Oh what a treat we’ve got for you today here on The Sportster. If you think you know athletes, get ready for a reality check as we guarantee you weren’t aware that some of these entries are using a fake name nowadays. The stories pertaining to the new names are quite unique. In some cases, athletes reverted to a simpler name, particularly those with lengthy names (some Brazilians as you’ll see). In other cases, some just continued to use nicknames that stuck with them their entire life. Some got the nickname during their college days while others developed the nickname as a form of teasing from others - yes, we truly have it all in this article. We’ll also look at a couple of unique occurrences that featured athletes changing their names to escape the law. We’ll feature those tremendous stories as well.
From all the major sports leagues including the NHL, NBA, NFL, UFC and PGA, we document those who changed their names. Enjoy the article folks and like always, be sure to share it with a friend. Without further ado, here are 15 fake athlete names you likely didn’t know about. Let’s get started!
15 Cris Cyborg (Cristiane Justino Venancio)
As you’ll see throughout this article, international athletes commonly change their names, particularly Brazilians. We assume the reason is to add a little more simplicity to it and it also helps when you create a marketable name. Seriously, does it get more awesome than Cris Cyborg?
Not only is that a name good enough for MMA but it’s also a name good enough for the WWE as well.
A little known fact about the Women’s Featherweight Champion, she was actually born under the name of Cristiane Justino Venancio. When making the jump to MMA and joining Strikeforce, she scraped her real name and used the Cyborg name instead, a wise decision we can all agree. She’s still going strong at the age of 32 as one of the most dominant fighters in the entire UFC.
14 Matthew Stafford (John Matthew Stafford)
This one might come as a surprise; however, it’s more common than you think for an athlete to use his middle name instead of his real given first name. We’ll see lots of example of that throughout this article, even one of the most popular faces in the NBA opted to take that route as well (scroll down to number one to find out).
We’re not entirely sure when Matthew changed his name but we know his first name, John, was the same name that his father used.
Once drafted into the NFL as the first overall pick of the Lions, he simply went by Matthew Stafford. The QB is hitting his peak at the age of 30 still a member of the Detroit Lions. Things aren’t too shabby for Matthew off the field recently starting a family as a father of identical twins in 2017. We wonder if he’ll change their names as well?
13 Bobby Ryan (Robert Shane Stevenson)
This name change is so good they could have made a movie out of it. Bobby Ryan’s father, Bob Stevenson was charged with various counts in court which included attempted murder, assault and criminal restraint. Knowing the damage such a charge would have on his family, Ryan’s father decided to skip bail and flea his family elsewhere. In doing so, the family changed their names to the Ryans, which was the maiden name of Bobby’s mother. Bobby was home schooled during the escape and he recalls having one thing in that point of his life, hockey.
Eventually, the police would catch Ryan’s father and he was brought to prison. Despite that, Bobby has kept his new name as is. What a story that would unfold as Bobby would end up making the NHL drafted in the first round.
12 Eli Manning (Elisha Nelson Manning)
A theme we see with lots of players in the NFL is the shortening of their names. Eli, who’s actually known as Elisha, is one of the many to use the name abbreviation. Other prominent QBs have also chosen this route, heck the great Tom Brady actually goes by Thomas Edward Brady. Ben Roethlisberger is also short for Benjamin Todd Roethlisberger.
Sometimes, less is more and that’s quite evident with these QBs that use an abbreviated name.
In case you were wondering, no, Eli’s brother doesn’t use a fake or abbreviated name. His real name is actually Peyton, though he does have a middle name, Williams. Just imagine Williams Manning. Or better yet, Elisha Nelson Manning. No, just no. A shortened name can work for the better as you see in the case of these QBs.
11 Manny Pacquiao (Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao)
Born in the Philippines, one of the greatest modern day boxers actually went by the name of Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao. He’s come a long way since then, back in 2015 he was regarded as the second highest paid athlete in the world, what a story.
Nearing his 40s, there seriously isn’t much Manny hasn’t done. Not only is he one of the most popular boxers in the world nowadays, but he’s dipped into the realms of politics, television and film. Not to mention, he played a little of basketball professionally overseas back at home. We guess when you have such a popular name, you can just enter whatever league you want - especially in the Philippines where he’s regarded as a national hero.
10 DeAndre Jordan (Hyland DeAndre Jordan Jr.)
For some names on this list, we understand why they changed their names, especially Brazilians. Some of their darn names are so long that it’s like you’re reading a sentence at times.
That’s not the case for DeAndre Jordan, who instead opted to use his middle name instead of his actually name, Hyland (his dad’s name as well).
Now seriously speaking, this name change is a little odd, how awesome would it be if he went by the name of Hyland Jordan? Talk about unique, most would actually agree his real-name is better than his middle name, but hey, it seems as though DeAndre didn’t think so reverting to his middle name during his high school, college and later, NBA days. At the age of 29, it seems like reverting to his real-name isn’t a possibility any longer.
9 Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira)
We can all agree, this name change was for the better. One of the greatest soccer players to ever hit the pitch, it would have been so easy to refer to the soccer legend as just another Ronaldo, in fact, that is his real first name. Living in a world with Cristiano Ronaldo and another great Brazilian striker Ronaldo, we actually applaud Ronaldinho for finding a unique name that separates him from the two (yes we know he came before Cristiano).
He went by Ronaldo for much of his youth but would change names to Ronaldinho once he joined Gremio. He became a soccer icon with Barcelona; his skills were truly something else. Believe it or not, he hadn’t retired till just recently in January. Several soccer stars including David Beckham paid homage to the Brazilian’s epic career on the pitch.
