Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American
former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist.
Considered a cultural icon, Ali was perhaps one of the most idolized,
vilified and complex public figures of the 20th century.
known as Cassius Clay, Ali changed his name, after joining the Nation
of Islam in 1964, the same year his friend Malcolm X would leave,
subsequently converting to traditional Islam; Ali would follow suit in
the '70s. In 1967, three years after Ali had won the World Heavyweight
Championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted
into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition
to the Vietnam War – "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong... No
Vietcong ever called me nigger" – one of the more telling remarks of the
protests against the Vietnam War had not yet begun, but with that one
phrase, Ali articulated the reason to oppose the war for a generation of
young Americans, and his words served as a touchstone for the racial
and antiwar upheavals that would rock the 60's. Ali's example inspired
Martin Luther King Jr. – who had been reluctant to alienate the Johnson
Administration and its support of the civil rights agenda – to voice his
own opposition to the war for the first time.
would then be arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges,
stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He
was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while
his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was
Ali would go on-to become the first and only, three-time Lineal World Heavyweight Champion.
"The Greatest," Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches.
Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which rank among
the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he
finally regained his stripped titles seven years later. Ali was well
known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as "float
like a butterfly, sting like a bee", and employing techniques such as
the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope. Ali had brought beauty and grace
to the most uncompromising of sports and through the wonderful excesses
of skill and character, he had become the most famous athlete in the
world. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would
"trash talk" opponents, often with rhymes.
1999, Ali was crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated
and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC.
Professional boxing record
56 Wins (37 knockouts, 19 decisions), 5 Losses (4 decisions, 1 TKO), 0 Draws
Res. Opponent Type Round, Time Date Age Location Notes
Loss Trevor Berbick Decision (unanimous) 10 (10) December 11, 1981 39 years, 328 days Nassau, Bahamas
Loss Larry Holmes TKO (Corner Stoppage) 10 (15) October 2, 1980 38 years, 259 days Las Vegas, NV Match was for WBC Heavyweight title.
Win Leon Spinks Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) September 15, 1978 36 years, 241 days New Orleans, LA Won WBA Heavyweight title;
Vacated title on 1979-09-06
Loss Leon Spinks Decision (split) 15 (15) February 15, 1978 36 years, 29 days Las Vegas, NV Lost WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Earnie Shavers Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) September 29, 1977 35 years, 255 days New York City, NY Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Alfredo Evangelista Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) May 16, 1977 35 years, 119 days Landover, MD Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Ken Norton Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) September 28, 1976 34 years, 255 days The Bronx, New York Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Richard Dunn TKO 5 (15) May 24, 1976 34 years, 128 days Munich, West Germany Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Jimmy Young Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) April 30, 1976 34 years, 104 days Landover, MD Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Jean-Pierre Coopman KO 5 (15) February 20, 1976 34 years, 34 days San Juan, Puerto Rico Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Joe Frazier TKO 14 (15), 0:59 October 1, 1975 33 years, 257 days Quezon City, Philippines "The Thrilla in Manila";
Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Joe Bugner Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) June 30, 1975 33 years, 164 days Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Ron Lyle TKO 11 (15) May 16, 1975 33 years, 119 days Las Vegas, NV Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Chuck Wepner TKO 15 (15), 2:41 March 24, 1975 33 years, 66 days Richfield, OH Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win George Foreman KO 8 (15), 2:58 October 30, 1974 32 years, 286 days Kinshasa, Zaire "The Rumble in the Jungle";
Won WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles
Win Joe Frazier Decision (unanimous) 12 (12) January 28, 1974 32 years, 11 days New York City, NY Retained NABF Heavyweight title;
Vacated title later in 1974
Win Rudi Lubbers Decision (unanimous) 12 (12) October 20, 1973 31 years, 276 days Jakarta, Indonesia
Win Ken Norton Decision (split) 12 (12) September 10, 1973 31 years, 236 days Inglewood, CA Won NABF Heavyweight title
Loss Ken Norton Decision (split) 12 (12) March 31, 1973 31 years, 73 days San Diego, CA Lost NABF Heavyweight title
Win Joe Bugner Decision (unanimous) 12 (12) February 14, 1973 31 years, 28 days Las Vegas, NV
