Sports are supposed to be highly competitive fields where one or a team of athletes compete against one and another for entertainment. Yet there are some athletes who go against the grain, and strip out the 'highly competitive' element. Some sportsmen and women are greater than their peers by such a distance that the element of competition is diminished and they simply dominate their sport for a number of years.
Of course, what they take away in competitiveness, they make up for in the entertainment provided when watching someone who is such a genius in the specific field. For example, the racehorse 'Frankel' which raced from 2010 to 2013 went unbeaten for the entirety of its racing history; but despite everyone knowing what the result would be, demand to see his races was far greater than that of any other horse.
These athletes all had a supremacy over an entire sport for a number of years, some going unbeaten through their entire careers. Even someone of the caliber of Muhammad Ali, despite being the greatest boxer of all-time, was not dominant enough to earn a place on this list, given his defeats to Norton, Frazier and Spinks. Here are the top 15 most dominant athletes in their sports:
16 Michael Schumacher
It is some indication of those to come that Michael Schumacher almost missed out on the top 15. What makes Schumacher's dominance so impressive is the field in which he was so dominant, namely Formula One. There is some debate in F1 over the importance of the car and of the racer, but when someone wins seven World Drivers Championships, one has to acknowledge that they are a driver or incredible talent and ability. Juan Manuel Fangio, who almost made the list with his dominance in the 1950s, is Schumacher's closest competitor, with five titles. Schumacher incredibly won five Drivers Championships in a row, from 2000 to 2004.
15 Tiger Woods
It is a shame that Tiger Woods has suffered something of a fall from grace, otherwise he would probably belong far higher up this list. The fact of the matter is, for well over a decade, no other golfer came close to him. He has won 14 majors with 79 career wins, both of which are the second highest in the history of the sport. Woods obviously has immense ability, and there is still the hope that one day we will see him back to his best. If that happens, Woods could potentially overtake Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors.
14 Jesse Owens
Jesse Owens undoubtedly had the most dominant 45 minutes in sports history, setting three world records in three quarters of an hour in 1935. A year later, he would humiliate Hitler and the idea of Aryan superiority. He won four golds at Berlin, the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the relay and the long jump. Some of his records stood for almost half a century, which is almost unheard of in track & field events. Hitler responded by saying that Owens' antecedents came out of the jungle, making their physiques stronger, and that 'they' should be excluded from all further games.
13 Michael Jordan
Five time NBA MVP is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player in the history of the sport. He won nine scoring titles in a ten year period, but even that does not truly display his incredible dominance over basketball for over a decade. His list of honors are incredible but his true influence upon almost every game he played in ran deeper than any titles, trophies, awards, cups or medals could ever display. From the late 80's through to the late 90's, Jordan was consistently superb, dominating almost every game he played in.
12 Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt is the fastest man on Earth and, to our knowledge, the fastest man to have ever lived. Although he has lost races to Tyson Gay and Yohan Blake, they came after Bolt had not been in intense training, and when it really matters, such as at the Olympics, nobody can get near the Jamaican, who holds the 100 meters world record (9.57 seconds) and the 200 meters world record (19.19 seconds). At his best, Bolt is comfortably quicker than his competitors, and seemed to slow down/showboat after 80 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, such was his dominance over the rest of the field.
11 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn't finished his career yet, and most likely has one or possibly two bouts left in him. One would be confident enough to go out on a limb and say, he will not be beaten though. If anyone was going to subject Mayweather to his first professional career defeat, it was going to Manny Pacquiao, and we all know how that went. Love him or hate him, Mayweather is an exceptional boxer, one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters to have ever lived and his defense is arguably the most efficient in the sports history. Mayweather's professional boxing record stands at 48 wins, 0 draws, 0 losses.
10 Heather McKay
Heather McKay was a quite incredible athlete; as well as being the greatest female squash player of all time, she was also proficient playing field hockey and racquetball. Her dominance over women's squash is staggering, as she went unbeaten from 1962 until 1981, a quite extraordinary record. In that time she won 16 consecutive British Open titles and 14 consecutive Australian Open titles. In her entire career, spanning 25 years, she was defeated only twice, with a 19-year unbeaten streak. She is widely regarded as Australia's greatest sportswoman and became a tennis coach following her retirement in 1985.
