Sports Giants: Athletes Who Tower Over the Competition
Most athletes wake up before sunrise to train for their next game. The blood, sweat and tears they endure training on a daily basis to increase their performance is astonishing to watch.
Other competitors, on the other hand, are lucky enough to be bigger than their competition. This collection of titans have a literal leg up on others: They’re the largest athletes of all time.
André the Giant, Wrestling
André Roussimoff, famously known as "Andre the Giant," was a French professional wrestler. At 7 feet, 4 inches tall and weighing upwards of 520 pounds, the nickname was fitting. He was a major player in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and its first inductee into its Hall of Fame.
Yao Ming, Basketball
Hailing from China, Ming played for the Shanghai Sharks with the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) when he was 17 years old. In 2002, the 7 foot, 6 inch Ming was the first pick in the 2002 NBA draft by the Houston Rockets.
Tayyiba Haneef-Park, Indoor Volleyball
Haneef-Park is America's tallest female indoor-volleyball player. At 6 feet, 7 inches, Haneef-Park dominated the court and played for the United States team in three Summer Olympic games. Two silver medals later, Haneef-Park retired to start a family and talk openly about mental health.
Ronnie Coleman, Bodybuilding
Most people consider Coleman to be one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world. Weighing in at 300 pounds at 5 feet, 11 inches tall, Coleman has arms that measure an outrageous 24 inches around. He holds the record for the most wins by an IFBB (International Federation of BodyBuilding and Fitness) professional.
Margo Dydek, Basketball
Born Małgorzata Dydek in Poland in 1974, Dydek traveled to the U.S. to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). She was the first pick in the 1988 WNBA draft by the Utah Starzz for her talents and her colossal height of 7 feet, 2 inches.
Morteza Mehrzad, Sitting Volleyball
Mehrzad is a colossal athlete. In fact, he’s the tallest Paralympian in history at an unbelievable 8 feet, 1 inch in height. As a member of Iran’s national sitting volleyball team, he competed in the 2016 Summer Paralympics and helped his team take home the gold.
Dalip Singh Rana, Wrestling
Better known as "The Great Khali", Rana stands at a massive 7 feet, 1 inch and dominated the professional wrestling world. Hailing from India, Rana earned himself a fleet of wrestling belts as a heavyweight champion weighing in at 347 pounds.
Aaron Gibson, Football
A former offensive tackle for the NFL from ‘99 to ‘10, Gibson holds the distinction of being the heaviest professional football player ever. Standing at an impressive 6 feet, 6 inches, Gibson weighed in at a whopping 410 pounds during his professional football career.
Jayne Porter, Wrestling
Known more by her professional wrestling name "Klondyke Kate," Porter was the heaviest professional female wrestler, weighing in at approximately 392 pounds. For a woman measuring 5 feet, 4 inches, that’s an awful lot of weight to manage, especially in a wrestling ring.
Zdeno Chára, Hockey
Hockey is a far cry from any other professional sport on ice. Things get physically intense during a hockey game. Which is why no one wants to be near Chára’s 6 feet, 9-inch tall frame when he skates onto the court. Especially since Chára has the record for the hardest slapshot in the NHL, clocking in at 108.8 mph.
Emmanuel Yarbrough, Sumo, MMA
Yarbrough held the distinction for being the Guinness World Record holder for the heaviest living athlete of all time. Standing at 6 feet, 8 inches and weighing in at a staggering 882 pounds, it’s incredible to picture him walking, let alone wrestling.
Gheorghe Mureșan, Basketball
Surpassing Manute Bol’s record as the tallest NBA player in history at 7 feet, 7.5 inches tall, Mureșan soared over other players. Hailing from Romania, Mureșan played for the Washington Bullets and New Jersey Nets from ‘93 to ‘00. How does someone shoot a basketball with Mureșan as the team’s Center? Legitimate question.
Ivo Karlović, Tennis
Karlović is a towering tennis talent, standing at 6 feet, 11 inches. A member of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) since 2005, Karlović is one of the best servers on tour, with a record-breaking 156 mph serve. That’s right, we said record-breaking. Thanks to his incredible height, Karlović can serve at a unique trajectory.
Matt Grevers, Swimming
An aquatic powerhouse, Grevers has the distinction of being the tallest Olympic swimmer of all time. A soaring 6 feet, 8 inches is a lot of mass to move in the water, but he's equipped with a muscular 220 pounds to help him through the water.
