Greatest sportsman of all time?

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May 25, 2021, 18:11

Bias and subjectivity probably play a big part in this call but if you go on pure statistics, Donald Bradman wins hand down, Usain Bolt comes second and then there's more daylight before contenders like Muhammad Ali, Miguel Indurain, Magic Johnson, Serena Williams (sportswoman) and Tiger Woods fight it out for 3rd place.

May 25, 2021, 19:43

Agree with that one/  

May 28, 2021, 20:28

Alexander Karelin. 

May 29, 2021, 00:26

Kelly Slater. He is almost 50 and still one of the best surfers in the world.  
In a sport where surfboard equipment and professionalism have improved rapidly over years, he is still around today. 

May 29, 2021, 10:09

I agree with your stance, Viskop.

When you go back into the record books, across most sports, there are a few players that always stand way out ahead stats-wise.

As we got more and more technology and video study became possible, the playing field has been drastically evened out. 

While Bradman was obviously a great, or even the GOAT as far as cricket goes, his stats are suspicious. 

Not that he cheated or that he bribed umpires, but more than he may have discovered a technique or two that served him well for his entire "career", but would be studied and countered in the modern era.

Yes you could argue that he is the GOAT because he figured it(whatever it was) out before anyone else, but that argument seems unfair to modern players.

As much as I hate to say it, because I despise the person, I'd have to chuck Maywearher's name into the ring with Slater on the basis of the above. 

Edit: Jordan too - Though he is much more likeable th an Mayweather.

Ronaldo might also be in the mix since he has been a goal machine for over decade in a sport filled to the brim with talent and in the cutting edge of sports science. Messi doesn't crack the nod because he's always been a front-runner.

May 29, 2021, 17:11

Midget Farrelly surfing book in the sixties, fully explaining the art form of the long board and got me into the sport. Harold Larwood is my runner up, he got a whole nation to declare ‘no más’. Roberto Duran is my third choice he lasted longer than the Aussie batsmen before he called ‘no más’. Rassie Erasmus is my fourth choice....he called ‘no más’ before the competition even started.

May 29, 2021, 19:53

So subjective.




Michael Jordan

Wayne Gretzky



Ronny O Sullivan


Too many.

This kind of discussion should be answered for each sport. How do you compare Jordan to Pele?

May 29, 2021, 23:31

As a boy Bradman practiced alone, throwing a golf ball off of a thickly ribbed, cylindrical iron water tank then hitting the ball on it's return with a wicket, rather than a bat. (To see how remarkably tough this is, watch here)

There were many factors making this task so difficult. Not only was the golf ball much smaller than a cricket ball is, it would bounce randomly off of the water tank forcing Bradman to quickly track the ball and react to where it was heading. Furthermore, since he was bowling to himself, Bradman would have to quickly regrip the wicket after he bowled the ball, giving himself even less time to respond. And as if that wasn't enough, unlike a cricket bat's wide, flat hitting surface, the wicket was about 1/3rd the width of a bat and was perfectly round.

After mastering this task, hitting against even world class bowlers must have seemed easy. For Bradman, it apparently was.

May 30, 2021, 08:15

Bias and subjectivety do indeed cloud this assessment and perhaps pure stats do form some sort of measurement.

If you look at American assessments they put Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth among the top 4 , whereas cricketers and rugby players don't even feature for obvious reasons.

Obviously they should be judged in catergories. You cannot compare Sir Don with a brilliant surfer or a basket ball player.

But having said that Muhammed Ali was the perfect athlete...he was the greatest in worldwide context and no sportsman attracted more interest and achievement in this context. 

May 30, 2021, 08:44

Pelè is a myth. Nothing more. He wasn't even considered the greatest by his own people, that would be Garrincha. He had the dribbling skills which were far ahead of their time. 

May 30, 2021, 09:05

Ali was good. 

But he had five losses. 


May 30, 2021, 09:07

Aug, pick your best all time footballer.

Chippo and I have Ronaldo.

May 30, 2021, 09:53

For best, I'd have to go to an era where defenders were good defenders and not merely an outlet for passing. The original Ronaldo before his injury was a better dribbler than Kirsty-ano or Messi. Who else could play like Roberto Carlos or Cafu bolting up and down the wings and also defend to a world class level? From a defensive standpoint, what of Maldini, Nesta, Desailly, Thuram? In terms of attackers, I don't find the players in Europe over the past decade to be very good, even in an era of inferior physicality or defending. Ronaldo and Messi largely excelled in an league where games are open and more structureless, with few genuine rivals - like the Premier League used to be for United. Of the two, Messi is the one with the tool set to cross eras successfully. If I were to choose one player overall, it would be Paulo Maldini, Francesco Totti or Gianluigi Buffon; Longevity at the highest level. 