Win Bob Foster KO 7 (12) November 21, 1972 30 years, 309 days Stateline, NV Retained NABF Heavyweight title
Win Floyd Patterson TKO 7 (12) September 20, 1972 30 years, 247 days New York City, NY Retained NABF Heavyweight title
Win Alvin Lewis TKO 11 (12), 1:15 July 19, 1972 30 years, 184 days Dublin, Ireland
Win Jerry Quarry TKO 7 (12), 0:19 June 27, 1972 30 years, 162 days Las Vegas, NV Retained NABF Heavyweight title
Win George Chuvalo Decision (unanimous) 12 (12) May 1, 1972 30 years, 105 days Vancouver, Canada Retained NABF Heavyweight title
Win Mac Foster Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) April 1, 1972 30 years, 75 days Tokyo, Japan
Win Jürgen Blin KO 7 (12), 2:12 December 26, 1971 29 years, 343 days Zurich, Switzerland
Win Buster Mathis Decision (unanimous) 12 (12) November 17, 1971 29 years, 304 days Houston, TX Retained NABF Heavyweight title
Win Jimmy Ellis TKO 12 (12), 2:10 July 26, 1971 29 years, 190 days Houston, TX Won vacant NABF Heavyweight title
Loss Joe Frazier Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) March 8, 1971 29 years, 50 days New York City, NY "The Fight of the Century";
Match was for WBA/WBC Heavyweight
Win Oscar Bonavena TKO 15 (15), 2:03 December 7, 1970 28 years, 324 days New York City, NY Won NABF Heavyweight title;
Vacated title in 1971
Win Jerry Quarry TKO 3 (15) October 26, 1970 28 years, 282 days Atlanta, GA
Win Zora Folley KO 7 (15), 1:48 March 22, 1967 25 years, 64 days New York City, NY Retained WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles;
Stripped of titles on 1967-04-28
Win Ernie Terrell Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) February 6, 1967 25 years, 20 days Houston, TX Retained WBC Heavyweight title,
Won WBA Heavyweight title
Win Cleveland Williams TKO 3 (15) November 14, 1966 24 years, 301 days Houston, TX Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Karl Mildenberger TKO 12 (15) September 10, 1966 24 years, 236 days Frankfurt, West Germany Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Brian London KO 3 (15) August 6, 1966 24 years, 201 days London, England Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Henry Cooper TKO 6 (15), 1:38 May 21, 1966 24 years, 124 days London, England Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win George Chuvalo Decision (unanimous) 15 (15) March 29, 1966 24 years, 71 days Toronto, Canada Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Floyd Patterson TKO 12 (15), 2:18 November 22, 1965 23 years, 309 days Las Vegas, NV Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Sonny Liston KO 1 (15), 2:12 May 25, 1965 23 years, 128 days Lewiston, ME Retained WBC Heavyweight title
Win Sonny Liston TKO 7 (15) February 25, 1964 22 years, 39 days Miami Beach, FL Won WBA/WBC Heavyweight titles;
Stripped of WBA title on 1964-06-19
Win Henry Cooper TKO 5 (10), 2:15 June 18, 1963 21 years, 152 days London, England
Win Doug Jones Decision (unanimous) 10 (10) March 13, 1963 21 years, 55 days New York City, NY
Win Charley Powell KO 3, 2:04 January 24, 1963 21 years, 7 days Pittsburgh, PA
Win Archie Moore TKO 4 (10), 1:35 November 15, 1962 20 years, 302 days Los Angeles, CA
Win Alejandro Lavorante KO 5 (10), 1:48 July 20, 1962 20 years, 184 days Los Angeles, CA
Win Billy Daniels TKO 7 (10), 2:21 May 19, 1962 20 years, 122 days New York City, NY
Win George Logan TKO 4 (10), 1:34 April 23, 1962 20 years, 96 days New York City, NY
Win Don Warner TKO 4, 0:34 March 28, 1962 20 years, 70 days Miami Beach, FL
Win Sonny Banks TKO 4 (10), 0:26 February 10, 1962 20 years, 24 days New York City, NY
Win Willi Besmanoff TKO 7 (10), 1:55 November 29, 1961 19 years, 316 days Louisville, KY
Win Alex Miteff TKO 6 (10), 1:45 October 7, 1961 19 years, 263 days Louisville, KY
Win Alonzo Johnson Decision (unanimous) 10 (10) July 22, 1961 19 years, 186 days Louisville, KY
Win Duke Sabedong Decision (unanimous) 10 (10) June 26, 1961 19 years, 160 days Las Vegas, NV
Win LaMar Clark KO 2 (10), 1:27 April 19, 1961 19 years, 92 days Louisville, KY
Win Donnie Fleeman TKO 7 (8) February 21, 1961 19 years, 35 days Miami Beach, FL
Win Jim Robinson KO 1 (8), 1:34 February 7, 1961 19 years, 21 days Miami Beach, FL
Win Tony Esperti TKO 3 (8), 1:30 January 17, 1961 19 years, 0 days Miami Beach, FL
Win Herb Siler KO 4 (8) December 27, 1960 18 years, 345 days Miami Beach, FL
Win Tunney Hunsaker Decision (unanimous) 6 (6) October 29, 1960 18 years, 286 days Louisville, KY
at the 1960 Summer Olympics · Muhammad Ali versus Sonny Liston · Fight
of the Century · Ali-Frazier II · The Rumble in the Jungle · Thrilla in
(film) · I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali · "Muhammad
Ali" (song) · When We Were Kings · The Greatest (film) · Muhammad Ali
Heavyweight Boxing · Foes of Ali · Superman vs. Muhammad Ali
Marcellus Clay, Sr. (father) · Odessa Grady Clay (mother) · Rahman Ali
(brother) · Veronica Porsche Ali (wife) · Laila Ali (daughter) · Angelo
Dundee (cornerman) · Drew Bundini Brown (trainer and cornerman) · Ferdie
Pacheco (Personal Physician & cornerman) · Joe E. Martin · Archie
Independent's Sports Department
1 MUHAMMAD ALI
like a butterfly to the top of the sporting lists. He was the first man
to win the world heavyweight boxing title three times, but it was the
manner of his achievement which made an unrivalled public impact. Yet he
defied opinion to embrace the Moslem faith at the height of his
prowess, and missed four years through suspension after refusing to
fight in Vietnam. Reclaiming his title in 1973 by outfoxing the mighty
George Foreman confirmed his own estimation that he was "the greatest".
