Most Iconic Athletes in History

James Mayhew

3rd, April 2019


Most Iconic Athletes in History

In history, we’ve come across some of the most iconic athletes around. These professional athletes have their own struggle and success stories that will inspire and motivate their fans. If you want to know more about them, our list will expound these iconic athletes’ accomplishments and how their winnings made an impact in our world.

Muhammad Ali

Who can forget his famous line “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”  Muhammad Ali is a boxing legend and many call him as “The Greatest”.  He won almost every title every boxer can have and has defeated almost every boxer during his time. This made him an inspiring legend.  He became famous around the world for becoming the heavyweight champion three times. Aside from his commendable victories inside the ring, he was also victorious in inspiring all his fans around the world. His three memorable boxing victories are:

February 25, 1964: He knocked out Sonny Liston, wherein Ali became the heavyweight champion.

January 28, 1975: Ali won over Joe Frazier

October 30, 1975: This game was another chance for Ali to reclaim the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He won over George Foreman. The fight was known as “Rumble in the Jungle” because it was held at Zaire.

February 15, 1980: Ali lost the game with Leon Spinks in a split decision.

September 15, 18980: Rematch with Leon Spinks held in New Orleans wherein Ali won and gains the heavyweight title back.

Muhammad Ali also became the symbol of strength in Islam; his conversion was controversial because it was opposed by his family and society. Despite the disagreement, he stood by his faith and embraced his new religion.  He was previously known as Cassius Clay and changed his name to Muhammad Ali because if his conversion.

On April 28, 1967, Muhammad was asked to join the army. At that time, there was an ongoing war between the United States and Vietnam. Ali refused the Army induction because it was against his faith; he was immediately stripped of his title. Because of his refusal to join the army, he was convicted of draft evasion and he served five years in prison.

In 1984, his longest round started. Ali began his battle with Parkinson’s disease. The disease took Ali’s strength, his arms were shaking and his speech began to slur. Despite his condition, he was determined to join the 1996 Olympic Games and he inspired many people. Ali’s fight ended in 2016 due to septic shock. He died at the age of 74.

Michael Phelps

Michael Fred Phelps was from Baltimore Maryland, he was born on June 30, 1985. At the age of 28, he holds the record for the most Olympic medals won. He won 23 Olympic gold medals and 13 individual gold medals.

Michael Phelps was the youngest of three siblings. He grew up surrounded by people who inspired him to be an athlete. Fred, his father, was an all-around athlete. Her mom was a middle school principal, and her two older sisters were a part of a local swim team.

Phelps was inspired by her two older sisters, and, so, he started swimming. In 1996, her sister, Whitney tried out for the US Olympic team, but an injury that caused her to discontinue her career. Michael at the age of 7, decided to continue what his sister had started.  He mastered his first stroke- backstroke because he was scared to put his head underwater; to get him used to the water, his instructors asked him to float around on his back.

His swimming career was inspired by Tom Malchow and Tom Dolan. Phelps saw them compete at the 1996S Summer Games in Atlanta. He saw them win, and, since then, Phelps dreamt of becoming a champion.  He started training at the Loyola High School pool, but he met Coach Bob Bowman when he started to train at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club at the Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center.

Coach Bob Bowman saw Phelps talent and determination, so they began his intense training. Phelps made it to the US National B Team by 1999.

In 2000, he was 15 when he made his first Olympic appearance. He joined the Sydney Games and was the youngest male singer to win a gold medal. Phelps worked hard to make his dream come true. There were unfortunate circumstances in the middle of his career, but that did not stop him from chasing his dreams.  He continued to win gold medals as his career progressed.

Phelps retired in 2016; he said that he has put swimming into his mind for 24 years, and he is now happy with what he achieved. His retirement will allow him to spend more time with his family.

After his retirement, Phelps continued to inspire people by publishing two books he personally wrote – Beneath the Surface: My Story (2008) and No Limits: The Will to Succeed (2009). He is also a co-founder of a non-profit organization called Swim with the Stars, a swimming camp for all ages.

In January 2018, many were surprised when he opened up about his battle with depression; he courageously accepted that it is okay not to be okay and he immediately asked for medical help.


Football is one of the most loved sports today, and that is why, according to the website, there is a lot of online betting website available.  Especially football betting is getting more and more popular thanks to the comfortable way of betting on football games without watching them in the stadium. On the second note, football is where out third most iconic athlete belongs. He is no other than Pelé.

Pelé ‘s real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento. He was born on October 23, 1940. His parents named him after the American inventor Thomas Edison. During his childhood, he was called Pelé after mispronouncing “Bile”-the name of a goalkeeper.  He complained about the nickname, but he eventually got used to it.

Growing up, his childhood was full of fun memories, but, because of poverty, he had to find ways to practice football. His father taught him how to play football; because they cannot afford to buy a ball, he stuffed a sock with newspaper as an alternative. After playing football, he works as a waiter in a tea shop.

In his early age, the increase in his speed of reactions was improved while he played in indoor leagues. At the age of 15, he was signed by Santos FC. Being the top scorer in the Brazilian league, at the age of 16, he received a call and he was asked to play for the nationals.  Pelé was declared a national treasure as a preventive measure from being bought by foreign clubs.

Pelé’s greatest win was the Brazilian victory in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Brazil won against Italy, having the final score of 4-1. This game was known as the greatest game in the history of football. Pelé continued to be the pride of Brazil and scored over 1,000 goals.

Pelé signed for New York Cosmos and played three seasons in 1975. He ended his career with the team in 1977.

After his retirement, he became a great football ambassador. In 1992, UNESCO appointed Pelé as a goodwill ambassador. On that same year, UN-appointed Pelé as the UN ambassador for ecology and the environment. He was a gifted football player, and, during his time, he used his fame for goodwill.


These greatest players were not just good at what they do, but they’re also great at inspiring people. Their stories tell us that if we focus and work hard for what we dream of, nothing is impossible. Although their stories are not perfect and they have their setbacks, they’re definitely deemed as some of the most motivational people around.