Jon Rauch, Baseball
Standing at 6 feet, 11 inches and weighing in at 290 pounds, Rauch is the tallest player in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. The towering pitcher's 11-year MLB career spans nine different teams. He also led the U.S. Men's team to a gold medal win in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.
Richard Sligh, Football
Regarded as the tallest player in NFL history, Sligh is the only player in the NFL to measure in at least 7 feet tall. Sligh played as a Defensive tackle, but it turns out he may have had more luck on the field as a goalpost.
Aaron Judge, Baseball
It turns out it’s a great idea to have someone 6 feet, 7 inches play in the outfield. That brilliant idea by the New York Yankees got Judge snatched up in the first round of the 2013 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft. Little did they know that he wasn’t simply prime real estate for the outfield, but Judge proved to be a dominant force at the bat.
Jack Bacheler, Track & Field
Sometimes, people have a leg up on the competition. For Bacheler, he had some seriously helpful legs in the world of long-distance running. At 6 feet, 7 inches, he towered over other runners, yet weighed fairly similarly to his competitors at 165 pounds.
Shaquille O’Neal, Basketball
Standing at a lofty 7 feet, 1 inch and weighing 325 pounds, O’Neal was one of the largest players throughout his 19-year basketball career. After being the first draft overall in 1992 by the Orlando Magic, O’Neal quickly became one of the best centers in the NBA.
Nataliya Kuznetsova, Bodybuilding
Kuznetsova is a Russian professional bodybuilder who stands at 5 feet, 7 inches, but weighs in at a staggering 225 pounds. She is currently the world's heaviest known female professional bodybuilder. Kuznetsova currently holds titles in armlifting, bench press, and deadlift.
Peter Crouch, Soccer
Crouch is soccer’s center forward that you can see coming from miles away. It’s pretty rare to spot professional soccer players reaching over the 6-foot mark. Crouch stands at an astounding 6 feet, 7 inches, which launches him well over other players on the field.
Randy Johnson, Baseball
Dubbed "The Big Unit," Johnson played Major League Baseball for an astounding 22 seasons. Johnson stands at 6 feet, 8 inches, and is one of the most accomplished pitchers of all time. His 100 mph fastballs were some of the most celebrated and dominating pitches in the game.
Bryce Bennett, Skiing
At a mountainous 6 feet, 7 inches with a size 15 shoe, Bennett’s parents weren’t sure he could ever fulfill his skiing dreams. But Bennett has proven to his naysayers that even incredibly tall athletes can compete in sports meant for compact bodies.
Manute Bol, Basketball
Bol was a massive standout during his time in the NBA. Literally. His shot-blocking specialty was untouchable thanks to his 7 feet, 7 inch height. That was where most of Bol’s basketball talent was, as he underperformed elsewhere on the court.
Stefan Struve, MMA
Mixed martial artist Stefan Struve is nicknamed "The Skyscraper" for a good reason. The 7 foot tall, 265-pound powerhouse is a Dutch mixed martial artist who grew up playing football before exploring the world of MMA. He made his debut at just 17 years old.
Blanka Vlašić, High Jump
Vlašić is a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist. Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches, she is widely regarded as one of the best in the sport of high jump. Her accomplishments are especially impressive after the health challenges she's endured throughout her entire athletic career.
Yvetta Hlaváčová, Swimming
The stunning swim star stands at a stupendous 6 feet, 4.5 inches, making her one of the tallest swimmers in the world. Hlaváčová holds the world record for swimming the entire English Channel in 7 hours and 25 minutes.
Lindsay Davenport, Tennis
Davenport has the distinction of being one of five women who have been the year-end World No. 1 at least four times in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Famous for her powerful groundstrokes, it probably helped that she stands at 6 feet, 2.5 inches tall.
William Perry, Football
Legendary NFL icon William "The Refrigerator" Perry was a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches and weighing in at a whopping 350 pounds, Perry earned the appropriate nickname, "The Fridge."
Chuck Nevitt, Basketball
At 7 feet 5 inches, Nevitt was one of the tallest players in NBA history. His name may not be as recognizable as other basketball stars of his stature, but he was able to last in the league for an impressive 12 seasons.