the age of 17 he scored a hat-trick for Brazil in the 1958 World Cup
semi-final, and added two more extraordinary goals as his team won the
final. Where do you go from there? In Pele's case, up. The man who was
christened Edson Arantes Do Nascimento - he never knew how he came by
his nickname - went on to thrill the world game with his imagination and
talent, masterminding Brazil's 1970 World Cup victory a year after
becoming the first player to score 1,000 goals.
3 DONALD BRADMAN
the greatest batsman of all time, Bradman averaged 99.94 in his 52 Test
matches. To put his mastery in perspective, the next best average is
held by Graeme Pollock with 60.97. Only 5ft 7in tall, Bradman
accumulated his runs through patience, concentration and fine judgement,
though some saw his play as mechanical rather than inspired. He
dominated Australian cricket throughout the 1930s and 1940s and survived
the infamous "Bodyline" series against England.
4 JACK NICKLAUS
20 major championship wins to his name, the man who came to be known as
the "Golden Bear" is acknowledged as the most successful golfer in
history. It took a while for the public to embrace this bear, however,
as he displaced the charismatic Arnold Palmer as the world's top player
in the 1960s. Lost his natural chubbiness in the 1970s and 1980s but
retained his phenomenal drive and concentration, winning his last US
Open in 1986, 24 years after his first.
5 JESSE OWENS
place in history was assured for this sharecropper's son when he set
six world records in the space of an hour at a meeting in 1935 - the
last of which, in the long jump, stood for 20 years. And this despite
the fact that he had a bad back... A year later, despite being shunned
by Adolf Hitler, he became the outstanding figure of the 1936 Berlin
Olympics, winning four gold medals. The grace of his running and
personality won him as many admirers as did his achievements.
6 ROD LAVER
only player to win the Grand Slam twice, first as an amateur in 1962,
then as a professional in 1969. The greatest-ever left-hander was also
undefeated in the four successive Wimbledon tournaments he contested in
1961, 1962, 1968 and 1969. It was the tenacity and aggression of this
red-haired player's game which wore down his opponents, earning him the
nickname of "The Rocket". The effectiveness of his serve, with its kick
and placement, was unmatched in his era.
13 Gary Sobers
greatest all-rounder in cricket history. A brilliant fielder and
versatile bowler (fast medium, slow left-arm orthodox or spin), the West
Indian was also one of the greatest batsmen of all time. His unbeaten
365 against Pakistan stood for years as the highest Test score.
14 Martina Navratilova
she retired in 1994, this Czech-born US citizen had won 167 singles
titles, including a record nine at her beloved Wimbledon, where she
became a hugely popular crowd pleaser. Brave and emotional on court, and
off, where she risked scorn as a lesbian.
15 Alfredo Di Stefano
inspiration - and dictatorial presence - in the Real Madrid team which
won the first five European Cups, Di Stefano was a deep-lying centre
forward of immense power and cunning. Outstanding in the 7-3 win over
Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European final at Hampden.
16 Joe Louis
"Brown Bomber" was arguably the most effective heavyweight champion,
winning the title in 1937 and retiring in 1948 after 25 successful
defences, memorably in 1938 against Germany's Max Schmeling in a match
imbued with racist overtones by the Nazis.
