The greatest male athletes of all time

Throughout history, athletes have positively influenced children, younger athletes and altered the media’s perception on how sports are viewed. 

The Jambar has curated a top-five list of the greatest male athletes of all time. Rankings are based on how well athletes fought against adversity, their impact on the respective sport and overall change to the sports landscape.

Starting the list at No. 5, Professional Bowlers Association hall of famer Pete Weber not only changed the bowling landscape, but grabbed the attention of several media publications.

Weber joined the PBA in 1979. Since his arrival, he accumulated over 50 titles between the PBA Tour and the PBA50 tour. In total, Weber has amassed 107 total titles and holds the record for five wins at the Bowling United States Open.

Weber retired in 2021. After bowling his last frame, Weber was interviewed by FloBowling and he uttered a quote that still resonates with sports fans. 

“Love me or hate me, you watched, and that’s all you could do,” Weber said. 

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shocked the world, placing him on the list at No. 4. 

The 11-time world champion currently holds the world records in the 100 meter at 9.58 seconds and 200 meter at 19.19 seconds, both of which were set at the 2009 Berlin World Athletics Championships.

Highly regarded as “the fastest man alive” by several publications, Bolt has utilized his quickness to acquire eight Olympic gold medals. 

With the 199th overall pick in the 2000 National Football League Draft, the New England Patriots selected quarterback Tom Brady. The Jambar regards Brady as the third greatest male athlete of all time. 

For 23 seasons, Brady racked up seven Super Bowl wins, five Super Bowl MVPs, three NFL MVPs and was named two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2010.

Proving he was a starter, Brady appeared in 10 Super Bowls and led the 2007 Patriots to an undefeated regular season.

Nicknamed “The Great One,” professional ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky became the face of the National Hockey League. Gretzky skates his way to No. 2 on the list. 

Gretzky sits as the NHLs leading goal scorer with 894, assist leader with 1,963 and career points leader with 2,857. 

After Gretzky was traded in 1978 to the Edmonton Oilers, he led the team to four Stanley Cup championships. In 1988, Gretzky was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings and is credited with the popularization of hockey in California. 

In 1999 Gretzky retired and was immediately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The start of the 90s ushered in a landscape of success for the Chicago Bulls with the third pick in the 1984 National Basketball Association Draft, Michael Jordan. The Jambar drafts Jordan at the No. 1 spot. 

From 1991 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, Jordan led the Bulls to six NBA championships and earned six NBA Finals MVPs. 

Jordan not only popularized basketball, but he helped Nike become a popular shoe manufacturer with the introduction of the Air Jordan sneaker line. In 1985, Nike released Air Jordans and earned $126 million in one year. 

Although new athletes are always in the conversation as “the greatest of all time,” the athletes on this list have paved the way for generations to come.