Actors Who Played Real Sportspeople
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Decade: Rating: List Type:
Gentleman Jim (1942)
James J. Corbet
"James John "Gentleman Jim" Corbett (September 1, 1866 – February 18, 1933) was an American professional boxer and a former World Heavyweight Champion, best known as the man who defeated the great John L. Sullivan. Despite a career spanning only 24 bouts, Corbett faced the best competition his era had to offer; squaring off with a total of nine fighters who would later be enshrined alongside him in the International Boxing Hall of Fame." (Wikipedia)
The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
"Henry Louis "Lou" or "Buster" Gehrig (Born Heinrich Ludwig Gehrig; June 19, 1903 – June 2, 1941) was an American baseball first baseman who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, from 1923 through 1939. Gehrig was renowned for his prowess as a hitter and for his durability, a trait that earned him his nickname "The Iron Horse". He was an All-Star seven consecutive times, a Triple Crown winner once, an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player twice and a member of six World Series champion teams. He had a career .340 batting average, .632 slugging average, and a .447 on base average. He hit 493 home runs and had 1,995 runs batted in (RBI). In 1939, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame and was the first MLB player to have his uniform number (4) retired by a team." (Wikipedia)
"James Francis "Jim" Thorpe (Sac and Fox (Sauk): Wa-Tho-Huk, translated as "Bright Path"; May 22, 1887 – March 28, 1953) was a Sac and Fox athlete of Native American and European ancestry. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football (collegiate and professional), and also played professional baseball and basketball. He lost his Olympic titles after it was found he was paid for playing two seasons of semi-professional baseball before competing in the Olympics, thus violating the amateurism rules that were then in place. In 1983, 30 years after his death, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) restored his Olympic medals." (Wikipedia)
The Great White Hope (1970)
James Earl Jones
John Arthur "Jack" Johnson (March 31, 1878 – June 10, 1946), nicknamed the Galveston Giant was an American boxer, who—at the height of the Jim Crow era—became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion (1908–1915). Johnson went on to become one of the most dominant champions of his time, and remains a significant historical figure in heavyweight boxing history, with his 1910 fight against James J. Jeffries being dubbed the "fight of the century." Johnson was faced with much controversy when he was charged with violating the Mann Act in 1912, even though there was an obvious lack of evidence and the charge was largely racially based. In a documentary about his life, Ken Burns notes that "for more than thirteen years, Jack Johnson was the most famous and the most notorious African-American on Earth". (Wikipedia)
Raging Bull (1980)
Robert De Niro
Jake La Motta
"Giacobbe "Jake" LaMotta (born July 10, 1921) is an American retired professional boxer and former World Middleweight Champion. Nicknamed "The Bronx Bull" and "The Raging Bull", LaMotta was a rough fighter, who although not particularly a big puncher, would subject his opponents to vicious beatings in the ring, with use of constant stalking, brawling and inside fighting, he developed the reputation for being a 'bully', and is often referred to today as a swarmer and a slugger. Due to his style of fighting, LaMotta often got as much as he was giving in an era of great middleweights; with a thick skull and jaw muscles, LaMotta was able to absorb incredible amounts of punishment over the course of his career, and is thought to have one of the greatest chins in boxing history. LaMotta's six fight rivalry with Sugar Ray Robinson is one of the most notable in the sport, with LaMotta winning just one of the bouts, although each one was close and LaMotta dropped Robinson multiple times." (Wikipedia)
Chariots of Fire (1981)
"Harold Maurice Abrahams, CBE, (15 December 1899 – 14 January 1978) was an English track and field athlete. He was Olympic champion in 1924 in the 100 metres sprint" (Wikipedia)
"Eric Henry Liddell (16 January 1902 – 21 February 1945) was a Scottish athlete, rugby union international player, and missionary, who chose between his religious beliefs and competing in an Olympic race.
At the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Liddell refused to run in the heats for his favoured 100 metres because they were on a Sunday. He instead competed in the 400 metres, which he won." (Wikipedia)
"Charles "Charley" William Paddock (August 11, 1900 – July 21, 1943) was an American athlete and two time Olympic champion.
Paddock was born in Gainesville, Texas.
In 1920, Paddock represented his country at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. In Belgium, he had his greatest successes, winning the 100 m final, while placing second in the 200 m event. With the American 4 × 100 m relay team, Paddock won a third Olympic medal. Paddock became famous for his unusual finishing style, leaping towards the finish line at the end of the race.
