The 10 Most Influential Armenians in Sports History

Sammy Sucu@oblivion08Senior Analyst IApril 24, 2012

The 10 Most Influential Armenians in Sports History

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    Look around the landscape of professional sports and you'll see Armenians thriving in many and varied corners.There have been plenty of great Armenians in the world of sports including analysts, coaches and players.

    However, in the early 1900's people would have never considered this success as a possibility.

    From 1915-1918, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in what is now known as the "Armenian Genocide". Many people considered the Armenian people to be completely wiped out from the face of the earth.

    However, instead of slowly dying away, the Armenian people grew together and have now become a big part of pop culture, science and even sports. 

    These Armenians have all done a lot for their community just by succeeding and proving that no matter how small of a community you are, you could make a huge name for yourself in any capacity. 

    Some of these Armenians in sports are considered to be one of the greatest in their respective sport, and others have made a name for themselves with a particular crowd. Mostly everyone on this list is a household name in some fashion. 

    Today is 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In the spirit of remembrance and as a small tribute, let's take a look at the 10 most influential Armenians in sports history.

10. Armen Keteyian

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    Armen Keteyian is best known in the world of sports as television journalist for CBS Sports. He was a special-features reporter in 1997 and also a sideline reporter for the 2005 and 2006 NFL seasons with Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf's broadcast team.

    He was also a sideline reporter with Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms's broadcast team for six years. Keteyian was also a correspondent for HBO Sports' Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, from 1998-2006 and in 2010. 

    Keteyian has made a great name for himself with the NFL as a reporter. Like Tim Kurkjian, he is a true inspiration to any young Armenian journalist who wants to reach great success. 

9. Steve Sarkisian

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    Steve Sarkisian is a very successful college football coach. 

    Sarkisian has been the head coach of the University of Washington since 2009. Prior to his stint as head coach of UW, he was an assistant coach with USC from 2001-2003 and from 2005-2008. Sarkisian had a one year stint as a quarterbacks coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2004. 

    Sarkisian also played football in college and in the Canadian Football League. Sarkisian was the quarterback of Brigham Young University from 1995-1996 and a quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders from 1997-1999. 

    He also played baseball for the USC Trojans and El Camino teams in college. 

    Sarkisian has done a lot in collegiate sports and is a great influence to the Armenian community. 

8. David Nalbandian

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    David Nalbandian is a half Argentinian and half Armenian tennis player. 

    He has a singles career record of 368-176. He went to the semi-finals in the Australian Open in 2006, he went to two semi-finals matches in French Open, one final match in the 2002 at the Wimbledon. In 2005, Nalbandian won the Tour Finals. 

    The highest ranking he has ever been given is number three on March 20, 2006. He is currently ranked 50th. 

    Nalbandian is a very successful tennis player and his Armenian heritage oozes out every time his last name comes up. Nalbandian has plenty of success in the world of tennis and all that success, combined with his last name, is enough to influence aspiring Armenian tennis players. 

7. Garo Yeperemian

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    Garo Yepremian was a kicker in the National Football league. 

    Everyone will remember Yepremian for the blocked kick he "tried" to pass in the 1973 Super Bowl. It was very funny to watch, but everyone knew Yepremian was a great kicker for the Miami Dolphins. He helped the undefeated Dolphins achieve that goal by being a very reliable kicker. 

    Yepremian has been to two Pro Bowls and in 1974 he won the Pro Bowl MVP. He was also placed on the NFL's 1970 All-Decade team. 

    There have not been many Armenian football players, besides Trent Edwards, but Yepremian is definitely a huge name in the sport, and a big name that Armenians are very proud of. 

6. Tim Kurkjian

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    Tim Kurkjian is not an athlete, but he is a very skilled baseball analyst. Kurkjian has been covering baseball since 1981 where he was a beat writer for the Texas Rangers in The Dallas Morning News.  

