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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Sports Personalities – Famous and Evergreen


1. Pele

Football fame Pele

Among the top sports personalities, Pele is the most famous person and he still has the same reverence in the sports circle. It happens even after the iconic footballer of the 20th century hung his boots, a long time ago.

He was born on 23 October 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Minas Gerais, Brazil and named as Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

The famous name ‘Pele’ has no meaning. In some instances, he mispronounced the name of a goalkeeper ‘Bile’ and got the nickname ‘Pele’

Pele’s father taught him the football and he started to play with the ball made from a sock filled with papers as the real football was not an affordable one for him. To sustain his life he worked as a waiter in a nearby tea shop which helped him to manage his expenses.

In his youth, he played indoor leagues. As the ball moves faster indoors the practices he got in the leagues helped him with the speed of reactions.

He rose in stature quickly through leagues. Then Pele got an entry into Santos FC, the Brazilian club at the age of 15. After that, he became the top scorer in the league and entered the national team.

Above all, the Brazilian president declared him as a national treasure to tackle the other foreign clubs which try to buy him.

He scored six goals in the 1958 World Cup and also scored in the final against Sweden and inspired the Brazilian victory. Further, in 1962, Brazil retained the world cup.

Brazil won the final against Italy 4-1 in the 1970 World Cup, and the game is one of the greatest in the history of football. During the period, Pele was at the peak of his performance, and the world still remembers him for the rare feat.

He scored 77 goals in 92 games, and Pele has the highest strike rate. Most importantly, he scored more than a thousand goals in professional games.

He signed with New York Cosmos and played for three seasons and he led the team to US Title in 1977. Subsequently, in the year 1977, he announced his retirement.

Know more about the legendary footballer

2.Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali is a famous boxer and is one among the top sports personalities
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Muhammad Ali was born on 17 January 1942 in Louisville, Kentucky. He got the name of his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. He is one of the sports personalities, who inspires people forever.

He changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam and also converted to Sunni Islam in 1975.

On October 29, 1960, he won his first fight in Louisville. From 1960 -63, he made an astounding winning record 19-0 with 15 knockouts. During this time he fought and won the fights against many notable, well-seasoned players.

He was 6’3” in height and had a unique ability of feet movement to avoid punches and his style was unorthodox in heavyweight boxing which won him laurels.

His encounter with Dough Jones in 1963 became famous and got the name “ Fight of the Year”. He won the 10 round game after much dispute. After that, the next fight with Henry Cooper was a memorable one. In the match, Cooper knocked him down in the fourth round and the organizers stopped the fight as Cooper received a deep cut on his face in the fifth round.

In the fight with Sonny Liston’s in Feb 1964 in Miami, Ali’s quotes “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” and “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” became famous and sports enthusiasts still remember it and cherish the power of his quotes.

He cited his religious affiliations and refused to serve in the military for the Vietnam war. In connection with his refusal, the boxing commission stripped his title and banned him for three years.

He got a conviction for refusing induction into the army and got the sentence of five years in prison.

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?” – he asked. After that, he got the chance to fight again in 1970 and in 1971 when the court reversed his conviction.

In his comeback, Ali fought Oscar Bonavena at Madison Square Garden in December 1970 and he stopped Bonavena in the 15th round.

In 1971, he fought with Frazier at Madison Square Garden. The fight: “The Fight of the Century”, was one of the most famous bouts of all time.

Frazier won the fight and retained the title and Ali met with his first professional loss. In the event, the effects of ‘“ring rust” worked against Ali.

In 1974, Ali won a match against champion George Foreman.

He suffered from Parkinson’s disease in the early 1980s and he received many honors and accolades in his retired life. The famous boxer died on June 3, 2016, from respiratory illness.

For his achievements and for his open-mindedness, he still remains as one of the top sports personalities.

3.Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is a famous basket ball player and he is one among the top sports personalities.
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Michael Jordan (MJ) was born on 17 February 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most loveable sports personalities.

He was short and struggled to get into his school team. So he diverted his attention and began to concentrate on other sports like baseball.

