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Anno Draconis
18.01.2007, 20:01
Who would you say is the greatest sportman/woman ever? And why? How would you even decide something like this?! Discuss.....;)

Here's a few to kick off:

Martina Navratilova: In an era when we get giddy if a brit gets to the 2nd week of Wimbledon, we forget that Martina has won TWENTY titles there, including the women's singles an astonishing 9 times. She has won 18 grand slam singles titles and an astonishing 41 grand slam doubles titles. That's proper tournaments like the US Open, not the Pontefract Invitational that we get excited about brits winning. Her 59th grand slam win came only last year when, at the age of 50, she won the US Open Mixed Doubles with Bob Bryan. She is only the 3rd woman in history to have won the "boxed set" - singles, womens doubles and mixed doubles at every grand slam. Awesome.

Ed Moses: An American 400m hurdler, whose first international event was the 1976 olympics, which he won in a world record time. The following year, having broken his own world record he lost four consecutive races, and vowed not to repeat the experience. He didn't, for nearly 10 years. From August 1977 to June 1987 Ed Moses won 122 consecutive races. He lost one race in June 87 and then won the next 10, finally retiring after getting a "mere" bronze at the Seoul olympics. In that 10 years he broke the world record on 2 more occasions, won 3 world cup titles, 2 world championships, olympic gold in LA and would almost certainly have won gold in Moscow but for the US boycott.

Any more?

AndyCat
18.01.2007, 20:09
Tiger Woods - and plenty left yet, he's still not reached his best.

iggmeister
18.01.2007, 21:12
http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/boxing/6267397.stm

He told us he was the greatest! I need say no more.

Igg

Anno Draconis
18.01.2007, 22:26
So why is Ali often regarded as "The Greatest"? Was he really a better technical, pound-for-pound boxer than Foreman, or Sugar Ray Robinson, or even Marciano? After all, Marciano retired undefeated, Ali didn't. There's also arguably a case to be made for Chavez or Roy Jones Jr. Is it Ali's charisma that makes him the best? I never saw him fight so this is a genuine question?

The 2 examples I gave were simply two people at the very, very top of their sport for a sustained period. There's more to Ali than that; is that what it takes to be the greatest?

TheMusicMan
18.01.2007, 23:00
Very, very difficult question Andy. In fact, I am not sure I can answer that - there are so many great sportsmen, sportswomen and teams out there each with their very own unique set of accomplishments, achievements and talents.

Redgrave, Torville & Dean, Seb Coe, Ali, Jahangir Khan, Kano, Borg (Star Trek... errrm.. sorry.. Bjorn), Steve Davies, Pelé, Spitz, Daley T., Nadia Kominec - there are so many excellent calibre sportsmen that to choose just one who shines above the rest would be an insult to the others. Personally I don't believe it can be done - it is simply too subjective.

Interesting discussion base though, looking forward to seeing who people nominate. Maybe we could at some point turn this into a poll?

brassneck
18.01.2007, 23:26
It's a difficult one to answer as we don't tend to know much about sports other than what is in the media. Ali was voted recently as the greatest sportsperson and Tiger Woods in future times may assume that title but Michael Schumacher has broken virtually every record in F1 and must be a serious candidate.

Jan H
18.01.2007, 23:34
Eddy Merckx (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddy_Merckx) - no question about it.

Maestro
19.01.2007, 07:41
What about the chap that won the world championship on both 2 and 4 wheels? was if Fangio?

Then there was the boxer who won world titles at, I think, 4 different weights, was that Duran?

Sorry for the vagueness, but it is early and I have just finished marking 2 sets of yr 9 work :oops: :oops:

Pythagoras
19.01.2007, 08:38
Redgrave has got to be up there. An awesome achievement.
Michael Johnson? World records at 200 and 400 that nobody has got close to.