17 John McEnroe
equally for his consummate skill and on-court behaviour which took
brattishness to new levels - "You cannot be serious...you are the pits
of the world" - he won four US titles and three at Wimbledon, where he
ended the winning streak of Bjorn Borg.
18 Fanny Blankers-Koen
women's athletics on the map when, as a 30-year-old mother of two, was
persuaded to revive her career by her husband and went on to win four
gold medals at the 1948 Olympics. In her career, the Flying Dutchwoman
set world records in seven events.
19 Ayrton Senna
the time he was killed at Imola in 1994, this Brazilian had won three
world championships and established himself as an idol in the sport,
recognised for his unrivalled intensity and perfectionism. He pushed his
car, and himself, to the limits, at all times.
20 Linford Christie
his high point, in 1994, this late starter ruled the world of
sprinting: he was Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion.
The west London contender took the battle to the American sprinters for
10 years before his controversial exit at the 1996 Olympics.
21 Jack Hobbs
first batsman to reach 4,000 and 5,000 runs in Test cricket (in 1926
and 1929), his exploits for Surrey and England were celebrated as much
for their style as their statistics. Deceptively strong, he scored 98 of
his 197 first-class centuries after the age of 40.
22 Steve Redgrave
supreme oarsman, the dyslexic son of a Marlow builder, he has won four
successive Olympic titles and is currently seeking a fifth in Sydney. An
unyielding and remorseless trainer, he has produced some of his finest
results despite suffering from colitis.
23 Sugar Ray Robinson
balance and rhythm he developed as a nightclub tap dancer enabled
Robinson to bestride the ring between 1943 and 1951, when he won 91
consecutive fights. Five times world middleweight champion, he earned
his nickname for being "sweet as sugar".
35 Daley Thompson
claim to being the greatest athlete in the world during the 1980s, when
he won two Olympic titles and set a world record in the decathlon. His
superb natural ability was allied to a natural arrogance which psyched
out his rivals on the big occasions.
36 Bill Russell
only 6ft 9in and 220lb, Russell earned the reputation as the sport's
gretest player in a 13-year career which saw him help Boston Celtics to
11 NBA Championships. Known as "The Ghost" for his uncanny ability to
rise up and block his opponents' shots.
37 Stanley Matthews
Wizard of the Dribble employed his devastating body swerve to good
effect at the top level for more than 30 years, playing for Stoke at 50.
Famously and finally won an FA Cup winner's medal for Blackpool in
1953, in a match now known as "The Matthews final".
38 Arnold Palmer
bold and powerful style was perfect to launch the game into the modern
professional era. He wowed the crowds as he won seven major
championships between 1958 and 1964 before giving way at the top of the
game to the up and coming Jack Nicklaus.
39 Roger Bannister
in history as the first man to break the four-minute mile, a feat he
achieved on 6 May 1954, this Oxford medical student earned a second
place in the annals with his tenacious victory over Australian rival
John Landy in the Empire Games of the same year.
40 Babe Ruth
dynamic hitting of this orphan who was raised in Baltimore, Maryland,
brought him 714 home runs, a record unequalled in his lifetime. He was a
giant of American sport in the 1920s, helping to shape baseball into a
hugely popular spectacle.
41 Mark Spitz
the world by making good his prediction of winning seven golds at the
1972 Olympics. It was ample recompense for what happened four years
earlier, when as a cocky 18-year-old he had failed to pull off a similar
feat at the Mexico Olympics.
42 Sergei Bubka
as the supreme pole-vaulter of his generation, winning six consecutive
world titles from 1983, this son of a Red Army sergeant was the first
man to clear 6 metres, and became legendary for the financial rewards he
managed to reap as the sport went open.
43 Bobby Charlton
above all as an ambassador for the game because of his grace on the
pitch and dignity off it, he survived the 1958 Munich air crash to help
win the 1966 World Cup (he made a record 106 appearances for England)
and the 1968 European Cup for Manchester United.
44 Haile Gebrselassie
little Ethiopian, one of eight brothers and sisters, has been the
dominant figure at everything from 3,000m to 10,000m for the last five
years, winning Olympic and world titles and reshaping the record books
in the process. Has had a film made of his life.
45 Jahangir Khan
spindly boy named "Conqueror of the World" lived up to that onerous
burden as he became the No 1 player, winning 10 British Open and six
world titles. Fulfilled the ambitions of his elder brother Torsam, a
top-10 player who died of a heart attack on court.
57 Ben Hogan
uncommunicative, private, he gained a reputation for being the
hardest-working player of his day. After a near-fatal car accident in
1949, he returned to enjoy even greater success in the game, adding
Open, US Open and Masters titles.