Then Jordan grew up to 6 feet 3 inch which helped him to dominate the game. He joined the University of North Carolina and he earned the name as college player of the year. In 1984 he also joined into NBA by Chicago Bulls.

In 1984, he got the chance to be a member of the US Olympic basketball team and won the gold medal.

He emerged as a super talent and became a crowd puller. During the play, he moved with ease and displayed unique acrobatic skills. The excellent talent combined with humility made him the most sought after sports person.

In 1991 Chicago Bulls team won their first championship. Then the club won six titles in nine years.

When Jordan returned to the Olympics in 1992 US easily won the Olympic gold.

In the 1994-95 season, he came back to play basketball after a gap. Jordan lost his youthful speed. In the semi-finals, he won the title for the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96.

Jordan continued to play past his 40th birthday.

He had played a total of 1,072 games, with points per game average of 30.1 and a total of 32,292 points.

After making his final retirement, Jordan has concentrated on management and ownership.

In June 2006, he bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats and gained outright ownership, becoming the first former NBA star to become the major owner of a league franchise.

In June 2010, Forbes Magazine ranked him as the 20th-most powerful celebrity in the world with $55 million earned between June 2009 and June 2010. According to the Forbes article, Jordan Brand generates $1 billion in sales for Nike.

He played 15 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. In his biography, the official NBA website states that “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.”

He was the reason for popularising NBA around the world during the 1980s and 1990s. He now owns NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

ESPN named Jordan as the greatest athlete of the 20th century in 1999. He won the NBA championship six times and won the NBA Most Valuable Player title 5 times.

He is the NBA’s greatest all-time player and he got $90 million as salary in his career and earned $1.4 billion from endorsements.

Jordan bought a majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets in 2010 for $175 million. The Hornets are now worth $1.05 billion and Jordan owns 90% of the team. Jordan has sponsorship deals with Hanes, Gatorade, and Upper Deck including the major sponsor Nike.

Jordan earned an unforgettable name in the sports arena and he is one of the scintillating sports personalities.

4.Usain Bolt

 Usain Bolt is a well known athlete and is one among the top sports personalities

He was born on 21st August 1986 in Sherwood Content, Jamaica.

As a child, Bolt attended Waldensia Primary School. He began to show his sprint potential when he was at the age of twelve and he had become the school’s fastest runner in 100 meters race.

In 2002, he won Gold at the World Junior Championships in the 200 meters. He didn’t lead an austere, disciplined life and enjoyed the nightlife. But Usain didn’t miss the hard training and went further to win the Gold at the world championship in 2003.

He got his training under the new coach Fitz Coleman in 2004. In CARIFTA Games in Bermuda, he became the first junior sprinter to break 20 seconds for the 200 meters

His coach Glen Mills encouraged Usain to take a more professional approach. Though injuries set back his career he climbed in rankings.

He took the world by storm, in 2007 World Championships when he won silver in the 200m and 4*100 meter relay.

In the 2009 World Championships, he ran 100 meters in 9.58 seconds and set the world record. He also won 200 meters and 4*100 meters relay.

In the 2013 World Championships, he once again won gold in all three events and set another world record.

Bolt’s 2014 season was not up to the mark because of injuries. In the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, he skipped 100m individual but he did compete in the 100m relay. However, he led the team to a gold medal win and proved to be the star attraction of the games.

His 2016 Olympics was not up to his standards due to injuries. He didn’t get proper racing and training. But he won gold in all three events – 100m, 200m, and 100m relay.

He retired from the field after the 2017 World Championships in London.

He is famous for his cool attitude and by his achievements he seems invincible among the famous sports personalities.

Want to uplift your spirit? You would like to read about Life Lessons that Sports Teach You.

5.Roger Federer

Roger Federer is a famous tennis player and he is one among the top sports personalities
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Federer was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1981.

He started to receive coaching at the age of ten and as a furious young boy, he showed interest in many games. Most importantly his Australian coach Peter Carter repeatedly reminded him to be calm and subsequently, he changed his attitude. Now he is one of the calmest tennis players.