Maestro
19.01.2007, 08:43
Jesse Owens

Darth_Tuba
19.01.2007, 09:01
I'll go along with Tiger Woods. Not just on his trophys (in what is one of the most unpredictable sports around) and his natural ability, but mainly on the fact that he has opened up his sport to a whole new audience. Not only has he made himself a fortune but he's probably increased the earnings of everyone in proffessional golf one way or another. Like Andy said, his isn't even halfway finished yet. And I don't even particularly like golf! :-?

WoodenFlugel
19.01.2007, 09:19
John Surtees won the F1 World Championship and the 500cc Motorcycle World Chapionship. IIRC he's the only person to do this.

This is probably nigh on impossible to sort out once and for all, but it's a great topic for conversation though.

In terms of pure perfromances you'd have to put Schumacher up there, whether you would call him a sportsman in the truest sense is open to opinion though (and that could be as subjective a debate as this one will be!!). Moving over to the muddier side of motorsport, Seb Loeb looks pretty unbeatable, and if he continues driving as he currently is, in a few years time he should almost certainly match Schumachers' achievements. You'd also have to shout out to Rossi as he has totally dominated MotoGP, and is capable of showing a lot of speed on four wheels too. The first person to win bike GP and WRC World Championships? Others? Fangio? Agostini? Doohan? - who nearly lost his leg but still recovered to win multiple World Championships. But motorsprot is littered with names of people who should've been great, but their career was sadly cut short: Gilles Villeneuve, Henri Toivenen, even Senna.

Other sports? Well its funny how, whenever someone asks this question Ali's name is often the first thing most people say. Maybe it's because he used the "greatest" tag so often it became synonimous with him? You could also include:

Football: Pele? Eusabio?
Golf: Woods, Nicklaus
Rugby union? Interesting...Martin Johnson? David Campese? Zinzan Brooke?
Tennis: Borg? McEnroe?


In short I don't know, but I'm looking forward to seeing who gets a shout on here and agreeing / arguing with the choices!

Will the Sec
19.01.2007, 10:27
Bradman. I think it would be difficult to show that play by play anyone in any other sport has been so far ahead of everybody else.

johnmartin
19.01.2007, 10:51
Woods, Nicklaus or Ali. I wouldn't like to have to pick a winner from that trio.

brasscrest
19.01.2007, 10:53
For a single sport, Wayne Gretzky, especially for offense - his all-time scoring record is literally double that of the nearest competitor.

For all-around athletics, Jim Thorpe. Starred in both American football and baseball (which require very different skills) and won an Olympic decathalon.

Anno Draconis
19.01.2007, 10:58
Redgrave, Torville & Dean, Seb Coe, Ali, Jahangir Khan, Kano, Borg (Star Trek... errrm.. sorry.. Bjorn), Steve Davies, Pelé, Spitz, Daley T., Nadia Kominec - there are so many excellent calibre sportsmen that to choose just one who shines above the rest would be an insult to the others. Personally I don't believe it can be done - it is simply too subjective.

Interesting discussion base though, looking forward to seeing who people nominate. Maybe we could at some point turn this into a poll?

Having had no clue who Jahangir Khan is, I Googled him and found his Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jahangir_Khan):

Jahangir Khan (born December 10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_10), 1963 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1963), sometimes spelled "Jehangir Khan") is a former World No. 1 professional squash (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_%28sport%29) player from Pakistan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan), who is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the game. During his career he won the World Open (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Open) six times and the British Open (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Open_Squash_Championships) a record ten times. Between 1981 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981) and 1986 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986), he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sport.

This is precisely what I was hoping for - people who are not usually mentioned in TV polls, but who have been consistently at the pinnacle of achievement. I know everyone automatically thinks of Ali but is that because of his high media profile?

What about Alfredo di Stefano? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfredo_Di_Stefano)- Real Madrid player who won 5 consecutive European Cups with the great 1950s side and until recently held the European Champions Cup/Champions League scoring record and was only surpassed because the top clubs now play far more games to win the Champions League.

