Just ask the basketball fans how life would have been for them without their favorite sport. You may probably hear things like “terrible.” But, the truth is, sports help to take our minds off the troubles and struggles of this world.
For example, the sporting events helped Americans take their minds off the news regarding the Great Recession.
However, we won’t have sports without players. And not just players, but highly talented ones. America has had the privilege of producing some of the best athletes in the world (Massive respect to Pele, Diego Maradona, and athletes from other countries).
This post is more of an appreciation post for the legends we classify as the most famous athletes of all time in the USA. They put their body, time, and everything on the line to entertain us.
So, do you want to find the top athletes of all time from the United States of America? If yes, continue reading!
1: Mohammed Ali – Professional Boxer
When Mohammed Ali told fans, critics, and opponents he was the world’s greatest boxer, many felt he was bluffing. But did he prove himself as the great? Yes, he did.
Born on 17 January 1942, Mohammed Ali, whose original name is Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., was a professional boxer. Fans and boxing enthusiasts loved him for his fighting skills, speed, pre-game rants and commitment to the sport.
When Ali was just 18 years, he traveled to Italy, Rome to participate in the 1960 Olympics. Ali competed in the lightweight division and surprisingly won all four fights. He won them with so much ease. In the final, Ali defeated Zbigniew Pietrzykowski, a three-time European champion, to claim the gold medal.
Ali’s name was as popular as John F Kennedy’s during his reign, thanks to his off-and-on-ring activities. For example, Ali was the only professional boxer to predict the round that he would knock out an opponent and he’ll follow through with his words.
He was a man of his word! Ali also shaped boxing, including the role of athletes. He was also the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title on three occasions and successfully defended it 19 times.
For many that had the privilege to watch Ali’s fights, it was a blessing. He was one of the professional boxers that made the game more popular than it was.
Ali was the first professional boxer to avoid punches using quickness and foot speed while keeping his hands low. He occasionally deployed the “rope-a-dope” style, a fighting method to tire out opponents.
What are Mohammed Ali’s famous fights?
In 61 bouts, Ali recorded 56 wins. And these include 37 KOs and 19 on-point decisions. Additionally, he defeated Sonny Liston, a dominant contender, in the first round.
Ali proved just how good he was in “Rumble in the Jungle” by knocking out George Freeman. Joe Frazier almost died from Mohammed Ali’s punches in the “Thrilla in Manila” fight.
A fighter and philanthropist like Mohammed Ali deserves all the respect they can get. And it was a joy to see him rake in several awards. He received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award back in 1997.
He also got the highest civilian award in the United States of America, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
We will not forget Ali’s famous quote, “I am the greatest; I said that even before I knew I was.”
2: George Herman – Professional Baseball Player:
Americans will never forget Babe Ruth. Or rather, Baseball fans will never forget the name. His brilliance, legacy, strength, courage, and personality made him exceptional.
Also known as “Babe” Ruth Jr., George Herman was a professional baseball player who took just 154 games to hit 60.
Born on 6 February 1895 in Pigtown, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, Babe Ruth started playing professional baseball at 19.
Here is a brief insight into how it happened.
First, Babe Ruth got sent to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys. It was a school managed by Roman Catholic brothers.
While studying, Babe Ruth learned how to play baseball. And to the instructor’s greatest surprise, he performed exceptionally well.
They say standout athletes always have suitors. And for Babe Ruth, it was glaring that his future as a baseball player was bright.
At just 19, the Baltimore Orioles signed Babe Ruth, and from that day, his name has never left the lips of Americans, most especially baseball fans.
Babe Ruth played baseball for 22 years. The Baseball Hall of Famer retired in 1935 at 40 after spending a partial season at the Boston Raves.
Babe made the world love baseball more than they ever did. He was a wonderful kid, a joy to watch, and a great human being. He had a blistering career in his 22 years playing the game.
He had 714 home runs, 2,873 hits, 2,174 runs, 506 doubles, 2,214 RBI, a .690 slugging percentage, a .474 on-base percentage, and a .342 batting average.
Babe’s statistics show how good a baseball player he is. Even opponents and enemies can attest to his greatness.
Red Smith, the 1976 Spink Award winner, even had nice things to say about Babe Ruth. What Red Smith said of Babe was, “it wasn’t that Babe hit more home runs than others; he hit them better, farther and higher with a more flamboyant flourish and theatrical timing.”
We also cannot forget in a hurry what Babe said when asked why his wage was higher than a sitting president. Babe Ruth signed a contract that earned him $80,000 per year in 1930, while President Herbert Hoover earned $75,000.
When asked why he thought he deserved to earn more than the president, Babe Ruth replied, “why not? I had a better year than the president.”
Babe Ruth played for Boston Red Sox in 1914 – 1919, New York Yankees from 1920 – 1934, and Atlanta Braves in 1935, the year he retired.
It will take something special for any athlete or even a baseball player to enjoy the kind of love fans had for Babe Ruth, a man that transformed any baseball team he joined.
The Yankee stadium will never forget Babe Ruth. The fans will remember him, and so will every player and opponent that enters the stadium. That’s why the Yankee stadium will always be known as the “House That Ruth Built.”
