As the world continues to move forward and evolve, different sports take the limelight for a few moments in history. It is essential to acknowledge the importance of the competitive nature in our lives, one which keeps us excited, anticipating and on our feet. Sports offers many great socio-economic opportunities for the country and the individuals participating in whatever event but above all, it gives people someone or something to look up and forward to.
It is crucial and essential to acknowledge the importance of competitive games. In whatever friendly field the competition takes place, there is a community surrounding it. The World Economic Forum posted an article in 2018 titled ‘The uniquely unifying power of sports, and why it matters’. In it Mark Ein discusses the 23rd Olympics when North and South Korea entered a combined women’s hockey team, the New York Times called this ‘the most dramatic gesture of reconciliation’.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair.” - Nelson Mandela
There are many people who eagerly look forward to the next soccer league, the next big boxing or MMA fight, basketball, tennis leagues and many other sports. In this article, we are going to take a step away from betting news, and guides and are going to take a look at some of the most notable and most paid athletes in the past three decades.
This decade has a lot of its highest-paid athletes under the boxing category. We have Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis, Riddick Bowe, Oscar De La Hoya and Lennox Lewis, all falling in the highest-paid athletes around the world. Boxing has always been a highly sought after sport and even in the late 2010s one of the biggest fights was a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. a boxing titan, and Conor Mcgregor an MMA champion.
Following this in the 90s we also saw the rise and total domination of Micahel Jordan, a basketball legend and following him was Shaq O'Neal. In the period around 1993 - 1994 two basketball stars were the two most paid athletes in the world.
In the late 90s, we can see the rise of one of the greatest formula 1 drivers, Michael Schumacher. He is the only driver in history to win 5 consecutive Formula 1 races and 7 in total, he holds many other titles and records under his belt, hence why is widely considered the best to ever grace such a sport. Besides him, we also see a legend in the golfing world rise to stardom. Tiger Woods ends the decade as the second most paid artist. Woods is the only golfer to reach the $100 Million mark which he achieved back in 2012.
A lot of the previous stars have rippled onto this decade; we are talking about Schumacher, Woods, Tyson Jordan and Shaq O'Neal. These stars have dominated the first portion of the 00s, but we can see rising stars like the famous English footballer David Beckham. He got his rise to fame by being one of the best midfielders Manchester United has ever seen. He followed this up by playing for some massive teams like Real Madrid, Ac Milan, Paris Saint- Germain and obviously England's National Football team. GQ posted a very good concise piece on how he rose to stardom which we suggest reading by clicking here.
Another notable rising star in the late 2000s is one of the greatest basketball players to ever do it, Kobe Bryant. Kobe is one of the most beloved basketball players out there, and after his tragic death in 2020 everyone was left in shock as to how the world lost such a great figure, a role model to a lot of young people, a loving husband and a great father.
The late 2000s saw the rise of Bryant’s teammate Lebron James (Lebron James signed with the Lakers in 2018). They both played together in Team USA for the 2016 Olympics. He is one of the most sought after players and if you look at his record, you can see why. He has accomplished so much and is just 35 years of age, there is no telling what he will do next and what his next venture will be.
The decade ends with Tiger Woods still being the highest-paid athlete in the world.
This is the decade of tennis star Roger Federer, football legends Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Boxing champions Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. does not fight as frequently as many other boxing stars, that could be for a variety of reasons, let it be for his age or because he simply does not have to. Whenever he fights it is always a massive event and he makes so much money out of any boxing event that he can stop fighting altogether. Now he has retired but you can never know who might challenge him and be the next contender. It is good to note that Mayweather Jr. is all about giving back, and even with his braggadocious attitude he still aims to give back. As a matter of fact, hours after he beat Mcgregor, he took part in a charity basketball event.
Another boxing star that was one of the highest-paid athletes last year was Canelo Alvarez, praised for his amazing defensive skills and his amazing KO against Sergey Kovalev at the end of 2019. He is praised for his durability and art-like defensive capabilities much like Mayweather, but when the two faced off in 2013, Mayweather Jr. took the upper hand, staining Canelo’s record with only 1 loss.
In the football realm, there is always talk on who is the greatest, is it Ronaldo or Messi? We will leave you to decide that but what is surely undisputed is that they are on the top of most paid athletes. Together they create so much hype, energy and tension that it is hard to miss when their two teams face off. The beauty of competition is that they are both great friends! The acknowledgement of their friendly rivalry makes them facing each other even better! A rising star that will take up the ranks of the best is Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior. He is also amongst the top paid athletes, and if you see his performance and skill, you can easily see why. Right now he is the name of the game and a costly one at that. We can easily see him rising higher and higher in the football world and being the top of the game.
It is good to mention that all these people aim to give back to their community. With so much money in their hands, they always strive in helping the community which they were brought up in. To give a very recent example, Conor Mcgregor, who is not on the list yet but still very prominent, took to the internet to speak about the Covid-19 pandemic and to urge the Irish government to take action to attack the situation before it gets worse. This is a beautiful act of selflessness and care that a lot of athletes show to their surrounding communities.
The sporting world is a competitive one and one which clearly makes a lot of money, but this should not hide the fact that these people are uniting different countries and communities together to form something larger, and the acknowledgement of such fact will help in creating more events where the world can unite as one.