At the age of 17, in 1998 he won the boys Wimbledon tournament. Then he reached the final of the US Open.

He won his first title in 2001 at the Milan Indoor tournament. In the same year, he beat four-time champion Pete Sampras in Wimbledon and rose to prominence.

Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003 and he finished the year as world number 2.

In 2004 he won three grand slam singles titles and began to dominate the men’s tennis. He advanced further and became world number one and kept the title for the next four years.

In 2007 Wimbledon he beat R.Nadal in a thrilling five-set final and it was his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title. Sports followers still cherish it as one of the great Wimbledon finals.

The year 2011 was not a good one for Federer and he didn’t win a grand slam for the first time in several years. He faced stiff competition from Rafael Nadal, N Djokovic, and Andy Murray.

In 2012, he won his 7th Wimbledon title on grass. Further, he won a silver medal in the Olympics and a gold medal in the doubles.

Federer is a complete tennis player with excellent power, finesse, range of shots and excellent footwork.

In 2018, he successfully defended his Australian title.

Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time. He has won 20 Grand Slam titles and he achieved it in a period of intense competition. Moreover, it is “Tennis’ Golden Age’ for the ardent followers.

Federer will always be on the list of top sports personalities.

6.Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is a famous swimmer and Olympian
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Michael Fred Phelps was born on June 30, 1985, in Baltimore, Maryland in the USA.

His father, Fred, was an athlete and his mother Debbie was a middle-school principal. His parents got divorced in 1994 and he lived with his mother and sisters. However, they formed a close-knit family.

Phelps began swimming along with his two older sisters who joined the local swim team. In 1996, at the age of 15, the oldest sister tried to join the U.S. Olympic team. But injuries setback her ambitions.

Initially, Phelps feared to put his head down under the water. Then his coaches trained him to float on his back and he started with mastering the backstroke.

He started training at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center where he met his coach Bob Bowman. It was the right moment and the coach identified the unique talent and the winning attitude in him.

The coach started the intensive training at once and by 1999, Phelps had made into the U.S. National B Team. Phelps began his journey to become one of the evergreen sports personalities.

He participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia and he became the youngest American male swimmer to compete in Olympics in 68 years

In the spring of 2001, Phelps became the youngest male swimmer who set an international world record by setting a record time in butterfly stroke.

Phelps broke his record at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan and won the first international medal.

In 2002, at the U.S. Summer Nationals, he set a new world record for the 400-meter individual medley. He made the U.S. records in the 100-meter butterfly and the 200-meter individual medley.

He broke his own world record in the 400-meter individual medley in the same event next year.

After graduation from Towson in 2003, Phelps set five world records, including the 200-meter individual medley at the World Championships in Barcelona, Spain.

In the U.S. trials for the 2004 Summer Olympics, he broke his own world record again in the 400-meter individual medley.

In the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, Phelps won eight medals (including six gold) and tied the feat with Soviet gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin (1980) for the most medals in a single Olympic Games.

He set world records at the 2006 Pan Pacific Championships in Victoria, British Columbia, and the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia.

At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Phelps won his 14th career gold medal. He set the record for the most gold won by any Olympian.

In the Olympic Games, held in London, Phelps’ Olympic medal count increased to 22 and he set a new record for most Olympic medals.

In 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio Michael Phelps became the first American male swimmer to participated in five Olympic teams.

He retired from the sport after the 2016 Summer Olympics.

7.Jackie Joyner-Kersee

 Jackie Joyner-Kersee is an athlete and is one among the top sports personalities.
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Jackie Joyner-Kersee was born in 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois. She is ever remembered as one of the famous athletes among the sports personalities.

She is one of the greatest athletes in American history and she is the first American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in the long jump. She is also the first woman to compile 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon.

Further, Joyner-Kersee went on to win three golds, a silver and two bronze medals over four separate Olympics.

Subsequently, Jackie Joyner-Kersee became famous through her dominant performances in the Olympic games.

In 1984 she competed in her first Olympics in Los Angeles and she won the silver medal in the heptathlon, a seven-event competition that includes the 200-meter run, 800-meter run, and 100-meter hurdles.

