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30 Largest Athletes in the World

Nikolai Valuev

Nikolai Valuev

When boxers entered the ring against Nikolai Valuev, they were in for an uphill battle. The massive heavyweight was seven feet tall and weighed 328 pounds, making him the tallest and heaviest champion in boxing history. Even boxing titans like Evander Holyfield were no match for the power and size of this Russian beast. Valuev was a boxer from 1993 to 2009, and he absolutely dominated the ring.

He held the WBA heavyweight title twice and won 50 out of his 53 fights. After retiring, he became a politician, which is a weird jump, but okay. Maybe him getting involved politically had something to do with Russia's doping scandal because he's super passionate about that. After Russia got suspended, he said that the country should go to the Olympics and "tear everyone apart to spite these bastards who want to k*ll our sport."

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Peter Crouch

Peter Crouch

To be a good soccer player, you've got to be nimble and quick, and normally, those skills are found in smaller people. But Peter Crouch hasn't let his 6'7" stature stop him from becoming a soccer great. While he is retired now, Crouch has played for high-profile teams like Stoke City and the English national team.  

Near the end of his career, Crouch was able to pull £10-11 million (Euro) for a single season. Over the years, he scored over 200 goals, which skyrocketed his teams to victory. Naturally, he earned Player of the Season twice, Player of the Year once, and Goal of the Season once. The craziest thing is that he had 735 appearances during his career and played until he was 38. 

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TJ Barnes

TJ Barnes

TJ Barnes is a seriously big dude.  Coming in at 6'7" and 364 lbs, he's definitely a player to watch. Thanks to his size, he's a major asset, but he hasn't performed as well as coaches hoped. He's only had six tackles in his career, which definitely should be higher for a guy his size. 

He's played with a high number of teams including the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Legends, and the New York Guardians. We're not sure where he'll go in his NFL career, but he's already 31 and hasn't really done much. Maybe it's time to finally just retire? 

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Yao Ming

Yao Ming

In the mid-2000s, Yao Ming was the most popular thing to come from the NBA. And for good reason too--the basketball star was a staggering 7'6". Even in a sport that's dominated by tall people, almost no opponent was a real match for Ming. Yao ended up playing in America not long after the NBA got wind of him. 

He reached the NBA playoffs four times, and even went onto the Olympics three times! Unfortunately, Yao had a series of foot and ankle injuries, which made him miss 250 games in six seasons. It was time for him to officially retire. After that, he moved on to politics, being both the president of the Chinese Basketball Association and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. 

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Nataliya Kuznetsova

Nataliya Kuznetsova

Nataliya Kuznetsova is a massive female bodybuilder — even by male bodybuilding standards, her stats are insane! With 18.5-inch biceps and 28-inch thighs, she is quite possibly the largest woman bodybuilder ever. Also, if it wasn't obvious from her extremely abnormal size, the woman is probably on every steroid under the sun. 

 

Kuznetsova isn't afraid to admit that she uses steroids. She's been very open about her use of anabolic steroids and estrogen blockers. She began powerlifting at the young age of 14 years old, and from that point on, building muscle would be her life. Not only is she sponsored by sports nutrition brands, but she's also married to bodybuilder Vladislav Kuznetsov. 

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John Krahn

John Krahn

John Krahn may be young (and just starting his career), but his sheer size is something of a legend. The guy cracks 400-pound scales, which he carries on a massive 7-foot-tall frame. It's the kind of football player that coaches drool over. Krahn was a high schooler when everyone caught sight of him.

It's not surprising that he holds the unofficial record for the biggest big man touchdown of all time. After high school, he went on to play college football at Portland State, and we're just sure he's on the fast track to the NFL...as long as he has the stats to back it up. We don't want another big player with garbage stats on any NFL team. 

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Margo Dydek

Margo Dydek

We've featured someone women on this list who are incredibly tall with respect to the average height of a woman, but Margo Dydek is a different story. Coming in at a staggering 7'2" she is tall by any objective standard, male or female. She became well known for being the tallest female basketball player in the whole world.

She played the center position for multiple teams in the WNBA and had a stint as a coach for the Northside Wizards in the Queensland Basketball League. As if that wasn't enough, she was awarded the Polish Gold Cross of Merit in 1999 and was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2019. Unfortunately, Dydek passed away in 2011, but her impressive record as a basketball great lives on. 

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Gheorghe Muresan

Gheorghe Muresan

Gheorghe Muresan's career as an NBA player isn't the most impressive. His professional career started with a Romanian basketball club, where he became national champion in 1992. From there, he joined a French league and became a hit with fans while winning the French League Cup. Then, he joined the NBA. Something happened where he just became...average at best.

