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SPORTSCLOPEDIA 17: FOUR GREATEST SPORTSMEN - MOUNT RUSHMORE OF SPORTS


PhilBoxing.com




Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, United States features the 60-foot-tall monument of heads of four United States Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively. The phrase “Mount Rushmore” also serves as slang for the top four figures in any particular category like players, musicians, etc.

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In the field of sports, we choose four great sportsmen who are legends themselves in their respective fields and further enhanced their legacies through the unforgettable achievements and memorable activities they have made even long after retirement from active plays.

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They are Muhammad Ali for boxing, Pelé for soccer football, Babe Ruth for baseball and Michael Jordan for basketball.

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Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., was an American professional boxer. He was called "The Greatest", and is considered as one of the biggest sports icon of the 20th century. He is highly regarded as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. In 1999, he was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated and the Sports Personality of the Century by the BBC.

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Ali is the only three-time lineal heavyweight champion. He is the only boxer to be awarded The Ring magazine Fighter of the Year six times, and fought in more Ring "Fight of the Year" matches than any other fighter. He was one of only three boxers to be named "Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated.

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Ali was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in its inaugural year and won over seven other Hall of Fame inductees when he fought them in the era called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. The Associated Press ranked him as the second best boxer and best heavyweight of the 20th century. His joint records of beating 21 boxers for the world heavyweight title and winning 14 unified title bouts was unbroken for 35 years.

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When Ali retired from boxing, he concentrated his works on religion, philanthropy and activism. He was a recognizable world public figure. He received the Martin Luther King Memorial Award, Presidential Citizens Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, Otto Hahn Peace Medal, and enshrined in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known by his nickname Pelé, was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time and called "the greatest" by FIFA, he was among the most successful and popular sports personalities of the 20th century. In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

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In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and together with Diego Maradona, he was a joint winner of the FIFA Player of the Century. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which includes friendly games, is recognized as a Guinness World Record.

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Pelé was FIFA World Cup Champion in 1958, 1962, 1970, FIFA World Cup Best Young Player, FIFA World Cup Silver Ball, Intercontinental Cup Top Scorer, BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, FIFA World Cup Golden Ball (Best Player), South American Footballer of the Year, North American Soccer League (NASL) All-Star team, NASL Top Assist Provider, and NASL Most Valuable Player.

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His Number 10 was retired by the New York Cosmos. He was elected Citizen of the World, by the United Nations, International Peace Award, inducted into the American National Soccer Hall of Fame, elected Goodwill Ambassador, by UNESCO, and winner of France Football's World Cup Top-100, World Team of the 20th Century,
Football Player of the Century elected by France, and TIME: One of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century.

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Pelé was also chosen Greatest Player of the 20th Century, by World Soccer, Athlete of the Century, by Reuters News Agency, Athlete of the Century, elected by International Olympic Committee, World Player of the Century, by the IFFHS, South American player of the century by the IFFHS, FIFA Player of the Century, FIFA Centennial Award, FIFA 100 Greatest Living Footballers, BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

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He was elected best Brazilian player of the century by the IFFHS, given FIFA Presidential Award, chosen as Greatest football player to have ever played the game by Golden Foot, and World Soccer Greatest XI of All Time, Legends of Football.

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In 1994, Pelé was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In 1995, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso appointed Pelé to the position of extraordinary minister for sport.

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George Herman "Babe" Ruth Jr. was an American professional baseball player whose magnificent career in Major League Baseball (MLB) covered 22 seasons, from 1914 to 1935. Nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as an excellent left-handed pitcher of the Boston Red Sox, but became more famous as the slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees.

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Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American setting and is considered by many experts as the greatest baseball player of all time. In 1936, Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its "first five" inaugural members.

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In several surveys, Ruth was named the greatest baseball player of all time. The Sporting News ranked him number one on the list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players". Baseball fans named Ruth to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. During the 100th anniversary of professional baseball in 1969, he was named baseball's Greatest Player Ever in a ballot.

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The Associated Press in 1993 reported that Muhammad Ali tied with Babe Ruth as the most recognized athlete in America. In a 1999 ESPN survey, he was voted as the second greatest American athlete of the century, next to Michael Jordan.

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His career highlights and awards include 2× All-Star, 7× World Series champion, American League (AL) MVP, AL batting champion, 12× AL home run leader, 5× AL RBI leader, AL ERA leader, New York Yankees No. 3 retired, Monument Park honoree, Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame, Major League Baseball All-Century Team, Major League Baseball All-Time Team, and Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials MJ, is an American businessman and former professional basketball player. He played fifteen seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.

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Jordan is the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA and of 23XI Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. He was integral in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s, becoming a global cultural icon in the process.

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Jordan's career highlights and awards include 6× NBA champion, 6× NBA Finals MVP, 5× NBA Most Valuable Player, 14× NBA All-Star, 3× NBA All-Star Game MVP, 10× All-NBA First Team, All-NBA Second Team, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team, NBA Rookie of the Year, NBA All-Rookie First Team, 10× NBA scoring champion, 3× NBA steals leader, 2× NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion,

* * *

His No. 23 was retired by Chicago Bulls, and his No. 23 was also retired by Miami Heat. Jordan was a 3× AP Athlete of the Year, Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, 2× IBM Award, and NBA anniversary team (50th, 75th) awardee.

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As an amateur, he was NCAA champion, National college player of the year, 2× Consensus first-team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, ACC Athlete of the Year, 2× First-team All-ACC,ACC Rookie of the Year, No. 23 retired by North Carolina Tar Heels, 2× USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year, McDonald's All-American, First-team Parade All-American and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee.

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Several experts have said that Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. In 1999, an ESPN survey of journalists, athletes and other sports personalities voted Jordan as the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century. The Associated Press named him the greatest basketball player of the 20th century. Jordan has also appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated a record 50 times.

* * *

He became the majority owner of Charlotte Hornets, the first former player to become the majority owner of an NBA team. It also made him the league's only African-American majority owner.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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