- Fans have voted on the most entertaining athletes of all time, with Muhammed Ali securing the top spot. His ability to captivate audiences both inside and outside of the boxing ring makes him a true legend.
- Other notable athletes on the list include Michael Jordan, Ronaldinho, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps, who have all left a lasting impact on their respective sports with their exceptional performances and charismatic personalities.
- Surprisingly, Lionel Messi ranks 17th on the list, raising some eyebrows among fans who believe he should have been higher. Despite this, Messi’s undeniable talent and unforgettable moments on the football field solidify his status as one of the greatest players of all time.
It’s time to celebrate the true entertainers of the sporting world. Whether it be the thrill of a knockout punch, the flair of a dribbling magician, or the sheer power of an Olympian, there are those who put on a spectacle no matter what the occasion.
Fans have been voting on who they believe are the most entertaining athletes of all time over on TheTopTens, with the list full of superstars from all kinds of sporting backgrounds.
Let’s take a look at who the fans voted as the top 17 athletes in this list, with some unexpected inclusions along the way which are sure to get people talking!
To many, this man is seen as the greatest footballer to ever play the game, but finds himself only 17th in the list of entertainers! This will shock many as Lionel Messi has graced us with some unbelievable moments over a career spanning two decades. After the World Cup final in Qatar last December, surely the Argentine magician deserves to be higher up this list?
The late great Kobe “Bean” Bryant comes next in this list, with fans in agreement that this man deserves to be spoken about as a true entertainer. A pioneer of the game, Bryant was drafted back in 1998 and went on to play 20 seasons in the famous gold and purple of the LA Lakers, where he won five championship titles. Kobe was a warrior, a fierce competitor, and played the game with his heart on his sleeve. He inspired a generation and his legacy will live on forever. You only have to watch the 1997 Slam Dunk contest to see how Kobe announced his name to the world!
Another NBA legend makes the list, this time in the form of “Dr J” Julius Erving. The Hall of Famer spent the best part of 16 years thrilling fans with electric playing style and incredible athleticism. The former Philadelphia 76ers small-forward is credited as being the first player to dunk a ball from the free-throw line, which can be seen when he shocked the crowd at the 1976 Slam Dunk Contest. Erving now has his jersey number hanging in the rafters of Philly’s arena as a sign of his icon status.
Deion Sanders was pure entertainment, and had the ability to go with it. Sanders is a NFL Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion, who is known for his cultural influence on the game. Nicknamed “Prime Time”, Sanders was a pioneer of end zone dance celebrations, with fans knowing they would get something special every time. Performing in one major sport wasn’t enough, however, for Sanders, as he then took on baseball and the MLB. Sanders now coaches at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is known to bring out some of his entertaining antics on the sidelines.
MLB Hall of Fame member Rickey Henderson was part of two World Series winning teams and named an All-Star 10 times in his illustrious baseball career. Famously in 1991 he broke the record for most stolen bases, and described himself as the “greatest of all time” in a post-game speech. Some saw this as arrogant, but it showed Henderson for the elite entertainer he was.
12Ken Griffey Jr
Another baseball icon makes this list, with fans clearly in agreement that this sport has provided some hugely entertaining athletes throughout the years, with Ken Griffey Jr being one of the most iconic. Griffey Jr sits seventh in the list of most home runs of all time, with fans on the edge of their seats every time he was up to bat. His influence outside of the game was huge too as his deals with companies like Nike made him a household name.
Just missing out on the top 10 in this fan vote is Dominik Hašek, a former NHL star whose career spanned over 30 years! Playing from 1980-2011, Hašek won two Stanley Cups as a goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings. Nicknamed “The Destroyer”, Hašek is credited for being one of the best goaltenders of all time, and helping grow the game in Europe with his elite performances on the ice over many years.