I'd tend to agree that a definitive answer on this topic is impossible, but I'd love to hear opinions.

iggmeister
19.01.2007, 11:00
So why is Ali often regarded as "The Greatest"? Was he really a better technical, pound-for-pound boxer than Foreman, or Sugar Ray Robinson, or even Marciano? After all, Marciano retired undefeated, Ali didn't. There's also arguably a case to be made for Chavez or Roy Jones Jr. Is it Ali's charisma that makes him the best? I never saw him fight so this is a genuine question?

The 2 examples I gave were simply two people at the very, very top of their sport for a sustained period. There's more to Ali than that; is that what it takes to be the greatest?

It is difficult to say why he is the greatest although by the words you used, his name immediately springs to mind, even if only because he did say he was the greatest.

I am not really a boxing fan. Its a bit like a car crash - you know you shouldn't look but sometimes you cant help looking. Personally, if you want to be involved in a sport which involves beating each other up then you must be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

However, they are great sportsmen. They train as if its their religion and show great dedication. At the time of the Rumble in the Jungle et al, Ali was watched by millions at a time when there were not so many people who had access to a TV. In today's society I understand the equivalent viewing figures would be much higher than those that our current best achieve. My Dad said that my Grandad detested boxing but would always watch and listen to what Ali had to say - he had that effect upon people who had no interest in his sport. Just like Tiger does now with golf, he made people take an interest in what he was doing.

Perhaps some will say he was just the greatest sports personality, but that is part of being the greatest sportsman. there are so many automatons out there today. We need characters. Tiger is a great sportsman, but not that entertaining (its his focus and determination that draws me to watch him, as it is inspiring). People like Phil Tufnell, Ally McCoist, Frankie Detori have great personalities and (with the exception of Detori) were hardly at the top of their profession.

Ali beat the best. I am not a boxing expert, but am told by my friends who are very much into boxing that Ali fought some of the best fighters of all time and beat them. At his best, he was the greatest and beat others who, but for the fact that Ali beat them, could also have claimed to be the greatest. In that sense the likes of Borg must be up there as he competed against some of the greatest ever peers in his chosen sport.

Igg

jmb83
19.01.2007, 11:35
In motorsports Valentino Rossi has got to be up there pretty high too.
Has won 7 world championships in GP motorcyles. 1 in 125cc 1 in 250cc and 5 in MOTOGP (1000cc). Each time he moved up through the catagories it took just one year to get settled and he won in the second.

One four wheels there's obviously the legend that is Michael Schumacher.
Like him or loathe him, he was without doubt the greatest during his time.
He did a few dubious moves, but then so did everyone else. Aus '94, Jerez '97 and 'parking gate' Monaco last year are the only truely illegal moves he made. Yet Senna drove Prost off the track 2 years running in Japan 90/91 to settle the championship and everyone thought it was fair?!!?!!??!!??!!!

Then there's greats like Fangio. Gilles Villeneuve and Stirling Moss were probably the greatest drivers never to be Formula One world champions.

johnmartin
19.01.2007, 14:12
My favourite Ali quote:- "I'm so fast that last night when I went to bed I switched off the light and was in bed before it got dark"

TheMusicMan
19.01.2007, 14:56
Having had no clue who Jahangir Khan is, I Googled him and found his Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jahangir_Khan):

Jahangir Khan (born December 10 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/December_10), 1963 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1963), sometimes spelled "Jehangir Khan") is a former World No. 1 professional squash (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_%28sport%29) player from Pakistan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan), who is considered by many to be the greatest player in the history of the game. During his career he won the World Open (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Open) six times and the British Open (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Open_Squash_Championships) a record ten times. Between 1981 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981) and 1986 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986), he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sport.

This is precisely what I was hoping for - people who are not usually mentioned in TV polls, but who have been consistently at the pinnacle of achievement. I know everyone automatically thinks of Ali but is that because of his high media profile?


1 guess which is the sport I play then Andy...?

Anno Draconis
19.01.2007, 18:18
1 guess which is the sport I play then Andy...?