Maybe it was thanks to injuries he sustained that kept him from playing at his best. Muresan ended up having to retire from the game, but he still loves the sport. He founded the Giant Basketball Academy, which is a program dedicated to teaching proper fundamentals of the sport to boys and girls of all ages. He's also part of the Washington Wizard's PR team.  The 7'7" player is currently tied for the tallest player in NBA history. 

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Mamadou N'Diaye

Mamadou N'Diaye

Mamadou N'Diaye was already breaking records in college. During his time at UC Irvine, he became the tallest NCAA Division I player at 7'6". Since then, he's moved on to the NBA where his exceptional height has given him a big boost over the competition. You know the NBA needed to have him!

N'Diaye's center play is so impressive that he was named Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year after the 2013-2014 NCAA Division I men's Basketball season. That same year, he earned all-conference honorable mention accolades, which was a lot for someone that had just turned 20. N'Diaye is considered to be a talented shot-blocker.

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Emanuel Yarbrough

Emanuel Yarbrough

Even by sumo standards, Emanuel Yarbrough was a beast. At his highest weight, he came in at 800 lbs and was even named the largest living athlete by Guinness World Records. During his sumo stunts, he won silver medals at the Sumo World Championships in 1992 and in 1994 (as well as a bronze in 1993). It was just after this that his weight increased significantly. 

Yarbrough had the goal to drop over 200 pounds to improve his health. Yarbrough had been struggling with his weight since he was 14 when he weighed almost 320 pounds. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to get the weight off. He was hospitalized in 2007 due to heart failure. Then, in 2015, Emanuel Yarbrough passed away due to complications from his weight. 

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Eric Esch

Eric Esch

Eric Esch is proof that you shouldn't judge people on appearances. The boxer weighed 425 lbs at only 5'11", and many opponents assumed he would be an easy, out-of-shape target. But they were wrong! At retirement, Esch had a 77-10-4 record in boxing, not to mention his MMA and kickboxing records. 

Better known by the name "Butterbean," Esch is also a TV personality. He's appeared in several things from Jackass: The Movie to NBC's Parenthood. He also had his own reality TV show for a minute called Big Law: Deputy Butterbean in 2011. While he still makes appearances from time to time, Esch is mostly retired with a combined fight record is 97–24–5 with 65 knockouts and 9 submissions.

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Bryant McKinnie

Bryant McKinnie

Bryant McKinnie no longer plays in the NFL, but when he did, he was one of the biggest players on the field. Coming in at 6'8" and 352 lbs, McKinnie was an offensive tackle that you definitely did not want to meet on the field. Interestingly, McKinnie wasn't always thrilled about his weight or the criticism he received because of it.  

While McKinnie is famous for his weight (and football), he's equally as infamous for his scandals. He was involved in the 2005 Minnesota Vikings boat party scandal and had to pay a $1,000 fine as well as perform 48 hours of community service. Then, in 2008, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest after a brawl outside of a Miami nightclub. 

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Kerri Walsh Jennings

Kerri Walsh Jennings

You wouldn't expect volleyball players to be able to touch the sky, yet here we are. Guess being tall is a benefit because Kerri Walsh Jennings is a massive 6'3" tall. Considering the average woman in the sport is 5'9", she towers over them. Jennings has over 133 victories which have earned her over $2 million in winnings!

She's been to the Olympics four times, earning three golds and a bronze. She's also participated in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour nearly every year since 2003, and she walked away with gold more often than not. Jennings and Misty May-Treanor have been called the "greatest beach volleyball team of all time."

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Konishiki Yasokichi

Konishiki Yasokichi

We expect sumo wrestlers to be large, but Konishiki Yasokichi took it to a new level. With nicknames like "Meat Bomb" and "Dump Truck", the 633 lb wrestler was clearly a force to be reckoned with in the sumo community. In addition to his power, Yasokichi was also notable for being a Hawaiian native--most non-Japanese wrestlers don't experience as much success as Yasokichi. 

Yasokichi reached the second-highest possible rank in the sport by winning the top division championship on three separate occasions. He also got pretty close to becoming the first foreign-born grand champion (or yokozuna). It prompted controversy on whether or not a non-Japanese sumo wrestler could understand and respect the culture behind sumo. 

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Big Show

Big Show

Big Show (aka Paul Wight) is a WWE wrestler and an absolute tank of a man. With a height of 7'2" and a weight of 500 lbs, he's one of the largest professional wrestlers in the world. In fact, when he began his career in the WCW, he was introduced as "the son of Andre the Giant." 