Fans may have expected this name to be close to the top of the list, but just making the top 10 is Mike Tyson. Someone that doesn’t need much of an introduction. Tyson burst onto the scene as a teenage boxing sensation, with his stardom really confirmed when he became WBC heavyweight champion in 1986. At 20 years old, he became the youngest heavyweight champion in history. His career has left a lasting legacy, with the 57-year-old still just as influential in pop culture today as he was at 20. A living legend is an understatement.
The first UFC fighter making the list, and it seems fans believe his entertainment value is even higher than Mike Tyson! Conor McGregor just oozes entertainment every time he steps into the Octagon. Whether you agree with his antics and character away from the sport is another question, but as a fighter you cannot deny his abilities. McGregor is a massive reason for the incredible growth of the UFC in the last 5-10 years, with the Irishman continuing to bring new eyes to the sport, even when he’s not fighting.
Ask anyone in the world of tennis about this man, and they will only have good things to say. Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has won 20 Grand Slam titles in his career, while being the spearhead of a golden generation for the sport alongside Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The battles between these three have been epic over the years, with Federer always remaining the fan favourite. His influence on the game is unmatched and his legacy will always remain.
This icon of American sports has a rather impressive record against his name, by being the only athlete in sports history to be named an All-Star in two different North-American sports. Bo Jackson conquered the elite levels of the NFL and MLB, not to mention becoming an influence away from the sport too, with his “Bo Knows” campaign with Nike making him a household name.
Ice hockey’s most famous name, Wayne Gretzky is a four-time Stanley Cup champion who played from 1978-1999. Often compared to Michael Jordan in terms of his influence on his sport, Gretzky put the game of ice hockey firmly back in the public interest. His charisma and playing ability went hand in hand, with fans still regarding him today as the greatest hockey player of all time.
Fans may not have expected a swimmer to be so high up this list, but it shows the legacy this man carries. Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with a staggering 28 medals, with 23 of them being gold. A machine in the water, Phelps was another who had the world watching no matter your interest in the sport. It’s impossible not to be entertained and motivated when watching the American compete, with his medal tally speaking for itself.
The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will go down as one of the most entertaining sporting events of the 21st century. A large part of that is down to one man, Usain Bolt. His electrifying performances on the track for Jamaica quite literally had the whole world in awe. The WR time set in the 100m sprint of 9.69 seconds is a moment that nobody will forget. Athletics is crying out for another entertainer on the level of Bolt, but we may not see one like him ever again.
If any footballer was going to finish higher than Lionel Messi in this list, it had to be this man. Ronaldinho is pure magic. He created a brand of football that didn’t really exist before him. Again this is an example of the power of entertainment, with the Brazilian creating a huge culture shift in the world of sport. Every time he picked up the ball, you had no idea what was about to happen next. That is a trait that is a dying art these days, which is why so many fans have fond memories of Ronaldinho. The iconic Barcelona kit with the gold Nike is a picture ingrained in the minds of many sports fans.
Drafted back in 1984 to the Chicago Bulls, who would have seen the power shift this man was going to create in the world of sport. Michael Jordan went on to win six NBA titles in Chicago, becoming an icon both on and off the court. His will to win and dedication to the game had the world enamored, and his ability to come up big in the pressure moments was incredible to see. Fans only need to see his last shot as a Bulls player in the 1998 NBA finals to highlight this man’s greatness. Without the influence that Jordan was, the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James may have never picked up the game of basketball.
Was it ever in doubt that this man would be at the top of the list? The epitome of entertainment, Muhammed Ali is one of the few athletes that transcended the world of sport. Whether it be boxing superfans or those with zero sporting interest, when Ali was fighting, the world was watching. It is no surprise the fans voted Ali top of this list, with his memorable moments too long to fit in one page. 1971’s “Fight of the Century” against Joe Frazier and 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman are a must-watch for younger fans that want to see the incredible entertainer at his peak. Ali leaves a legacy like no other, there will never be another Ali and generations to come will remember him as the greatest entertainer in sporting history.