58 Duncan Edwards
the time of his premature death at 21 following the 1958 Munich air
crash, he was an established England international of towering strength
and ability who had also helped Manchester United to two League titles.
What might he have gone on to do?
59 Jack Dempsey
former hobo who had fought for his supper, he won the heavyweight title
in 1919 with a ferocious defeat of Jess Willard. As the Manassa Mauler,
he defeated Georges Carpentier two years later in a bout which
attracted the first one million dollar gate.
60 Vivian Richards
and powerful as a batsman, highly effective as a motivator, Richards
captained the West Indies to 27 wins in 50 Tests between 1980 and 1991.
Always big on big occasions, his match-winning innings of 138 to win the
1979 World Cup final was typical.
61 Nadia Comaneci
to the world's attention at the 1976 Olympics when, as a 14-year- old,
she received the first perfect 10 for an exercise. Similar scores in
five other disciplines brought the diminutive Romanian an overall title
she narrowly failed to retain four years later.
62 Serge Blanco
glamorous, sublimely gifted, this Venezuelan-born Frenchman was a
hugely influential figure as he made 93 international appearances at
full back up to 1991. He scored 38 tries, most gloriously to take France
into the 1987 World Cup final.
63 Pete Sampras
by his peers as the greatest grass court player of all time, Sampras
surpassed Bjorn Borg's record of five Wimbedon wins this year despite
being in poor form and health earlier in the season. Has a fine
all-round game and a blessedly calm temperament.
64 Dawn Fraser
her career was ended by a 10-year ban following horseplay at the 1964
Olympics - attempting to steal a flag from the Emperor's Palace - she
won eight Olympic titles. She was unique in winning three consecutive
100m freestyle gold medals.
65 Juan Schiaffino
of one of the goals which won the World Cup for Uruguay in 1950, this
skilful, unhurried inside left was a fine passer of the ball and
possessed a strong left-foot shot. Helped Milan win the title after
joining them in 1954 for a world record fee of pounds 72,000.
66 Sugar Ray Leonard
natural ability recalled that of his near namesake, Sugar Ray Robinson,
as he won world titles from light-welterweight to light-heavyweight. He
came out of retirement four times - once too often for those who
recalled his epic 1981 win over Thomas Hearns.
67 Olga Korbut
dazzling emergence of this waif-like figure - 5ft and 6st - at the 1972
Olympics, where she won golds for beam and floor, established a new
pattern of child-like gymnasts. Although her colleague Lyudmila
Tourischeva took overall gold, Korbut's impact was unmatched.
79 Joe Montana
master of the winning comeback, this durable product of a Pennsylvania
mill town led the San Francisco 49ers to win four Super Bowl titles from
quarterback. A superb passer, he was voted Most Valuable Player in
three of those matches.
80 Phil Bennett
for his jinking side-step, demonstrated twice at the start of the
Barbarians' legendary try against the All Blacks in 1973, Bennett set an
international points record of 210 from fly-half, and in 1977 became
only the second Welshman to captain the Lions.
81 Alex Murphy
outstanding scrum-half who played in four winning Challenge Cup finals
for three different teams, he won the first of 27 Great Britain caps in
1958 at the age of 19, contributing to a 2-1 Test victory over
Australia. His GB Test match record of four tries stood for 32 years.
82 Bobby Moore
and imperturbable at the heart of the West Ham and England defence,
Moore played a captain's part as his country won the World Cup in 1966.
His stature at the 1970 World Cup was graphically illustrated as he
swapped shirts with Pele.
83 Paul Elvstrom
Dane became the first sportsman to win individual gold medals at four
successive Olympics in 1960, and went on to become one of only four to
have competed at eight Olympics. In 1983-4, won European titles in
Tornado class partnered by his daughter, Trine.
84 Suzanne Lenglen
prevailing views of "decency" as she won Wimbledon six times between
1919 and 25 in flowing dresses, scorning to wear the standard corsets
and petticoats. A dominant player, she never conceded more than four
games in her last five finals.
85 Miguel Indurain
Spaniard became the first rider to win the Tour de France five times in
succession in 1995 thanks to an extraordinary physiology - low heart-
rate, and huge lung capacity. This gave him time-trialing ability allied
to strength on the mountain rides.
86 Lev Yashin
acrobatic, always dressed in black, this former ice hockey player was
renowned for his sportsmanship as well as his goalkeeping. Known as the
Black Panther, he won 78 caps for the Soviet Union and was voted
European Player of the Year in 1963.
87 Ellery Hanley
effective as either a forward or a back, this particular blunt
Yorkshireman joined Wigan for a record fee of pounds 150,000 in 1985
after establishing himself as a prolific scorer for Bradford Northern
and GB. Scored 63 tries for Wigan in his first season.
up to be a fighter - he was regularly dipped in cold water as a baby to
toughen him up - Yamashita won 203 consecutive contests between 1977
and 1985, winning the 1984 Olympic title en route. Only 5ft 11in, he
weighed 20st 6lb and moved fast.