Between the WWF/WWE and the WCW, he is a seven-time world champion and held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship twice, the WWF/WWE Championship twice, WWE's World Heavyweight Championship twice, and the ECW World Heavyweight Championship once. That makes him the only wrestler to win all four titles. Basically, you don't want to meet this guy in the ring. 

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Blanka Vlasic

Blanka Vlasic

The high jump is a sport where it doesn't really pay to be tall — the longer your arms and legs are, the more likely you are to knock the bar as you jump over. But size hasn't stopped 6'2" high jumper Blanka Vlasic from finding success. Despite being almost a foot taller than the average woman, she has managed to win both silver and bronze medals at the Olympics. 

It was almost expected that she would get into sports as she's the daughter of a decathlon record holder, Josko Vlasic. That being said, it's still hard to believe that she attended her first Olympic Games when she was just 16 years old in 2000. That year, she also won the World Junior Championship in Athletics (and she won it again in 2002). She's retired now, but she has plenty of accomplishments under her belt. 

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Choi Hong-man

Choi Hong-man

At 7'2" and 365 lbs, Choi Hong-man took both the MMA and kickboxing worlds by storm. His nickname "Korean Colossus" tells you all you need to know about the size and power of this fighting great. Since bursting into the scene, he's won the 2005 K-1 Seoul Grand Prix, beating Kaoklai Kaennorsing in the finals.

Then in 2008, he dropped off the map to join the military for his 21 months of service, but he was rejected when a brain tumor was discovered in his right eye. He took a break from 2009 to 2015, and he never really came back from that. He still competed but had a hard time getting back on his feet. 

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Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman is a professional bodybuilder, who, at first glance, doesn't seem particularly impressive — he's only 5'11" and 300 lbs. That all changes when you consider the massive size of his muscles. At his peak, his arms were a whopping 24 inches wide, and his chest was 60 inches.

That is some massive size, bodybuilder or not. It's no wonder that Coleman held the title of Mr. Olympia eight years in a row. Alongside his Mr. Olympia wins, he held the record for most wins as an IFBB professional with 26 titles...until it was broken by Dexter Jackson in 2008. 

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Zdeno Chara

Zdeno Chara

It takes toughness to make it in the world of hockey. Hockey players (at least outside of the United States) take a lot of hits. It's just part of the game, and it's what people love. Height isn't necessarily a requirement, but it also doesn't hurt! Just ask Zdeno Chara, the 6'9" NHL player.

You want to intimidate your opponents any way you can, and standing a full foot above them will do the trick! Chara is the tallest person to ever play the NHL, which earned him the nickname "Big Z." Plus, at 45, he's also the oldest active player playing in the top five major professional sports leagues in North America. 

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Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova is a pro tennis player who has managed to rack up more wins, medals, and awards than we can count. While her skills on the court are impeccable, it also doesn't hurt that she's a 6'2" woman. She's not the objectively tallest person on this list, but when you consider that the average height for women is 5'4", it becomes clear that her size is a huge advantage against the competition. 

Sharapova has had 800 matches during her career, but a series of injuries caused her to retire in 2020. During an essay to Vanity Fair, she announced her retirement by saying "I'm saying goodbye. But as I embark on my next chapter, I want anyone who dreams of excelling in anything to know that doubt and judgment are inevitable."

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John Scott

John Scott

Coming in at 6'8", John Scott is not an opponent you want to meet on the hockey rink. This NHL MVP was ruthless on the ice, and his size certainly helped contribute to his success. Scott really gained prominence in early 2016 when he was named captain of the Pacific Division team for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. 

It was a bit of a surprise since he'd only scored five goals in his career and only assist. That isn't to say he doesn't have awards under his belt. That same year, he won the NHL All-Star Game and was voted to be MVP. That was apparently his swan song as he retired at the end of the year. 

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Ivo Karlovic

Ivo Karlovic

Coming in at 6'11", Ivo Karlovic is the tallest ranked tennis player in the world. But he's not just some gimmicky, super-tall player— he's a threat on the court. In addition to his height record, he also holds the record for career aces, coming in at a staggering 13,552. 

Karlovic also officially holds the record for the fastest serve in professional tennis at 156 miles per hour. Later, he was surpassed by Samuel Groth and John Isner, but that's a crazy fast serve. Because of that, he's considered one of the best servers on tour. We're not saying it could be thanks to his height, but it's 100% thanks to his height. 