    Kurkjian is on ESPN as an analyst for Baseball Tonight. During his career, Kurkjian published two books. The first book was called America's Game, and it was written in 2000. The second book was called Is This a Great Game, or What?: From A-Rod's Heart to Zim's Head—My 25 Years in Baseball and it was published in May of 2007.

    Although he was not an athlete, Kurkjian is an inspiration to aspiring Armenian journalists and analysts across the world. Many hope to have the same success Kurkjian did in the world of sports, Armenian or not. 

5. Youri Djorkaeff

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    Youri Djorkaeff made a huge name for himself as a member of the 1998 France team in the World Cup. That team won the World Cup and Djorkaeff was the first Armenian to be crowned a World Cup winner.

    Djorakeff played from 1984 to 2006. In his career, Djorkaeff scored 225 goals. 

    He was a very successful soccer player and a true inspiration to the budding soccer players in Armenia and across the world.

    Recently, Djorkaeff said he wanted to coach the Armenian national soccer team. He did not end up coaching the team, but hopefully he will one day. He also said he wants to train the young Armenian soccer stars on the team. 

    Djorkaeff is a true inspiration to Armenian soccer players and his wishes to coach the team one day are proof. 

4. Steve Bedrosian

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    Steve Bedrosian is a very successful relief pitcher in baseball history. 

    Bedrosian won the most coveted pitching award in 1987, the Cy Young award. Bedrosian posted a 2.83 ERA and had 40 saves that season. He was also apart of the World Series winners, the Minnesota Twins, in 1991. 

    Bedrosian has gone down in history as one of the best relief pitchers of all time. His Cy Young award and World Series championship should be enough to inspire any Armenian who wants to have a career in baseball. 

3. Ara Parseghian

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    Ara Parseghian was a very successful college football coach. He has an overall record of 170 wins, 58 losses, and 6 draws. In his five bowl game appearances, Parseghian has a 3-2 record. 

    In 1966 and 1973, Parseghian won the national championship as the head coach of Notre Dame. He was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980. 

    His record as the head coach of Notre Dame was an incredible 95-17-4 for a 83.6 winning percentage. 

    Parseghian has done a lot outside of college football coaching as well. He founded the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation that is currently seeking a cure for Neimann-Pick disease. 

    Notre was a huge part of the legendary success of the Notre Dame football program; a true inspiration to all Armenians and to the world. He is not only one of the most successful college football coaches of all time, but he is also a respected humanitarian and someone all young Armenians should look up to. 

2. Jerry Tarkanian

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    Tark the Shark. 

    Jerry Tarkanian's nickname should be enough to identify him, especially if you are a fan of college basketball. Tarkanian is one of the winningest head coaches in college basketball history. 

    Tarkanian has a 706-198 winning record across all divisions. His 78.4 winning percentage is fifth all time as a college basketball head coach. 

    Tarkanian coached Riverside City College, Pasadena City College, Long Beach State, UNLV and Fresno State. Tarkanian led UNLV to four final four appearances in 1977, 1987, 1990 and 1991. 

    He will always be remembered for his success and his colorful attitude on the sidelines. Tarkanian is very influential in the Armenian community and his success as a head coach is a big inspiration. 

1. Andre Agassi

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    Andre Agassi is arguably the most influential Armenian in sports, mostly because of his success in the world of tennis.

    Agassi is half Armenian and half Assyrian. 

    In his great career, Agassi won four Australian Opens, one French Open, two US Opens, the Wimbledon in 1992, the Tour Finals in 1990 and the Olympic Games in 1996. 

    Agassi's career record is 870-274 with a 76.05% winning percentage. He was rated as the worlds number one tennis player on April 10, 1995. 

    Agassi has inspired plenty of young children to grow up and become just like him. His influence in the Armenian community is great and many young Armenians hope to achieve the same greatness he did whether it is in tennis, basketball, football or any other avenue. 

    Agassi is truly the most successful Armenian in sports. 

     

    Sammy Sucu is a Featured Columnist for the WWE. Sammy also writes for the NFL, the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Lakers. You can follow him on Twitter.