May 30, 2021, 09:53

Plum, I don't think any single great was 100% all of the time.

Only one creature was, it was a racehorse called Secretariat.

He was almost too perfect to believe...there has never been one an iota close and never will be.

Check this out

Muhammed imho was up there with the best a man can be but not quite as convincing as a horse

May 30, 2021, 10:29

Alexander Karelin won 887 fights in 889. He competed in four Olympic games, controversially being robbed of a fourth gold. His record is highly impressive. 

May 30, 2021, 10:47

Probably a fruitless quest, each to his own...quite visible no mentions are Wayne Gretsky ans Alexander Ovechkin in Ice Hockey.

May 30, 2021, 10:56

Greatest NFL player of all time: Lawrence Taylor. A player so devastating QBs would panic if they couldn't find him when setting the protection. A player so devastating opposition coaches told their players, " You can't stop him, just hold up as long as you can". 

May 30, 2021, 17:13

Lawrence Taylor was was the whole Pittsburg steel curtain. But my vote would go to Sweetness, Walter elusive as Kolbe, but strong enough to knock linebackers over. The man never had a a bad game.

If you want to see running, watch this:

May 30, 2021, 17:31

Something I did not expect; cricket is the 3rd most popular sport worldwide but is not included in Google posts, mostly American bias, in that context Sir Don is not a stupid choice, (i give Rooi credit when it's due). I like Americans and lost a good mate who was a Yank but they are irritating...when you google best sport players or best film actors in the world they are mostly their own country. Prejudice is a plague.

Most popular sports worldwide in this order;


Basket ball




Rugby union

Formula 1


Ice Hockey

Volley ball


No mention of grid iron, baseball or rugby league or aussie rules. Surprised me.

May 30, 2021, 18:16

Organhuffer was the greatest was not he?

May 31, 2021, 16:18


I mentioned Gretzky.

Look up.

May 31, 2021, 17:36

Yeah you're hockey is an incredible game...exciting spectator sport...these guys are top athletes, move around between 30-50 klms per hour.

I've watched a few during Winter olympics, the Cannucks, Russians, Scandinavian countries, USA are real's a game I could easily take to...very exciting.and never dull.

May 31, 2021, 19:12


Kristy' Ronaldo surely has the stuff to be the best in any era? What does he lack, in your opinion?

On the one hand you're talking about days gone when defenders kept a knife in their sock and on the other saying that Messi, the invariably fragile, has the goods to be top dog in any era.

Everybody is a Carlos fan. He's just one of those guys. That Real Madrid team that had him, Figo, Zidane and Ronaldo. I remember how hopeless Man U were against them in 2003.

Remember Figo's drifted goal?

May 31, 2021, 20:06

Figo was the better winger of the two (Kirsty). Concerning Messi, I've seen him take a beating and come out on top. Kirstiano gets flustered and becomes less effective too often. In the 2016 EUROs, Kirstiano was a liability. Portugal limped into the finals, and didn't look like beating France until he was injured. He was essentially taking up a small area of the pitch waiting to be spoonfed, and once he was gone, the team looked dynamic and fresh. That's the recipe for the the second part of his career, as he was no longer the flying winger of his youth. How many great WCs has he had? This is not the makings of the best ever. At his peak, he is a very accomplished player, he is not the best ever. Alex Ferguson gave his players a mandate to be tough on Kirty in practice to toughen him up. He even once layed into Kirsty for his overly self-indulgent play, opening with, "You having effing fun playing by yourself!" 

May 31, 2021, 21:10

81 goals in 97 games at Juve so far. 

Have you been watching him there? Haven't checked the stats but his assist rate his high. Doesn't quite match up with the picture you're painting of Ronaldsh

Nothing to scoff at for a man on the wrong side of 35.

Somehow, people say he has failed there. 

May 31, 2021, 22:47

In a loaded team, as a poacher more than anything. I'm a Juve fan by the way. Dybala is the better player. 

Jun 01, 2021, 00:57

I take it you watched First Team on Netflix then? Quite enjoyed that, despite some of the cringe.

Dybala is good but has he lived up to the hype? He's 27 now as well so we've probably seen all we're gonna. 

And in that vein, Kante is Dybala's superior in every way.

I don't call the guy that manages to get on the end of an optimistic or overshot pass a poacher. That's called quality and reading the game.