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Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal

You know we had to add Shaquille O'Neal to the list. In addition to being of the most recognizable basketball players of all time, Shaq was also one of the tallest, coming in at 7'1". While his height was an asset on the court, it didn't stop him from starring in two of the worst movies of the '90s — Blue Chips and Kazaam.

Honestly, we can skip the horror movies and just put on Shaq's acting for a terrifying night. All jokes aside, Shaq was a great player. His 1999-2000 season was easily one of the greatest seasons he had. He basically averaged 30, 14, 4 dimes, and 3 blocks per game with a PER of 30.6. That isn't something a player can sustain, but that tells you how great he was. 

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Chuck Nevitt

Chuck Nevitt

We expect basketball players to be taller than average, but when it comes to 7'5" NBA star Chuck Nevitt, things start to get ridiculous. In addition to being one of the tallest players in basketball history, Nevitt also had the honor of being on the championship Bulls team in 1991-92. 

Chuck Nevitt also had some pretty funny nicknames including Chuck E. Cheese and Human Victory Cigar. Today, he's retired, but he played for nine years. Even today through all the tall men that's played on the court, he still remains one of the largest NBA players in history. 

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Andre the Giant

Andre the Giant

Coming in at a staggering 7'4" and 520 lbs, Andre the Giant was a massive (and massively beloved) wrestler. Even wrestling pros like Hulk Hogan didn't stand a chance when they went head to head with Andre in the ring. The wrestler even found success outside of the ring, thanks to his unusual size. Non-wrestling fans might recognize him as Fezzik in The Princess Bride. 

Sadly, Andre, the Giant died at 46 of congestive heart failure. Despite passing away more than 20 years ago, his legacy still remains today. He's inspired countless wrestlers and bodybuilders out there today. All we can say is that Andre the Giant was the stuff legends are made of. 

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Sharran Alexander

Sharran Alexander

Sharran Alexander has the distinction of being one of only a few officially recognized female professional sumo wrestlers. But even among this select class, she's unique — she's also been declared the world's largest sportswoman by Guinness. She weighs a whopping 448lb, which is certainly nothing to mess with when the match starts. 

Currently, she's listed in the British Sumo Federation as 2nd Kyu grade sumo. To this day, Alexander has four gold medals under her belt. The surprising thing is that she's actually a nanny by profession. Guess hauling kids around is the same as shoving someone out of a ring!

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Andy Fordham

Andy Fordham

Sure, in the world of darts being big offers no tangible advantages. But that being said, professional dart player Andy Fordham is quite possibly the biggest in history, coming in at 6'2" and 445 lbs. That being said, Fordham has recently been trying to slim down and has managed to lose an impressive 200 lbs. 

 

Thanks to his sheer size, Fordham has become known as "The Viking." Over his career, he's won the 2004 BDO World Darts Championship and the 1999 Winmau World Masters. Unfortunately, it's been hard to reach that level of success again. In 2018, he attempted to qualify for the 2018 World Masters, but he only reached the last 272.

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Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie

Lisa Leslie was huge competition for anyone else that stepped onto the court. At 6'5", she was pretty much destined to play basketball from a young age. When Leslie played with the WNBA, she became a three-time WNBA MVP. On top of that, she's also a four-time Olympic gold medal winner. 

Leslie was the first player to dunk in a WNBA game, which was probably easy since the basket was pretty much at eye level. She retired and became coach of the Triplets in 2019. Thanks to her, she helped them win the BIG3 Championship that year. 

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Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson

Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson

You would expect a professional strongman to be, well, strong. But Bjornsson goes above and beyond in the size and power department, even for his chosen career. Coming in at 6'9" and 400 lbs, the man may as well be an oak tree. Actually, he might be able to take out an oak tree...

Bjornsson is the first and only person to have won the Arnold Strongman Classic, Europe's Strongest Man, and World's Strongest Man in the same calendar year. If he looks a little familiar, you might have seen him on Game of Thrones. In the show, he played Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane. We're guessing that was an easy casting choice. 

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William "The Refrigerator" Perry

William "The Refrigerator" Perry

William Perry didn't get the nickname "The Refrigerator" for nothing. He was absolutely massive at 335lbs and 425lbs at his heaviest. He gained popularity when he was a rookie on the Bears team. The same year he won, the franchise won the Superbowl for the first time in Super Bowl XX.

Perry was occasionally a fullback, but he mostly played the defensive tackle position — we can guess why. During his career, he played 138 games and had 29.5 sacks. He also managed to get three offensive touchdowns. After Perry retired, he began participating in a few TV shows like Celebrity Boxing and The A-Team

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