89 Mark Todd
as the foremost horseman in modern eventing, this New Zealand dairy
farmer showed his special gift by winning Badminton in 1994 on a pick-up
ride. Sold most of his herd in 1984 to finance his trip to the Los
Angeles Olympics, where he won gold.
7 JUAN FANGIO
champion at Formula One in 1951 and each year from 1954 to 1957, he won
24 of his 51 grand prix races, a success rate that has not been
bettered. He was renowned for his stamina, concentration and ability to
handle a car in all conditions. Born in Argentina, the son of an Italian
father, he learned his business as a garage mechanic in Argentina and
by 21 he had built his own racing car - but he soon tranferred to those
of Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati.
8 EMIL ZATOPEK
ran like a man on the brink of collapse, his face contorted with
effort, his head lolling. But far from succumbing, this self-trained
Czech - he would run in army boots for stamina - registered startling
achievements in the post-War years. After taking the 10,000m at the 1948
Olympics, he brought off an unprecedented triple four years later,
winning the 5,000m and 10,000m and, at his first attempt, the marathon.
In all, this modest, much-loved man set 18 world records.
9 CARL LEWIS
the achievement of Jesse Owens when he won four Olympic titles at the
Los Angeles Games of 1984, and took that total to nine 12 years later
when he won his fourth consecutive long jump title in Atlanta at the age
of 35. He was as graceful and exuberant on the track at the end of his
career as he had been at the beginning, but his manner in everyday life -
which was seen as calculating and arrogant - meant that he was never
received as warmly as Owens had been.
10 MILDRED `BABE' DIDRIKSON
Golf, athletics and basketball
of the most versatile sporting figures in history, she excelled at
basketball in her early career and was an All-American player in 1930-
32. At the 1932 Olympics she won two of the three events she entered,
the javelin and 80m hurdles, in world records. She also set a world
record for throwing a baseball - 90.22m. But she is best remembered as a
golfer who once drove 315 yards and amassed 17 tournament victories in a
row in 1947, including the British Women's Amateur.
11 DIEGO MARADONA
and squat, with dynamic acceleration and enterprise, this child of an
impoverished Argentinian family elevated himself to the pinnacle of the
game before dropping away amid charges of cocaine abuse. Only able to
show glimpses of his potential at the 1982 World Cup, he led his country
to victory four years later, disposing of England en route thanks
partly to "The Hand of God" and partly to a goal which demonstrated his
12 GARETH EDWARDS
member of the Welsh team during their glory years in the 1970s, he
played 53 consecutive times for his country and 10 Tests for the British
Lions, including the series victories against New Zealand and South
Africa. Fast, strong and astute, he formed legendary half-back pairings
with Barry John and Phil Bennett, and scored a record 20 tries for
Wales, but it was his try for the Barbarians, against the All Blacks in
1973, for which he is perhaps most often celebrated.
24 Johan Cruyff
intelligent and absurdly gifted, Cruyff did not get the World Cup
winner's medal his performance at the 1974 finals deserved as the
Netherlands lost to West Germany, but he led Ajax to European Cup wins
between 1971 and 1973 and led the way in "Total Football".
25 Bjorn Borg
topspin, fanatic will - these were the key features as the long-locked
Swede turned from teen idol to serial champion at Wimbledon in the
1970s. It took John McEnroe at his inspired best to end Borg's five-year
winning streak in the 1981 final.
26 Sebastian Coe
Olympic 1500m champion, 11 times a world record breaker, this slight,
electrifying figure - at one time uniquely holding 800m, 1,000m, 1,500m
and mile records simultaneously - ruled the middle-distance scene with
British rival Steve Ovett in the 1980s.
27 Ian Botham
braggadocio swept away the doubts from English cricket in the early
1980s as he became the world's leading all-rounder with exuberant
performances on and off the pitch, notably a match-winning 149 not out
against Australia in 1981.
28 Lester Piggott
first winner was in 1948 at the age of 13; by 1993 he had ridden more
than 5,300 winners to establish himself as the foremost jockey of his
generation. Withdrawn, due to his partial deafness and speech
impediment, he expressed himself to the utmost on the turf.
29 George Best
looks and lifestyle in the 1960s saw him dubbed the "Fifth Beatle", but
Best was a one-off, a genius of a player whose inspired goal
effectively won Manchester United the European Cup in 1968 but whose
problems with alcohol saw him quit the stage too early.
