southampton football club and Tottenham Hotspur extensively before joining Real Madrid in 2013 for a fees that exceeded Christiano Ronaldo’s earlier record fee. Known for his speed and accuracy, Gareth Bales is also the captain of Wales national team and plays for Tottenham Hotspur, on loan from Real Madrid.
49 Dwyane Wade
With an Olympic gold medal and three NBA championships, Dwyane Wade is one of the most decorated former American basketball players of the 21st century. Also a well-known philanthropist, Dwyane Wade founded The Wade's World Foundation in 2003; the foundation helps community-based organizations promote education and social skills for children. He also supports St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
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.