At the 1924 Olympics, Paddock again qualified for both the 100 and 200 m finals, but he was less successful than four years earlier; he finished 5th in the 100 m and won another silver medal in the 200 m. Paddock was not a part of the relay team." (Wikipedia)
"Jackson Volney Scholz (March 15, 1897 – October 26, 1986) was an American sprint runner. In the 1920s, he became the first person to appear in an Olympic sprint final in three different Olympic Games.
His first Olympic appearance was in Antwerp in 1920, where he won a gold medal with the American 4 × 100 m relay team. Individually he placed fourth in the 100 m. Later that year, Scholz equaled the World Record in the 100 m, running 10.6 s in Stockholm.
Four years later, he was one of the favorites for the sprint titles in the 100 and 200 m. He lived up to the expectations in the 200 m, but was beaten to the gold in the 100 m by Britain's Harold Abrahams. The 100 m race, and the 400 m race won by Eric Liddell.
Scholz made a third Olympic appearance in 1928. As the reigning champion, he placed fourth in the 200 m." (Wikipedia)
The Babe (1992)
George Herman 'Babe' Ruth
"George Herman Ruth Jr. (February 6, 1895 – August 16, 1948) was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball (MLB) spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed "The Bambino" and "The Sultan of Swat", he began his MLB career as a stellar left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. Ruth established many MLB batting (and some pitching) records, including career home runs (714), runs batted in (RBIs) (2,213), bases on balls (2,062), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base plus slugging (OPS) (1.164); the latter two still stand today. Ruth is regarded as one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. He was one of the first five inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936." (Wikipedia)
Tommy Lee Jones
Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb (December 18, 1886 – July 17, 1961), nicknamed The Georgia Peach, was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder. He was born in rural Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1936 Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes (98.2%); no other player received a higher percentage of votes until 1992. In 1999, editors at the Sporting News ranked Ty Cobb 3rd on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players".(Wikipedia)
Without Limits (1998)
"Steve Roland "Pre" Prefontaine (January 25, 1951 – May 30, 1975) was an American middle and long-distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics. Prefontaine once held the American record in seven different distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters. Prefontaine died in May 1975 at the age of 24 in an automobile accident." (Wikipedia)
The Hurricane (2000)
"Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (May 6, 1937 – April 20, 2014) was an American middleweight boxer who was wrongfully convicted of murderand later released from prison following a petition of habeas corpus after spending almost 20 years in prison." (Wikipedia)
Cassius Clay / Cassius X / Muhammad Ali
"Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942 - June 3, 2016) was an American former professional boxer, generally considered among the greatest heavyweights in the history of the sport. A controversial and polarizing figure during his early career, Ali is now highly regarded for the skills he displayed in the ring plus the values he exemplified outside of it: religious freedom, racial justice and the triumph of principle over expedience. He is one of the most recognized sports figures of the past 100 years, crowned "Sportsman of the Century" by Sports Illustrated and "Sports Personality of the Century" by the BBC." (Wikipedia)
Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones Jr. (March 17, 1902 – December 18, 1971) was an American amateur golfer, and a lawyer by profession, who was one of the most influential figures in the history of the sport. Jones founded and helped design the Augusta National Golf Club, and co-founded the Masters Tournament. The innovations that he introduced at the Masters have been copied by virtually every professional golf tournament in the world.(Wikipedia)
Cinderella Man (2005)
"James Walter "Cinderella Man" Braddock (June 7, 1905 – November 29, 1974) was an American boxer who was the world heavyweight champion from 1935 to 1937." (Wikipedia)
Francis DeSales Ouimet (May 8, 1893 – September 2, 1967) was an American amateur golfer who is frequently referred to as the "father of amateur golf" in the United States. He won the U.S. Open in 1913 and was the first non-Briton elected Captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.(Wikipedia)
Henry William "Harry" Vardon (9 May 1870 – 20 March 1937) was a professional golfer from the Bailiwick of Jersey. He was a member of the fabled Great Triumvirate of the sport in his day, along with John Henry Taylor and James Braid. Vardon won The Open Championship a record six times and also won the 1900 U.S. Open. (Wikipedia)
The World's Fastest Indian (2005)
"Herbert James "Burt" Munro (Bert in his youth; 25 March 1899 – 6 January 1978) was a New Zealand motorcycle racer, famous for setting an under-1,000 cc world record, at Bonneville, 26 August 1967. This record still stands; Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year-old machine when he set his last record.
Working from his home in Invercargill, he worked for 20 years to highly modify the 1920 Indian motorcycle that he had bought that same year. Munro set his first New Zealand speed record in 1938 and later set seven more. He travelled to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats, attempting to set world speed records. During his ten visits to the salt flats, he set three speed records, one of which still stands." (Wikipedia)
The Blind Side (2009)
Michael Jerome Oher (US born Michael Jerome Williams, Jr.; May 28, 1986) is an American football offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft and has also played for the Tennessee Titans. He played college football for the University of Mississippi.