In 1988 she won the Gold Medal in the Seol games. Joyner-Kersee also made a splash at the Seoul Games by accumulating a record 7,291 points in the heptathlon to win gold.

Moreover, she became the first American woman to win gold in the long jump.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Joyner-Kersee became the first woman to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the heptathlon. She also won a bronze in the long jump.

In 1996 Olympic, Joyner-Kersee won and took home a bronze medal in the long jump.

Joyner-Kersee won four gold medals at the World Championships. She also won the national heptathlon championship eight times and the national long jump title nine times.

She set the American record with her leap of 24 feet, 7 inches in 1994.

Most importantly, Joyner-Kersee set national records in hurdles at distances of 50, 55 and 60 meters.

She announced her retirement in 1998 and tried a career as a professional basketball player.

She came out of retirement with the goal of making it into the U.S. Olympic team for the fifth time but fell short at the 2000 Olympic trials.

In February 2001, she retired from the field at the age of 38.

Among the top sports personalities, she is ever remembered for her perseverance and hard work.

8.Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher is a racer and is one among the top sports personalities.

Michael Schumacher was born on January 3, 1969, in the town of Hürth, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. He is the most fascinating one among the sports personalities.

His parents were Rolf and Elisabeth and Rolf was a construction worker. Michael Schumacher showed interest in racing and his parents supported him from an early age.

In 1982, the young driver won the ‘German Junior Kart Championship’. Then in the following year, at the age of fourteen, he got his driving license.

He worked as a mechanic to support himself and went on to win several kart championships.

He participated in entry-level championships ‘Formula König’ and ‘Formula Ford’ in 1988 and won the ‘Formula Konig’ championship

In the year 1990, Michael competed in the ‘Formula 3’ championship of Germany for the ‘WTS’ team.

In the same year, he competed in the ‘World Sports-Prototype Championship’ as a part of the ‘Mercedes junior racing program’.

Schumacher finished first in Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez’. He took part in the next season of ‘World Sportscar Championship’ in 1991 where he drove Sauber–Mercedes-Benz C291′ and emerged as victorious.

He finished second in the ‘Japanese Formula 3000 Championship’ in the same year.

Schumacher competed in the Formula One race for the ‘Jordan Grand Prix’ team in 1991 and finished in seventh place.

The same year, he participated in the ‘Italian Grand Prix’ and finished fifth.

In 1992, he participated in the ‘Mexican Grand Prix’, and also in the ‘Belgian Grand Prix. He finished third in the Mexican event but clinched a well-deserved victory in the latter.

He also competed in the Formula One for the ‘Benetton Ford’ team, scoring a total of 53 points.

In 1994, Michael competed in the Formula One championship. During the period he participated in sixteen races and won nine out of it.

In 1995, he won the ‘Formula One’ championships for team ‘Benetton’. He won nine races as he finished in the previous season.

In 1996, the following year, Schumacher signed a contract with ‘Ferrari’, and remained with it for ten years. For this contract, he received 60 million dollars as remuneration and won the championship for the team on five occasions.

In 1996, he finished the competition with 59 points and he scored 78, 86, and 44 points in the next three years.

Michael won the ‘Formula One’ championship with 108 points in 2000. In the next four years, he won the races with points of 123, 144, 93, and 148.

He scored only 62 points in the ‘United States Grand Prix in 2005 and finished third. The following year, he struggled for a win at the ‘Monaco Grand Prix and got the fifth place. He also took part in the ‘Grand Prix’ held in Canada, Italy, and China and finished second in the season.

In 2010, Michael made a comeback after a brief retirement and this time raced for the ‘Mercedes’ team, with German racer Nico Rosberg.

Schumacher participated in the races held in Bahrain, Spain, Hungary, Europe, Turkey, Belgium, and Abu Dhabi and he scored only 72 points and finished ninth in the championship.

During the next two years, he did not perform up to the mark in the ‘Formula One’ championships and he finished eighth and thirteenth, respectively.

In the year 2012, after the ‘Brazilian Grand Prix’, Schumacher announced his retirement.