No offence, John, but you must be mad. I've steered clear of squash ever since one of my maths teachers at school lost an eye playing it.:eek:

Now badminton, there's a game for a gentleman. And sometimes they let me play it as well ;)

A slightly controversial nomination - Stephen Hendry. I've never forgiven him for winning something like 9 consecutive frames to take the World title from Jimmy White, but you've got to admit he was an awesome player in his prime. Plus now he's having another go, not something many players manage to do having fallen as far down the rankings as he did. But the question about Ali applies in reverse here - does his perceived lack of charisma affect how people remember his sporting achievement?

[Do you even think snooker players should be included? What about the darts-playing "athletes" of the oche?]

2nd man down
19.01.2007, 19:48
Good god how do you sort this one out??

For me, the list of "the best" would be

Mohammad Ali, like said before, beat all the others at the time who all stood a chance of laying claim to the same boast.

McGuigan, just for pure excitement during his fights, I remember being just gripped by every one.

Edson Arantes Do Nascimento (Pele), Eusebio Ferreira Da Silva, Johan Cruijff, Denis Bergkamp, No words needed, just Wow.

George Best, what balance and awareness of the game, and sublime skill.

Borg, dominated a sport that at the time boasted the best players that sport has seen.

and for the gridiron fans amongs us, Joe Montana, arguably the best ever quarterback, particularly cool under pressure (Hence the Joe cool or "Big Sky" nicknames), racking up numerous passing and scrambling records during his career with the San Francisco 49ers, and winning 4 superbowl rings along the way, with 2 superbowl MVP's thrown in for good measure.

Will the Sec
19.01.2007, 20:02
1 guess which is the sport I play then Andy...?

tMP user coddling?

Anno Draconis
19.01.2007, 20:49
Hermann Maier ("The Hermannator): initially rejected by Austrian ski coaches, and destined like many Austrians to spend the winter as a ski instructor and the summer labouring. Having won a load of local ski competitions he finally came to the attention of the national team in 1996; a year later he won his first world cup race and in 1998 he won double winter olympic gold at Nagano (with a sprained knee), the Super-G world cup and the overall world cup. He went on to win the overall world cup titles in 2000 and 2001 before his career, and his life, was almost ended in an horrific motorbike crash in which he almost lost his leg. He needed massive reconstructive surgery and everyone assumed his career was over. Everyone but Maier. Two years later he returned to the slopes and within a fortnight was back to winning. In his first full season back (2003-4) he won the super-G and overall world cup for the 4th time. In October 2005 he won his 51st world cup race, making him the 2nd most successful world cup racer of all time. He's still going.....

Possibly the greatest sporting comeback of all time.....

Will the Sec
04.02.2007, 20:06
Some nice nominations here, but still no-one who outdoes The Don.

"In The Best of the Best, statistician Charles Davis argues that Bradman's performance is the most dominant of any player of any major sport. He calculates the number of standard deviations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation) above the mean that several prominent individual sporting statistics lie. The top performers in various sports are:
Athlete /Sport /Statistic /Standard /deviations /Probability Against (1/x)
Bradman Cricket (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricket) Batting average 4.4 184,000
Pelé (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pel%C3%A9) Football (Soccer) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_%28Soccer%29) Goals per game 3.7 9,300
Ty Cobb (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ty_Cobb) Baseball (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball) Batting average 3.6 6,300
Jack Nicklaus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Nicklaus) Golf (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golf) Major titles 3.5 4,300
Michael Jordan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jordan) Basketball (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basketball) Points per game 3.4 3,000"

Quoted in Wiki, the Don Bradman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradman)page.

Beat that...

andyp
04.02.2007, 21:15
I'd go for Bradman too, just so far ahead of his peers.

I think it depends if you can compare sports that easily, every one is a different kind of challenge.

My second would probably be Lance Armstrong. I watched him in his last Tour (his 7th or 8th win?) on his final time trial. All uphill, they set off a minute apart, and he passed the two guys in front of him (who were the second and third placed guys, not exactly muppets) before the end. Amazing.
Oh, and he'd recovered from leukaemia the year before iirc........