But to each his own. 

Jun 01, 2021, 02:04

Biggest knock against Ronaldo is that he couldn’t bring himself to welcome Bale to the team. It appears that he actually resisted anything Bale and encouraged his team mates to do the same. Messi, by contrast, has always been a team man.

Jun 01, 2021, 10:24

Muhammad Ali told everyone he was the greatest  ... and chumps like Redneck believed him. 

Gullible!! Prone to media "truths"... 

I've seen this before. The media in South Africa promotes rugby incompetence as genius ... and folks like Mike and Stupid Dave swallow this as fact. Kolisi is a perfect example of this.  

In truth ... Ali fought in an era of talentless chumps. Frazier was the best of the sorry lot ... and his name isn't one you'd expect to see listed on the world's top 10 best boxers of all time. 

Wouldn't it be nice if folks had their own thoughts on things for a change ... ???

Jun 01, 2021, 12:23

All-time greatest sportsman?'s a tough one. I could name a few and still be way off.

How about Bruce Lee, Carl Lewis and Sugar Ray Robinson.

Jun 01, 2021, 12:35

There are several candidates and this is of course wildly subjective but, as I said in the opening post, if you base it pure statistics then it's hard to look past Donald Bradman. 

His batting average compared not only against his contemporaries but against everyone who has played the game since is a statistical aberration not seen in any other major sport . . . and you can't tell me the bowlers were crap back when he was playing because then why don't the batsmen of his era also have averages in the 90s?

I don't expect us to agree on the greatest sportsman ever, but if someone has the statistics of a sportsman (in a major sport) that compare to Bradman's, put them up.

The only statistical aberration that comes close in my view is the Bahamas womens and mens relay teams winning Olympic gold medals in the 4x100 (Sydney 2000) and 4x400m (London 2012) relays respectively. Considering the respective populations of the Bahamas and silver medalists USA (in both cases) as well as the depth of talent required to win an Olympic relay event, I'd say those are both right up there as a statistical anomaly but I didn't mention either in my opening post because they were both team achievements rather than individual.

Jun 01, 2021, 12:40

Point taken.

Jun 01, 2021, 12:55

One thing is certain, most of the names here were special human beings. 

To inspire others has to be one of the most noble outcomes of one's talent. And I can't think of a name here that wasn't/isn't inspirational.

That's probably a thing we can all appreciate. 

Haha knowable

Jun 02, 2021, 08:38

Jack Johnson is regarded by many as one of the top 5 best heavyweights of all time … yet … if you look at his technique, his training intensity or rather the lack there of … and his opponents, one would have to be seriously bias to favour his chances against the likes of a Joe Louis … or a Jack Dempsey … or Rock Marciano … or Mike Tyson.

The modern age brings an edge that’s hard to compete against.  

Comparing the sports heroes of old to the modern age is silly.  

Bradman has the best average in cricket history … however … is that enough to chalk him up as top dog? I don’t think so.

He can easily be likened to Johnson … outdated … the best at the time … but falls sadly short of what we see today.

Take Arnold … he was the best the world had ever seen … and yet … he’s nowhere near the likes of Ronnie Coleman. Would it be fair to chalk him up as the best bodybuilder of all time?

In my opinion … definitely not … he wouldn’t make my top 10 list.

His training techniques … his diet … is what we find these days at the local gym.

Bradman deserves a mention ... but comparing him to say the likes of Sachin Tendulkar is just not fair.  

Bradman played how many test matches in comparison to Tendulkar? Did he ever play in a one day international? How many different bowling attacks did he face in comparison to Tendulkar? 

There is no comparing the two ... there is no comparing yesterdays heroes to todays ... 

Jun 02, 2021, 09:31

Klown seems to be confusing greatest sportsman with "who would win if they played today?"

Listen chump, no-one is disputing that the world 100m record holder today would smash the world record holder of 100 years ago, just as the Springbok rugby team of today would put 100 points on Philip Nel's 1937 Springbok team. 

You can only measure a sportsman (or a sports team) by how they performed against their contemporaries. Everyone knows that records keep being broken and sportsmen and women keep improving as mankind evolves. You're not some kind of visionary because you know that Jack Johnson would lose a fight to Mike Tyson or that Jesse Owens would finish a 100m race some distance behind Usain Bolt . . . but that doesn't make Jesse Owens any less of a sporting legend just because he was born more than 70 years after Bolt.