Michael Schumacher will be remembered as one of the sports personalities who fought against all the odds.

9. Sir Steve Redgrave

 Steven Geoffrey Redgrave is a rower and is one among the top sports personalities

Sir Steven Geoffrey Redgrave was born on 23 March 1962 in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK. The strong rower is one of the most remembered sports personalities in rowing.

He is a retired British rower. Firstly he is always remembered for his winning of gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games during the years 1984 – 2000.

Moreover, three Commonwealth Games gold medals and nine World Rowing Championships golds add glory to his accomplishments.

Redgrave won gold medals in five successive Olympic games and he is the only person who achieved this in an endurance sport. Subsequently, he became Britain’s greatest-ever Olympian and he is the most successful male rower in Olympic history.

The rower was honored with Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1987 and also promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997.

Steve was appointed a Knight Bachelor “for services to Rowing” in the 2001 New Year Honours. Then he received the honor from Queen Elizabeth II on 1 May 2001 in Buckingham Palace.

In 2001 he got the Thomas Keller Medal for Outstanding International Rowing Career from International Rowing Federation.

In 2002, Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Sporting Moments, voted his fifth Olympic gold as the greatest.

Above all, he was ranked number 36 among the 100 Greatest Britons in the poll conducted by BBC in 2002.

Most importantly, he got the honor of carrying the British flag on two occasions in the opening ceremony of the Olympic.

In 2006, he with Matt Pinsent opened The Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake. For instance, the facility provides training, medical and scientific facilities for the rowing squad.

In the 2010 University of St Andrews awarded him the degree of honors.

He got BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2011 for Life Time Achievement.

In 2013 the University of Edinburgh awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his outstanding sporting achievements and role as a sports ambassador.

Redgrave exhibited unbelievable feat in rowing and he will shine forever as an example for endurance among the sports personalities.

10.Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilovaone of the top sports personalities in Tennis.
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Martina Navratilova was born on October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She is remembered for her endurance and etched herself a name among the sports personalities.

Her mother was a gymnast and a good tennis player. It helped and inspired the young Martina and when she was 9, she started to learn from Czech champion George Parma.

Then Parma helped her to shape the game and most importantly laid the foundation for a brilliant tennis career.

In spite of being very young, at the age of 15, she won her first national-level championship in 1973.

When she was sixteen she won her very first singles title as a professional in Orlando, Florida.

Martina went on to win the national championship in her home country in 1973 and did it when she was at the age of 15.

To go beyond limitations, she defected to the US and subsequently debuted as a professional tennis player in 1975.

She reached the final of the Australian Open and the French Open but lost both the matches.

She beat Chris Evert Lloyd at her first Grand Slam tournament at Wimbledon in 1978 and also defended the title in the following year.

Martina emerged as a dominant player in the 1980s and she won the Australian Open title in 1981.

In 1992, she won both the French and Wimbledon titles and she won the titles with ease.

She won 18 grand slam singles, 31 doubles, and 10 Grand Slams in the mixed doubles category and she lost only six matches during 1982-1984

In Wimbledon, she played 12 singles finals and won 9 titles.

In 2003 Navratilova won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. She repeated the feat and won the U.S. Open also.

She was declared female athlete of the decade collectively by the Associated Press, National Sports Review and United Press International.

She won the Flo Hyman Award and it’s a prestigious award instituted by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

With her 9th Wimbledon championship, she surpassed Helen Wills Moody’s record.

In 1996, she won WTA’s David Gray for her contributions in Tennis.

Along with Betty Stove, and Billie Jean King, she was declared as the team of the year in 1977.

Martina won the Wimbledon championship in 1978-79 and went further to win the Australian Open championship in 1981.

She was in WTA Team of the Year yet again during 1981-89 along with Pam Shriver.

Women’s Sports Foundation declared her sportswoman of the year from 1982-1984.

She won six Wimbledon championships in a row during the period 1982 – 1987.

Among the top sports personalities, she is a real fighter and earned her place by perseverance and hard work.

You may also like to read about the lessons that sports teach us

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