Oher earned unanimous All-American honors at Mississippi, and was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. His life through his final year of high school and first year of college is one of the subjects of Michael Lewis' 2006 book, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and was featured in the Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Blind Side. (Wikipedia)
Jacobus Francois Pienaar (born 2 January 1967) is a retired South African rugby union player. He played flanker for South Africa (the Springboks) from 1993 until 1996, winning 29 international caps, all of them as captain. He is best known for leading South Africa to victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. After being dropped from the Springbok team in 1996, Pienaar went on to a career with English club Saracens.(Wikipedia)
The Fighter (2010)
"George Michael "Micky" Ward, Jr. (born October 4, 1965), often known as "Irish" Micky Ward, is an American former professional boxer who held the WBU light welterweight title. He is widely known for his three fights with Arturo Gatti." (Wikipedia)
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American professional baseball second baseman who became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. The Dodgers, by signing Robinson, heralded the end of racial segregation in professional baseball that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues since the 1880s. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962. (Wikipedia)
Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt
James Simon Wallis Hunt (29 August 1947 – 15 June 1993) was a British racing driver who won the Formula One World Championship in 1976. After retiring from racing in 1979, Hunt became a media commentator and businessman.
Beginning his racing career in touring car racing, Hunt progressed into Formula Three where he attracted the attention of the Hesketh Racing team and was soon taken under their wing. Hunt's often reckless and action-packed exploits on track earned him the nickname "Hunt the Shunt", "shunt" being a British racing term that means "crash". Hunt entered Formula One in 1973, driving a March 731 entered by the Hesketh Racing team. He went on to win for Hesketh, driving their own Hesketh 308 car, in both World Championship and non-Championship races, before joining the McLaren team at the end of 1975. In his first year with McLaren, Hunt won the 1976 World Drivers' Championship, and he remained with the team for a further two years, although with less success, before moving to the Wolf team in early 1979. Following a string of races in which he failed to finish, Hunt retired from driving halfway through the 1979 season.(Wikipedia)
Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda
Andreas Nikolaus "Niki" Lauda (born 22 February 1949) is an Austrian former Formula One driver and a three-time F1 World Drivers' Champion, winning in 1975, 1977 and 1984. He is currently the only driver to have been champion for both Ferrari and McLaren, the sport's two most successful constructors. More recently an aviation entrepreneur, he has founded and run two airlines (Lauda Air and Niki). He is also Bombardier Business Aircraft brand ambassador. He was also a consultant for Scuderia Ferrari and team manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team for two years. He is currently working as a pundit for German TV during Grand Prix weekends and acts as non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team.
Lauda was seriously injured in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, during which his Ferrari burst into flames and he came close to death after inhaling hot toxic fumes and suffering severe burns. However, he survived, and recovered enough to race again just six weeks later at the Italian Grand Prix.(Wikipedia)
Louis Silvie "Louie" Zamperini (January 26, 1917 – July 2, 2014) was a US prisoner of war survivor in World War II, a Christian evangelist and an Olympic distance runner.
Zamperini took up running in high school and qualified for the US in the 5000m race for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He finished 8th in the event. In 1941 he was commissioned into the United States Army Air Forces as a Lieutenant. He served as a bombardier in B-24 Liberators in the Pacific. On a search and rescue mission, mechanical difficulties forced Zamperini's plane to crash in the ocean. After drifting at sea for 47 days, he landed on the Japanese occupied Marshall Islands and was captured. He was taken to a prison camp in Japan where he was tortured. Following the war he initially struggled to overcome his ordeal. Later he became a Christian Evangelist with a strong belief in forgiveness. Zamperini is the subject of two biographical films, the 2014 Unbroken and the 2015 Captured by Grace. (Wikipedia)
James Cleveland "Jesse" Owens (September 12, 1913 – March 31, 1980) was an American track and field athlete and four-time Olympic gold medalist in the 1936 games.
Owens specialized in the sprints and the long jump and was recognized in his lifetime as "perhaps the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history". His achievement of setting three world records and tying another in less than an hour at the 1935 Big Ten track meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been called "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport" and has never been equalled. At the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, Owens won international fame with four gold medals: 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and 4 × 100 meter relay. He was the most successful athlete at the games and, as a Black man, was credited with "single-handedly crushing Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy", although he "wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either."
The Jesse Owens Award is USA Track and Field's highest accolade for the year's best track and field athlete. Owens was ranked by ESPN as the sixth greatest North American athlete of the twentieth century and the highest-ranked in his sport.(Wikipedia)
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