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Was Muhammad Ali The Most Colorful Athlete in Sports History?


By: Ken Hissner

This writer started searching all sports most colorful athletes and they stood out at other sporting events when they showed up. It’s no secret a boxing writer would think it was a boxer is it?

Baseball had the New York Yankee’s Babe Ruth the man who pointed to the right field area and put a homerun over the right field fence. Rickey Henderson stole 1,406 bases in the major leagues which was certainly one of the most exciting moves in baseball. Then there was “Charley Hustle” named Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial and Satchel Paige.

In football there was Joe Namath showing up in his fur coat after predicting a Super Bowl win. Deion Sanders was a two sport star as was Bo Jackson in football and baseball. Jim Thorpe and “Red” Grange the Galloping Ghost were among others.

The Jockeys are Eddie Arcaro, Willie Shoemaker and John R. Velazquez. In Weight Lifting Paul Anderson and Pirros Dimas In basketball there was Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, “Pistol” Pete Maravich, Bob Cousy, “Majic” Johnson, Michael Jordan, Julius “Doctor J” Irving, Kobie Bryant and Lebron James.

Tennis had Jimmy Connors, Billy Jean King and John McEnroe. In track and fields were Jesse Owens, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Carl Lewis, Richard Fosbury and Usain Bolt. In swimming there was Mark Spitz, Johnny Weismuller and Michael Phelps. In auto racing ?, in gymnastics Soviet’s Larisa Latynina, Nadia Comaneci, Olga Korbut and Mary Lou Retton. College Wrestling Dan Gable. In Pro Wrestling remember Gorgeous George, Ricky Starr, Haystack Calhoun, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Andre the Giant and Dwayne Johnson.

In Golf are Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sammy Snead, Tiger Woods and Lee Trevino. Auto racing A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Jordan, Mario Andretti and Cale Yarborough. In Ice hockey there wasWayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard and Bobby Hull.

In MMA Conor McGregor, Dana White, Frank Shamrock, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Royce Graci, B.J. Penn and Tito Ortiz. Others are Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Joe Lewis and Jackie Chan.

And in boxing Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, John L. Sullivan, Joe Louis, “Sugar” Ray Robinson, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, “Kid” Gavilan, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, Max Baer, “Two-Ton” Tony Galento, Benny Leonard, Archie Moore, Hector “Macho” Camacho and of course none other than the winner “Muhammad Ali” as the “Most Colorful Athlete of All Time!” I know I missed many but all mentioned were certainly some of the most colorful!

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