30 Eddie Merckx
rode so hard so often they called him "The Cannibal". As a rider ihe
had no weakness: he was the strongest time trialler and mountain climber
in the world. LIttle wonder the tough Belgian won five Tour de France
races and five titles in the Giro D'Italia.
31 Michael Jordan
popular athlete whose unique scoring ability for his NBA team, the
Chicago Bulls, established him in popular culture before he retired for
the first time in 1993, by which time he had led the Bulls to three
titles and the US to two Olympic titles.
32 Billy Boston
Welsh winger who scored 571 tries in a superb rugby league career after
being snapped up by Wigan scouts in 1953 after he had completed
National Service. At 15st, and in full flight, he was a persuasive
argument to opposing players to leave well alone.
33 Rocky Marciano
heavyweight champion who finished in 1955 with a perfect record: 49
fights, 49 wins, 43 by knockout. A devastating puncher with both hands,
he could also absorb terrible punishment, although that was rare. His
mother prayed for his opponents.
34 Ferenc Puskas
casual roll-back with which he left England's Billy Wright lunging at
thin air before he lashed in a goal for Hungary in their 6-3 victory at
Wembley in 1953 said everything about this forward, who excelled in
Britain seven years later as Real Madrid won the European Cup.
46 Barry John
of the side-step and the drop kick, it was not just fellow Welshmen who
referred to this fly-half and British Lion as "the King". In
partnership with Gareth Edwards, he established Wales as the leading
home nation before retiring at the early age of 27.
47 Al Oerter
as "The Man with the Golden Arm", this tough New Yorker won four
successive Olympic discus titles from 1956. Each victory came against
more favoured contenders and in 1964 Oerter defied back and rib injuries
to hurl out an excruciating winning throw.
48 Shane Warne
bowling in general and leg-spin bowling in particular were becoming
lost arts until Warne's arrival. No spinner has taken more Test wickets
and he is now poised to break Dennis Lillee's record number of
Australian wickets. Injury threatened his career until this year's
49 Jansher Khan
fellow Pakistani Jahangir as the world's leading player, taking the
world title in 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1992. A relentless competitor, he
struggled to overthrow the old master, losing to him in the World Open
of 1988 and the British Open of 1991.
50 Paavo Nurmi
introverted, unlovable but unstoppable Flying Finn won a record nine
Olympic golds as he dominated middle distances in the 1920s with
scientific training methods. His statue now stands outside the Olympic
Stadium in Helsinki, where he carried the 1952 Olympic flame.
51 Joe DiMaggio
married to Marilyn Monroe, celebrated in song by Simon and Garfunkel,
here was a genuine folk hero whose baseball exploits for the New York
Yankees set new standards - notably his streak of hitting in 56
consecutive games in 1941.
52 Johnny Unitas
to a poor coal-mining family, this steely- nerved quarterback helped
the Baltimore Colts to NFL titles in 1958 and 1959 and a Super Bowl in
1971. Threw a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games from 1956 to 1960,
considered the game's safest record.
53 Franz Beckenbauer
"Kaiser" led West Germany to 1974 World Cup victory from the back after
losing to England eight years earlier. He became the only man to
captain and manage a World Cup-winning team when he guided his country
to victory in the 1990 tournament.
54 Joe Davis
original snooker supremo, he was world champion from 1926 until 1955,
when he became the first man to make a maximum break of 147 under
championship conditions. Helped turn snooker into a world game; also
world billiards champion.
brilliantly tricky and speedy right-winger, if undisciplined, the
"Little Bird" flew to telling effect for Brazil as they won the 1958 and
1962 World Cups. Won 50 caps in a career which also embraced the 1966
World Cup finals in England.
56 Abebe Bikila
in his native Ethiopia after becoming surprise winner of the 1960
Olympic marathon, running barefoot. In 1964, wearing shoes, he became
the first man to retain the title - six weeks after an operation for
appendicitis. Won 12 of his 15 marathons.
68 Mike Hailwood
21, became youngest-ever world motorcycle champion in 1961 (at 250cc),
and won further titles at 250 and 500cc. "Mike the Bike" also won 14
Isle of Man TT races up to 1979, a record which stood until 1993. Turned
to Formula One motor racing in 1971.
69 Colin Meads
uncompromising master of the hand-off, this All Black was often in
trouble with referees. In 1967 he became only the second player to be
sent off in an international match, but he was a hugely effective lock
forward who played a record 15 seasons.
70 Wayne Gretzky
Great One", who retired last year aged 37, smashed all NHL scoring
records, surpassing Gordy Howe's career points total of 1,850. He became
ice hockey's greatest-ever goalscorer. No giant, he dominated the game
with skill, stickhandling and unrivalled vision.