Donald Bradman, Frik du Preez, Pele and Muhammad Ali will always be regarded as great sportsmen long after a nobody like you has been forgotten and that's because of how they dominated their sports in their respective eras.

Maybe you should just stick to fantasizing about Ronnie Coleman in a pink speedo, Klown, that seems to be one of the few things you actually do well.

Jun 02, 2021, 09:44

A great ... sure ... back in the day ... waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the their day ... but by no means a contender for the "the greatest sportsman of all time".

Haaaaaahahahahaha!! Give me a break.

Feeling stupid, huh?

No matter ... you were trying to be clever ... and now you feel like a dumbass ... just cause I pointed out the obvious ... 

Perhaps you should use a little more head before posting silly little things like this ...

Jun 02, 2021, 10:02

Klown, if you don't like a topic then you don't have to join the discussion. If you'd rather discuss how modern day sportsmen are so much better than those of yesteryear or who is the greatest sportsman today then feel free to start threads of your own.

Like I said already, you're probably better off clutching your little gherkin and squealing with delight at Ronnie Coleman photos rather than telling people what they're allowed to discuss on this message board . . . especially if you don't have the mental capacity to understand a simple concept like "of all time".

Run along now.

Jun 02, 2021, 10:55

Not having a good day, huh?

Did I say I didn’t enjoy reading posts on these subjects? … really …  is that how it came across? … my bad … what I meant is that well thought out posts are very enjoyable.

Now … be honest … was yours well thought out?

No … of course not. 

I forgot how defensive you can get.


You should be thanking me for helping you make sense of that mess.  

Now say you’re sorry.

Jun 02, 2021, 11:00

Come now Klown, I know you're stupid but surely you've realized by now that your tough guy act doesn't work with me. 

I know you're a weak, needy little attention-seeker who runs away for long sulks every time you humiliate yourself on here . . . and you know that I know that . . . so give it a rest.

Jun 02, 2021, 12:29

What has my "tough guy act" got to do with anything?

Weren't we discussing your silly post and how I came to your rescue.

Try tp stay on subject  will ya?

Thanks a lot.

Jun 02, 2021, 19:23

Accordion to RooiCommie, everyone is weak, stupid, cowardly and a liar...

There is a universe full of insults to chuck around but the poor guy just can't resist projecting his self-image onto the world. 

Perhaps it's worthwhile remembering a guy that never made it onto any of our lists - Warne.

Allow his ability for variation to inspire you, RooiNuts.

Jun 03, 2021, 01:49

Ian Thorpe

5 Olympic Golds

Broke 22 World Records and winning an abundance of medals Ian retired at the age of 24.

Shane Warne is undoubtedly an all time great and possibly the greatest sportsman of all time.

Jun 03, 2021, 10:05

Certainly Warne was one of the watchable cricketers in history.

His wife is pretty watchable too.

Lucky bugger.

Jun 03, 2021, 15:22

I can't believe he hasn't been brought up yet: Ronaldinho, the most naturally gifted footballer I have ever seen. 

Jun 03, 2021, 22:46

Shane Warne was the greatest spin bowler ever but not the greatest cricketer. Even cricket or soccer or rugby is segmentated by a wider context the greatest in each sport is separated, ie Jonty Rhodes probably the greatest fielder. So each sport has their greatest in each department. To rate the greatest sportsman in one lump sum is ridiculous. The sportsmen that really get attention across worldwide board are mainly boxers or soccer, or golf and tennis players.

It's really an inaccurate task to be sure because we will have our different perceptions.

Jun 06, 2021, 11:15

I chose Lawrence Taylor because irrespective of position he was the most disruptive presence on the football field. All you needed was him to be present, nothing else. In team sports, attack differs from defence; attack relies of cooperative units to manipulate the defence to create openings. Defence relies on maintaining itself under duress. That's why our rugby is more successful when defence is the emphasis, as it relies more on grit, emotional content etc. Whereas attack relies on gray matter. If you say athlete, then I take it to mean physical specimen. Alexander Karelin ranks very high on that list. 

Jun 08, 2021, 20:23

Unfair to claim any sport person the best ever.

Each sport has numerous outstanding players that have really stood out as exceptional.

My choices are.

Soccer: Ronaldinho - Pele - Stanley Mathews.

Cricket: Batting - de Villiers, Bradman, Richards and Pollock.

              Bowling - Warne, Donald and Laker.

              Fielding - Rhodes.

Swimming: Thorp.

Rugby: F. du Preez and Carter.

Athletics: Bruce Forsdyt (?) Bolt, Lewis.

Boxing: Rocky Marciano.



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