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The World’s Toughest Athletes

All sorts of other competitions are going on at the moment besides the Beijing Olympics.

Had you heard about the voting for the world’s toughest athlete? Willis kindly brought this to my attention because of my previous article on Laird Hamilton.

32 candidates had been chosen and were voted on on August 1st, the Mean 16 were voted on the 15th. Laird Hamilton had been chosen in the elite top 15. You might remember a previous article of ours, “Is Laird Hamilton the Greatest Big Wave Surfer Ever?”, but if not Laird has ridden waves of up to 70 feet at speeds of up to 50 mph. But it wasn’t until he surfed a colossal wave in Tahiti’s Teahupo’o that he was crowned the greatest big-wave surfer of all time. A wipeout in Teahupo’o, a particularly hazardous shallow-water reef break, would have meant certain death. But Hamilton survived what is widely considered the most dangerous wave ever ridden.

As CamPAIN08 says, “the toughest athlete represents a lifetime of determination, competition, domination and tradition. Accomplished athletes, warriors and survivors, their outstanding achievements landed them on our list.”

The August 15th vote has been and gone and the last 8 are an illustrious bunch:

Adam Bender, Little League; Bodacious, a bull; Lance Armstrong, cylcist; Lance Mackey, musher; Rachel Scdoris, musher; Team Hoyt, triathletes, Terry Fox, running; Urijah Faber, MMA.

You must have heard about at least one of these, but I must say the bull brought me up short so I did a little more research and this is who Bodacious is: “The 1,800lb horned beast was referred to as “The World’s Most Dangerous Bull.” His specialty was delivering life-threatening head butts to riders. After one unsuccessful ride, Tuff Hedeman’s face needed reconstructive surgery. Later that year when Hedeman drew Bodacious again, he opted not to ride him.”

The other 24 are no less illustrious. They were:

Ruben Gardner, wrestling; Muhammed Ali, boxing; Greg Lamond, cyclist; Bob Probert, hockey; Laird Hamilton, surfing; Mike Tyson, boxing; Ronnie Lott, American football; Evel Knievel, daredevil; Gordie Howe, hockey; Lane Frost, bull runner; Lou Gehrig, baseball; Archie Moore, boxer; Brett Favre, American football; Julie Krone, jockey; Mark Zupan, wheelchair rugby; Patrick Musimu, free diving; Dean Potter, climbing; Felix Baumgartner, base jumping; Grant Dalton, sailing; Justin Wadsworth, adventure racer; Matt Hoffman, BMX freestyle; Maurice Richard, hockey and Tony Conigliaro, baseball.

What strikes me about this list is the complete cross-section it covers. It is a very balanced and fair view on the effort and commitment sportsmen and women put into their chosen activity be it a mad harum-scarum extreme sport or a highly competitive traditional sport.

To find out more about these athletes go to You will also have a chance to vote for who you think should be the world’s toughest athlete of 2008. Check out the videos too. The TapouT video is pretty funny.

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