8 Sergei Fedorov (Sergei Viktorovich Fyodorov)
It seems as though what Brazilian name changed are to soccer, Russian name changes are to hockey. We’ve seen several examples in the past, perhaps one of the most surprising includes one of the greatest Russian born players of all-time.
Sergei’s story is another one worthy of a movie. He was actually born Sergei Viktorovich Fyodorov in his antive land of Russia. He was drafted into the NHL in the fourth round, however, Russia at the time had a ban against players defecting from the country. So what would he do? Sergei would escape Russia by sneaking on a plane to Detroit while his CSKA Moscow team was playing in a game. Sergei got ejected from the game and would literally change clothes and flea from the country. Once he made it to North American and joined the Wings, he reverted to the name of Sergei Fedorov, one that would be immortalized into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
7 Chuck Liddell (Charles David Liddell)
That awkward moment when you’re flipping through channels and see Chuck Liddell or should we say, Charles David Liddell on an episode of Celebrity Big Brother. In case you’re wondering, they didn’t use his real name, but instead, the name that we’ve seen him knockout countless opponents with, Chuck Liddell.
Growing up, Liddell didn’t have it easy, he was raised by a single mother and his grandfather. Chuck would develop an interest for combat sports and he ultimately became a pioneer in the MMA world. Making his debut, he changed his name to Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, putting his Charles David days in the rear view mirror. Charles “The Iceman” just doesn’t sound right at all in truth. We wish the former UFC fighter well in his pursuit for a quarter of a million on the Celebrity Big Brother show.
6 Doc Rivers (Glenn Anton Rivers)
Not only are athletes known to change names but even a certain NBA coach is using a fake name nowadays. Of course, Doc also had a playing career but he’s more so known for his work behind the bench leading the way for the likes of the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and his current team, the Los Angeles Clippers.
His name is certainly unique and one that doesn’t take a big memory to remember. A surprising fact however, his real name is Glenn Anton Rivers.
It seems as though neither Glenn nor Anton was good enough for the NBA coach, he made the wise decision to use one of his more notable nicknames, Doc. According to the head coach, it was actually an assistant coach of Marquette, Rick Majerus that slapped him with the name. The players called him Doc and it was just something that stuck for good since then.
5 Kaka (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite)
Another emotional retirement, Kaka ended his career in the MLS to end the 2017 year. The Orlando faithful paid homage to Kaka with a wonderful standing ovation, granted he wasn’t the same player with the MLS team but he was still nonetheless a joy to watch with his blistering shot and runs.
Kaka became a household name during the AC Milan dynasty years. His partnership alongside Shevchenko made Milan a force to be reckoned with. He was the top attacking mid-fielder in all of Italy at one point with some of the most astonishing runs you’d ever seen. We’ll always remember him as simply Kaka, however, his real name is actually Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite. With such a lengthy name, we approve the switch to a four letter name.
4 Coco Crisp (Covelli Loyce Crisp)
What if we told you that one of the greatest names in all of pro sports was actually fake? Well, some likely figured that out a while ago while others, probably didn’t question the wacky name. It turns out, the name Coco, was actually a nickname given to him by his sister. The reason might be a lot simpler than you thought, Crisp was teased that he looked like the Cocoa Krispies character which caused the name changed. So basically, he ended up using a name that his sister teased him with.
Coco then joked around using the name in his minor league days, the nickname was such a hit with teammates that he ended up using it permanently and in Match of 2013, he made it his official name by changing it and putting his Covelli Loyce days in the past.
3 Tito Ortiz (Jacob Christopher Ortiz)
When we think of badass MMA names, does it really get much better than Tito Ortiz? Turns out, the name was another nickname that stuck. Ortiz was born Jacob Christopher, however his dad would refer to him as Tito since he was a one year old.
We can all agree Jacob Christopher isn’t anywhere near as awesome as Tito.
He would become an icon in the sport during his later days. Ortiz became a trailblazer in the world of MMA. His career recently came to an end and he’s now content with retirement. Among other things Ortiz pursued includes a career in acting and even a brief stint as a professional wrestler with Impact Wrestling. At the age of 43, he’s enjoying retirement alongside his family.
2 Tiger Woods (Eldrick Tont Woods)
One of the greatest names in all of pro sports, Tiger was actually born Eldrick Tont Woods. Just imagine reliving Tiger’s history under the name of Eldrick... no disrespect to any of the Eldricks out there but the name just doesn’t hold a candle to Tiger.
The origins of his real name were in homage to his dad Earl, using the letter E to start his name and his mother Kultida, using the K to end his name.
He would eventually adopt the Tiger moniker as an homage to his dad’s buddy Col. Vuong Dang Phong, who went by the nickname of Tiger. We can all agree Tiger’s dad’s friend is smiling at the way Tiger has brought the name to the mainstream. In terms of popular athlete names, it doesn’t get much better than Tiger.
1 Stephen Curry (Wardell Stephen Curry)
A little known fact about one of the top players in the NBA, Curry actually goes by a fake name. He was born Wardell Stephen Curry, using his father’s name. Curry has admitted that he’s generally known to the masses as Steph or Stephen, however, his close friends and family still refer to him by his real-name Wardell - just another athlete to revert to his middle name instead of his actually first name.
In truth, Wardell is one heck of a name and something we wouldn’t object to calling him.
Granted, Steph or Stephen Curry is so easy to say, but seriously, how many Wardell’s are you aware of? Likely not many. Nonetheless, when his storied career comes to an end in the distant future, we’ll always remember his legacy under a fake name.