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  • The World's Most Famous Athlete

    A couple of months ago I read an article that speculated on who the world's most famous person was. This got me thinking about who the world's most famous athlete is (active or retired) might be. Tiger Woods is certainly a contender for the title, but he has the disadvantage of participating in a G-8 sport. Michael Phelps became a megastar en route to winning 8 gold medals, but he has the same problem that Tiger World has. Usain Bolt participates in a sport with appeal in third world countries, but he's been an international celebrity for a relatively short period of time. Then there's David Beckham and Ronaldo who are stars in the world's most popular sport, but are past their prime. And you also have to look at Yao Ming, who is from a nation with 1/5 of the world's population, but isn't among the top five in his sport. What about Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who are superstars in a sport which is arguably the world's fastest growing? Could it be a retired athlete like Muhammad Ali, Pele, Carl Lewis or Michael Jordan? Who do you think is most likely the world's most famous/recognizable athlete?
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    Pele
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    Muhammad Ali
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    David Beckham
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    Tiger Woods
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    Kobe Bryant
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  • #2
    Great question. The answer always used to be Ali, but probably no longer.

    I bet it might be Kobe or LeBron, given basketball popularity in China as well as the US, South America, and a lot of Europe. Football (soccer) players are enormously popular in Europe and South America but I think less so in China, and barely known in the US.

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    • #3
      Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

      Originally posted by jazzcyclist
      A couple of months ago I read an article that speculated on who the world's most famous person was. This got me thinking about who the world's most famous athlete is (active or retired) might be. Tiger Woods is certainly a contender for the title, but he has the disadvantage of participating in a G-8 sport. Michael Phelps became a megastar en route to winning 8 gold medals, but he has the same problem that Tiger World has. Usain Bolt participates in a sport with appeal in third world countries, but he's been an international celebrity for a relatively short period of time. Then there's David Beckham and Ronaldo who are stars in the world's most popular sport, but are past their prime. And you also have to look at Yao Ming, who is from a nation with 1/5 of the world's population, but isn't among the top five in his sport. What about Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, who are superstars in a sport which is arguably the world's fastest growing? Could it be a retired athlete like Muhammad Ali, Pele, Carl Lewis or Michael Jordan? Who do you think is most likely the world's most famous/recognizable athlete?
      Depends on how one measures popularity and what it is really based on. In terms of talent, achievement, Beckham is not even close to the top in soccer, leave alone all sports.

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      • #4
        If popularity is measured as "awareness", I'm guessing Ben Johnson would have been close 20 years ago. But then famous quickly became infamous...

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        • #5
          Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

          Originally posted by jazzcyclist
          Tiger Woods is certainly a contender for the title, but he has the disadvantage of participating in a G-8 sport
          you obviously haven't followed korean news

          think more g20+

          Michael Phelps became a megastar en route to winning 8 gold medals, but he has the same problem that Tiger World has
          eh ?

          oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, a rarity in the world ?

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          • #6
            Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

            Originally posted by eldrick
            Originally posted by jazzcyclist
            Tiger Woods is certainly a contender for the title, but he has the disadvantage of participating in a G-8 sport
            you obviously haven't followed korean news

            think more g20+

            Michael Phelps became a megastar en route to winning 8 gold medals, but he has the same problem that Tiger World has
            eh ?

            oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, a rarity in the world ?
            There are ~200 nations in the world. How popular is pro golf and elite swimming in the 180 nations outside of the G-20, compared to soccer, track & field and basketball? I've already excluded baseball players and American football players from contention.

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            • #7
              The world's sporting public is pretty fickle. It was Ali for a little while, but his political stances cost him. It was certainly Pele for a long while. It was Michael Jordan for a good while. Tiger Woods has been and probably will be again. And yes, David Beckham was the most popular athlete in the world for a while. And Ronaldo and Ronaldinho have had their time. As for right now, this moment, since there is no singularly dominant soccer player (a handful have their ardent proponents), and with Tiger back on the prowl, his Q-Rating is probably tops. For some reason Q-ratings seems to be a highly guarded secret. A quick google search didn't come up with any current numbers.

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              • #8
                Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

                Originally posted by jazzcyclist
                How popular is pro golf
                pretty damn popular in asia, but you are obviously clueless about this

                and elite swimming in the 180 nations outside of the G-20
                no

                you were talking about phelps in a supposedly g8 sport

                all it needs is a collection of water to participate

                g2 or g300, any member of each knows what the sport entails - if most of latter don't excel in it, that's their problem

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                • #9
                  Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

                  Originally posted by eldrick
                  Originally posted by jazzcyclist
                  How popular is pro golf
                  pretty damn popular in asia, but you are obviously clueless about this

                  and elite swimming in the 180 nations outside of the G-20
                  no

                  you were talking drivel about phelps in a supposedly g8 sport

                  all it needs is a collection of water to participate

                  g2 or g300, any member of each knows what the sport entails - if most of latter don't excel in it, that's there problem
                  G-8, G-20, why must you pretend that you don't know what I mean? Everybody knows that G-8 is just a euphemism for first world in this context. And the question that I posed was who was the world's most popular athlete, not who was Asia's. Eldrick, once again, I'm not interested in getting in a pissing contest with you. Isn't it possible for you to post without the personal attacks? :evil:

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                  • #10
                    Eldy, smile buddy,
                    If you want to swim with the sharks and the hippos, the snakes and the piranhas, etc., then go for it. The point is that unless you live in a country that can afford lots of swimming pools, then all the water in the World is not going to be particularly helpful or welcoming for a would-be swimmer.

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                    • #11
                      Most Famous

                      Most famous in the world means most famous in India and China. The rest of the world doesn't really matter. Among the choices given, that would make it Beckham or Pele. I'd guess Beckham. The others are little known in China's countryside.

                      Quick Silver
                      Hong Kong

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                      • #12
                        Re: The World's Most Famous Athlete

                        Originally posted by jazzcyclist
                        g2 or g300...
                        no idea what on earth your g rant is about, since next meet is taking place a dozen miles from me on the 2nd - might wander along for the spectacle

                        as for "asia's" most popular athlete, it astounds me about how ignorant you can be - you are clearly clueless about the continent or it's sporting interests - golf is hugely popular in korea, japan, thailand & is top sport of the middle class of india

                        i do not know where you flatter yourself to think about getting into a "pissing" context - pointing out nonsense posted about a sport like swimming is nothing more than stating the bare facts, not some unbelievable prejudice/chip on shoulder, about the sport

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                        • #13
                          You're pathetic Eldrick. :roll:

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                          • #14
                            stick to trying to offer unbiased, knowledgeable opinions on golf/swimming

                            if you can't, don't look a fool by trying to do so

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                            • #15
                              Jesse Owens. I'd lay odds if you did a poll with 1,000 great athletes he'd take top spot as somebody most people have heard of. Followed by Ali.

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