71 David Campese
of the most exciting and inventive running backs of the modern era, he
was a player of the old style, never afraid to attempt the unorthodox.
Won the 1991 World Cup with Australia. An acknowledged master of winding
up opponents, he retired last year.
72 Gordon Richards
a record 4,870 winners in Britain and was champion jockey a record 26
times. A strong, perfectly-balanced jockey with a fierce will to win, he
was nevertheless a model sportsman. He was also the first professional
jockey to be knighted.
73 Naim Suleymanoglu
for pound, perhaps the strongest man who has ever lived. A member of
the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, he sought political asylum in Turkey
after winning two world titles for Bulgaria in 1985 and 1986. Became
Olympic champion for his new country two years later.
74 Guo Yue-Ha
his sport's greatest ever player, Guo deserved to win more than his two
world titles (1981 and 1983). A modest and unassuming man, he was a
superb athlete with a wonderful forehand, which he would sometimes play
from wide on the backhand side.
75 Nancy Lopez
good looks, easy smile and pleasant personality turned her into a focus
of the women's game in the 1970s, when she won nine tournaments, five
consecutively, in 1978. Remained a dominant force in the women's game
throughout the 1980s.
76 Michael Schumacher
by many as the natural Formula One successor to the late Ayrton Senna,
this German driver allies superb natural gifts to a now-unrivalled
intensity which makes him the most feared driver on the circuit. Already
has two world titles to his name.
77 Franz Klammer
his position as clear favourite for the Olympic downhill title in 1976,
withstanding enormous pressure of expectation from his native
Austrians. Last of the top seeds to race, he made up crucial time in the
late stages of his run. A farmer's son, famously determined.
78 Jim Clark
Formula One champion in 1964 and 1965, he beat Fangio's record with 25
grand prix wins in his career before dying in a crash in 1968 while
testing at Hockenheim. The son of a Scottish sheep farmer, he was one of
the great natural drivers.
90 Susie Susanti
athletic and supremely talented, the Indonesian is widely regarded as
the best woman badminton player of all time. Became the first player to
hold all the major championships, winning the world, World Grand Prix,
World Cup and All-England titles.
91 Mal Meninga
barrel-chested policeman from Queensland was a great attacking centre
who made a record 39 appearances for Australia between 1982 and 1992.
Top scorer in the 1982 tour of Britain with 118 points. Became highest-
paid player when he moved to St Helens in 1985.
92 Jack Johnson
heavyweight who was hated by white America because of his arrogant
manner. He was forced to win the heavyweight title in Australia after
bigotry prevented him fighting in his native land. Despite the
controversy of his life he was an outstanding boxer.
93 Eric Heiden
a unique clean sweep of all five speed skating gold medals at the 1980
Winter Olympics, setting Olympic records at each distance. After
retiring in 1987, he employed his hugely powerful legs in another career
as a professional cyclist.
94 Dhyan Chand
greatest ever player led India to the Olympic titles in 1928, 1932 and
1936. Supremely gifted, Chand was a prolific goalscorer. In the 1936
Olympic final he scored six goals in an 8-1 win over Germany. He learned
the game from British Army officers in Allahabad.
95 Steve Davis
domination in the game to rank with his namesake, Joe. Composure and
generally flawless technique brought him world titles in 1981, 1983,
1984, 1987 and 1989. Although overtaken by a younger generation, he
remains an ambassador for the sport.
96 Irina Rodnina
as the greatest pairs skater in history, she won three Olympic golds
and 10 world titles, the first four of which came alongside Aleksey
Ulanov, and the next six with husband, Aleksandr Zaitsev. Received
maximum marks from all 12 judges at 1973 Europeans.
97 Johnny Weismuller
becoming world- famous on screen as Tarzan, this Hungarian-born
American set a string of world records and won three golds at the 1924
Olympics, adding two more four years later. He was the first man to beat
a minute for 100m with 58.6 in 1922.
98 John Surtees
Kent-born racer was the only man to become world champion on both two
wheels and four. He won the 350 and 500cc titles from 1958 to 1960
before moving on to Formula One where, driving for Ferrari, he won the
title in 1964.
99 Jim Thorpe
American Indian originally named Wa-Tho-Huck (Bright Path), he won the
Olympic decathlon and pentathlon in 1912, setting world records in both.
Stripped of the medals a year later because he had earned 15 dollars a
week playing baseball.
100 Christy Ring
the greatest hero in Irish sporting history, Ring towered over his
sport in the 1940s and 1950s and was the first player to win eight
all-Ireland medals. A great competitor who put a strong emphasis on
fitness, Ring was highly skilled and could play in numerous positions.