9 Larisa Latynina
Larisa Latynina held the record as the most decorated Olympian in history for 48 years, until that record was surpassed by a man who is still to come on this list. Although she has lost the record for the total number of medals, Latynina still holds the title for the most individual medals, with 14. Representing the Soviet Union as a gymnast, the Soviets were dominant in gymnastics from the mid-50s to the mid-60s, and Latynina is largely pointed to as the reason behind their incredible success. She won four golds in 1956, three golds in 1960 and two golds in 1964, as well as nine other medals throughout this period.
8 Jon Jones
While Jon Jones the person isn't the most popular right now, his success in the octagon earns him a spot here, as his dominance is just too great to leave him off. Jones has a pro MMA record of 21-1 with his only loss coming via disqualification due to illegal elbows. Jones became the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion at just 23 years old by defeating one of the greatest fighters of the generation in Mauricio Rua. Jones had eight successful titles defenses before his hit-and-run incident led to his suspension and he was stripped of his championship. Jones is his own worst enemy in many ways, but he has yet to meet his match.
7 Sir Don Bradman
Sir Don Bradman is the greatest cricketer of all time. He had a test batting average of 99.94, which is cited by many as the greatest achievement in sports history. Those of you who know cricket will need no explanation to understand why that is quite so incredible. For those of you who don't understand, it's worth trying to put it in some perspective. The second highest test batting average in history is 60.97. It is far greater dominance than Ty Cobb's batting average of .367 or Michael Jordan's point average of 30.1. In 2001, Bradman was named the greatest living Australian, some indication of the status he holds in the country.
5 Wayne Gretzky
It is difficult to describe Wayne Gretzky's career without wandering carelessly into hyperbole, but let's give it a go anyway. He was the greatest hockey player in the history of the sport. He was the greatest scorer in the history of hockey, and the greatest assist man in the history of hockey, the latter of which he leads by some distance. He has 93 more NHL goals than any other player, but more remarkably, he has 700 more assists than any other player. He has more assists than any other player has both assists and goals combined. Those statistics give you some indication of Gretzky's dominance, and why he is one of the most dominant men in team sport history.
4 Jim Brown
Team sports make it harder to quantify dominance, but Jim Brown was a really special player. He was one of the few football players that never had an off year and when he hung his cleats up, you knew he could do even more. Brown made the Pro Bowl in all nine years of his career and was an All Pro in eight of them. In nine years, he rushed for over 12,000 yards and scored 106 touchdowns. While guys like Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and others surpassed some of Brown's numbers, no one matched his consistency and Brown was the one who put the spotlight on the tailback position.
3 Rocky Marciano
It is clear that Rocky Marciano is one of the greatest boxers of all time. He is the only heavyweight world champion to go undefeated over his entire professional career. Despite being 5-foot-11 and only 190 pounds, Marciano had incredible power. More than that, he had staggering stamina, and was relentless in his fights. His knockout percentage of 87.75% is the highest of any heavyweight boxer in history. Marciano retired in 1955 with a record of 49 wins, 0 draws and 0 losses, he was knocked down only twice and knocked 43 of his opponents out.
2 Michael Phelps
The man who replaced Larisa Latynina in 2012 as the most decorated Olympian of alltime, some claim Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time. His record of 22 medals is impressive, but his record of 18 gold medals even more so, which is double that of Latynina, although Phelps has had the bonus of winning group events. Widely regarded as the greatest swimmer in history, Phelps' 18 golds reflect that. The 2008 Olympics was probably Phelps at his best and his most dominant, as he entered eight events and won eight golds, a quite remarkable feat.
1 Jahangir Kahn
Jahangir Khan is the most dominant athlete in history. His dominance over the sport of squash throughout the 1980s cannot be matched. From 1981 to 1986 he went unbeaten, which is an incredible achievement given the regularity of squash matches. In that time, he was undefeated in 555 matches, a record which stands in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest winning streak by any athlete in top-level professional sport. Kahn won the World Open six times and the British Open ten times, before fellow Pakistani Jansher Khan began his dominance of the sport. Jahangir Kahn once won the World Championships without dropping a single game, an indication of his sheer dominance.