When we see an amazing feat of athleticism, it’s easy to assume that the person performing it is the greatest athlete of all time. But that’s not always the case! We like to think we’re pretty knowledgeable when it comes to sports, but even we were surprised by some of these facts about the greatest athletes of all time. These guys have pushed their bodies and their skill sets beyond what most thought was possible, but there are plenty of incredible athletes out there that you may never have heard of…before now!
Muhammad Ali – Boxing
Muhammad Ali was a heavyweight champion and cultural icon. At an early age, Ali took an interest in boxing. When he was 12 years old, his bike was stolen and when a police officer told him to get home before dark (when it became unsafe for black men to be out on their own), Ali responded that he had as much right to be there as anybody else. The policeman then knocked him off his bicycle. Ali began training at 17 years old under legendary trainer Angelo Dundee.
Pele – Football
The Brazilian star earned a reputation as one of soccer’s greatest players thanks to his long list of accomplishments, including three World Cup titles and two world player-of-the-year awards. Often referred to as The King and The Emperor, Pele led Santos to three straight South American championship titles from 1962 to 1964, during which time he scored more than 900 goals.
Roger Federer – Tennis
No matter what happens on any given day, Federer has proven himself to be one of (if not) greatest athlete in recent memory. Aptly nicknamed FedEx for his efficiency and success, he is a two-time Grand Slam champion and has won more matches than any other male tennis player on tour.
LeBron James – Basketball
One of the greatest basketball players ever, LeBron James is at his best in his current stint with Cleveland Cavaliers. Born on December 30, 1984 in Akron, Ohio, LeBron is one of two children born to a 16-year-old single mother. His father wasn’t in his life until he was seven years old. An honor student who led both teams at St. Vincent-St.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Soccer
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, commonly known as Cristiano Ronaldo, is a Portuguese professional footballer who plays as a forward for Spanish club Real Madrid and captains the Portugal national team. Often considered one of t…e greatest players in football history and among…the best players of his generation, Ronaldo has a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards,the most for a European player and is tied for most all-time.
Michael Jordan – Basketball
Michael Jordan, born in Brooklyn, New York on February 17, 1963 is a former American basketball player who is considered to be one of the greatest players of all time. He played for Chicago Bulls from 1984-1998.He won six NBA Championships and was awarded as MVP (Most Valuable Player) during all seasons except his first.
Serena Williams – Tennis
Serena Williams is arguably one of, if not the best female athlete. This American won her first US Open title in 1999 as a 17-year-old and has since claimed a total of 23 Grand Slam titles (22 singles, 1 doubles). She holds an all-time record at Wimbledon with 69 consecutive wins on grass.
Tiger Woods – Golf
Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 and had his best year in 1997, when he won nine tournaments and earned a $600,000 salary. He became one of golf’s biggest stars by winning four major championships, 14 PGA Tour events and earning more than $100 million over a three-year period in 2000-2002. His biggest win came at age 21, when he defeated all four top players in his first Masters victory.
Usain Bolt – Track and Field
Usain Bolt is a Jamaican sprinter who, at his peak, was considered by many to be the fastest man in history. Although he only has two Olympic gold medals to his name, both earned in 2008 at Beijing, Bolt is currently considered by most track and field authorities to be one of—if not THE—best-ever runners.
Conor McGregor – Mixed Martial Arts
Notable for his arrogance, McGregor has fought and won in multiple weight classes. He currently holds titles in two divisions—lightweight and featherweight—in addition to being a former featherweight champion. As an MMA fighter, he is trained to defeat any opponent with a mix of powerful kicks and punches, which makes him a formidable force in every bout. He famously knocked out longtime champ José Aldo in just 13 seconds during their title fight at UFC 194. (Photo: AP Photo/John Locher)