We’ll also not forget Babe Ruth’s famous quote, “never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
3: Michael Jordan – Professional Basketball Player
Michael Jordan isn’t just the greatest basketball player of all time. He’s one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Michael won several prizes while playing for the USA Basketball team. He won two Olympic golds and was a four-time gold medalist while playing for the USA Basketball team.
Michael was also named the United States Basketball Male Athlete of the year twice. Plus, he is regarded as the greatest North America Athlete of the 20th Century.
He was his generation’s greatest defensive and offensive basketball player; or in the sport’s history. He accrued more points per game than any other player throughout his career.
MJ (As he’s fondly called) brought basketball and even the NBA’s popularity to new heights. He had an extraordinary ability to soar to the basket and do amazing things no one had the guts or ability to do.
So, his performance on the basketball court helped capture the world’s attention and transformed basketball into more of a global sport than it was.
The stats show MJ is arguably the greatest basketball player in his generation. And what’s more, he’s one of the basketball players that fans worldwide, including officials and critics, will remember for his immense contribution to the game for many years.
Don’t forget we’re talking about a six-time NBA Finals MVP, five-time MVP, six-time NBA champion, and 14-time All-Star. In addition, he was a one-time Defensive Player of the Year and a 10-time scoring champion.
HoopsHype voted Michael Jordan as the greatest NBA player ever. And at a specific time in his career, MJ was among the top 3 most popular individuals worldwide.
Michael Jordan delivered plenty of big performances throughout his career. But his performance during the 1986 playoff game is one we’ll never forget.
His performance caught the eyes of fans, critics, and opponents, and he proved why he was the best in the game. “God disguised as Michael Jordan” was how Larry Bird described him.
After spending ten incredible seasons with the Chicago Bulls, where he clinched three NBA championships, MJ announced his retirement from the game.
He retired from basketball at the age of 32 on 6 October 1993. Then, shockingly, on 18 March 1995, the big news went all over the media that Michael Jordan was returning to the NBA.
It was apparent that he had unfinished business in the NBA. And truly, his return delighted fans and put the NBA back in the minds of viewers, including fans across the globe.
His return from retirement was a blessing for the NBA, as they enjoyed the highest TV rating over two decades.
Unfortunately, Michael has finally retired from the NBA, but you can tell that his absence left a void no one has filled. Note that television ratings reduced drastically following MJ’s retirement.
We won’t forget in a hurry how marketable MJ was in sports history. He was a major spokesperson for top brands while he was in the NBA. These include Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Hanes, Wheaties, and Gatorade.
Nike even went as far as manufacturing a unique shoe for MJ and called it the “Air Jordan.” And what shocked the world wasn’t just the enormous demand for the sneaker.
Several wearers were subject to shoe jackings. In addition, most people that wore the Air Jordan sneakers got robbed at gunpoint, with the thieves demanding only shoes.
4: Tiger Woods – Professional Golfer
Tiger Woods is another top athlete and one of the most famous of all time from the United States. The golfer attracted many young athletes to the game thanks to a combination of pure talent and marketing.
Seeing kids idolizing a golfer for the first time in the sport’s history was amazing. Only a figure like Tiger Woods could pull off such an amazing achievement. By the way, he was the golfer that made the sport more popular than it ever was.
Tiger Woods didn’t only win twice as many tournaments as his nearest competitor on tour. He could win a game on any day and against any golfer.
He’s one of the few athletes who had the privilege of having their parents tutor them. As a result, woods started his rise to the top of the golf world quite early in his professional career. His father taught him the nitty-gritty of the game and carefully coached him.
Tiger Woods had a blistering career. He was considered the most prolific player in the sport’s history. His records show just how good he was.
His majors victories in the game include four PGA championships, five Masters Tournaments, three British Open Championships, and three U.S. Open Championships. He had his second Masters victory back in 2001.
Furthermore, Tiger Woods was the first golfer to have clinched all four professional major championships, and he did that simultaneously.
He was the world’s number-one golfer for a considerable period. He topped the world rankings a whopping 11 times. Additionally, he reigned for 281 weeks from 12 June 2005 to 30 October 2010. And yes, this was the longest consecutive streak.
Michael Jordan was a marketable athlete, and so was Tiger Woods. Woods was considered the most marketable athlete (not a golfer) of his time.
He served as a major spokesman for top brands in the United States of America. These include American Express, Nike, Gillette Champions, Gatorade, General Motors, and General Mills.
This remarkable athlete has endorsed his series of amazing video games since 1999. The games are called the Tiger Woods PGA Tour.
Now, did you know Woods is multi-racial? Yes, he is. He was the first athlete to belong to several races.
What are the races Woods is related to? He’s one-quarter African American, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter Chinese, one-eight Dutch, and one-eighth Native American.
So, these are the most famous athletes of all time in the USA. And we are blessed to have them among us.
Besides their on-field successes, these athletes had a massive impact on people off-field.
Most of them rose to fame despite the challenges they were facing. However, they didn’t let the past events that happened in their lives truncate their promising future.
We also greatly respect and appreciate these athletes for their time and commitment to entertain us. Even though most of them aren’t playing professionally anymore, they still mean a lot to us.