Sports fans will always look up to the professionals. Reaching an elite level within the game demands some form of respect. Some athletes, however, extend to become true inspirations within their field.
It could be that they have achieved brilliance and set new milestones in their careers, which will be almost impossible to match. In other cases, it may be due to humanitarian reasons. However, they have risen to the top, here is a list of some of the most inspirational sports figures of all time.
While Tiger Woods’ life away from the golf course has been complex at times, there is no doubt that he has been the dominant force in this sport. Debates will continue as to whether Tiger is better than Jack Nicklaus, but we can be sure that Woods was the best player of the 21st century.
For long periods of time, no golfer could come close to Tiger when he was on his best form. Sportsbooks and New York sports betting apps
He referred to himself as ‘the greatest,’ and who could ever argue with the legendary Muhammad Ali? Those who grew up watching sport in the 1970s will never forget his titanic battles with the likes of Joe Frazier and George Foreman.
Ali was a genius in the ring, but he was an inspirational figure in everyday life, too. Famous for his draft resistance in the 1960s, the boxer went on to become a renowned humanitarian and peace advocate, and a regular donator to worthwhile causes.
In one famous incident, Muhammad Ali even talked a man down who was preparing to jump from a ledge. In short, he was a true, all-round inspiration.
Billie Jean King
Today’s female tennis players owe a great debt of gratitude to Billie Jean King. During her playing career, King fought tirelessly for equal pay between men and women tennis players. While there is work still to be done, her legacy is clear in the prize money available to both genders in the modern game.
She was also a fierce advocate for the rights of female and LGBTQ athletes and remains passionate about those causes. On the court, Billie Jean King was one of the greatest players of all time, claiming a staggering 39 Grand Slam titles.
He was undoubtedly one of the greatest ever basketball players in the history of the game, and his efforts on the court make Magic Johnson an inspirational figure. The Point Guard won five NBA Championships with the LA Lakers and set a number of NBA records along the way.
Johnson was at the top of his game when his career ground to a sudden halt in 1991. An AIDS diagnosis turned his world upside down and he was forced to focus on his health. Since then, Magic Johnson has been inspirational in many ways. He made an incredible return to the court for the Lakers and played a full part in their 1995/96 campaign.
Away from basketball, Johnson has worked tirelessly for AIDS awareness and provides help and inspiration for those battling against the disease.
Sir Alex Ferguson
While his career as a professional soccer player was a productive one, Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest achievements in the sport came much later. The Scot started his managerial career with East Stirling in 1974, before taking over at St Mirren and Aberdeen later on.
Success in Scotland persuaded Manchester United to appoint Ferguson as their boss in 1986, and it was at Old Trafford that he developed into the most inspirational soccer manager of all time.
Ferguson had a reputation for being a disciplinarian, but his approach was designed to get the best out of his players. It was a practice that worked, as his United team became the most dominant side in any era of top flight English football.
With Sir Alex at the helm, the Red Devils won no fewer than 38 major trophies including a record 13 Premier League titles. In terms of a coach providing inspiration for his team, Ferguson has no equal in any sport.
All of the names on this list seemed to transcend their sporting activities. Each of them left a legacy that saw new players take up their respective sports, thereby ensuring the future for golf, boxing, soccer and much more.
In some cases, these athletes have provided inspiration to those around them As coaches and mentors, they were the best in the business. In all cases, they have inspired youngsters to get involved with sport, and that is the most important legacy.