ESPN Body Issue 2012: Ranking the 15 Best Pictures

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJuly 10, 2012

ESPN Body Issue 2012: Ranking the 15 Best Pictures

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    ESPN the Magazine is back with another Body Issue, and we break down the best of the new crop of images. 

    The Body Issue is so simple in its design yet so captivating in its result. The only thing that changes are the athletes who decided to leave the clothes at home and show us what bodies of professional athletes look like. 

    Lucky for us, the worldwide leader decided to leak some amazing images prior to the magazine hitting newsstands on Friday. 

    Here we give you the best that can be had at ESPN's official page

    We are well past the point of controversy here. The special issue has become more of a staple of the sports year rather than causing waves. 

    That is not to say the magic is gone. As you will see from the upcoming images, there is plenty to love about the annual installment of star athletes going nude. 

15. Anna Tunnicliffe

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    Anna Tunnicliffe features twice in this breakdown of the best images from the issue, and it's well warranted in my opinion. 

    The U.S. Women's Team sailor may be a diminutive 5'6" and 146 pounds, but she dominates the waters in this image. 

    Steven Lippman brings the majesty and frightening nature of the ocean to life with this amazing photo. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

14. Carlos Bocanegra

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    Here we have the muddied-up image of Carlos Bocanegra, the 33-year old centre back of the Scottish Premier League's Rangers. 

    He is also the captain of the U.S. Men's National Team. There is something genuinely masculine about the photo taken by Richard Phibbs. 

    This image could bring in the herd and then go sell some cologne to the masses. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

13. Candace Parker

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    There is 2008 WNBA MVP and LA Sparks' star forward gets another shot at featuring in ESPN the Magazine. 

    Obviously, Parker is lovely enough to warrant inclusion on the list. However, glitz and glam of the vibrant colors is too charming to disregard. 

    Try and not smile while looking at one of the best players in women's basketball. I dare you. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

12. Danell Leyva

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    The 20-year old gymnast may just dominate in London with superb strength and conditioning, something that helped propel him to the gold in 2011 World Championships. 

    Here he is mocking our own lack of balance and upper-body strength. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

11. Maya Gabeira

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    Maya Gabeira is a professional big-wave surfer. This means she rides gigantic bodies of water that would terrify me, for a living. 

    Consider her one of the more bad asses in a list full of them. 

    What makes her a necessity on our rundown is the photo taken by Francesco Carrozzini. We are taken to another world where 20-pound boards fly among the clouds. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

10. Rob Gronkowski

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    Every year there is one superstar that dominates the buzz up to the release of the Body Issue. Last year it was Hope Solo, but this year belongs to Rob Gronkowski. 

    This picture should be on the Patriots tight end's business cards, because it personifies him perfectly. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

9. Oksana Masters

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    The 2012 Paralympics are back, giving us the perfect moment to highlight the beauty and grandeur of its best competitors. 

    The Paralympic rower tells ESPN that she doesn't have specially designed rowing legs, but the ones she does have cost $100,000 each, making them far too expensive to get wet.

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

8. Abby Wambach

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    Nothing like a little sand, surf and a kicked ball that would take your head clean off. 

    The US Women's National Team can credit a great deal of their success to the form of Abby Wambach, a woman who is a maestro in the box and unrelenting with the ball. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

7. Tyson Chandler

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    The seven-foot Knicks star already made waves with the appearance of his cover, but it seems the insides of the magazine will be just as telling. 

    Somehow I am under the belief this photo was taken from the Janet Jackson music video Love Will Never Do, but I could be wrong. 

    Image Courtesy ESPN. 

6. Anna Tunnicliffe

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    Steven Lippman once again captures the amazing nature of sailing as well as the physique that's demanded to dominate the waves. 

    Tunnicliffe won the gold at Beijing in the Women's Laser Radial class and is ranked 1st in the world for the women's single-handed dinghy. 

    So if you want to know what it takes to be world-class on the ocean, you need to be nearly as chiseled as our friend here. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

5. Tim Morehouse

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    I know little to nothing of the intricacies of the elegant sport of fencing, but that will hardly keep me from watching during the London Games. 

    Morehouse took silver in the Beijing games, and will be aiming for gold in just a few short weeks. As you can see, fencing takes a great deal of lower body strength. 

    The man has the thighs of a running back. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN.

4. Stacy Sykora

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    This image may be a modern marvel but so is the US Women' volleyball player, Stacy Sykora. 

    She explains to ESPN that her accident suffered last year in Brazil put her in a coma, but she is already back to playing international volleyball. 

    Image Courtesy ESPN

3. Daniela Hantuchova

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    Daniela Hantuchova recently bowed out of Wimbledon in the first round after dropping two sets to Jamie Hampton, 4–6, 6–7. 

    The world's No.29 player is not about to let that keep her down. She tells ESPN the following:

    "Talent is one step away from being lazy." I read that when I was 12 and told myself I would do everything could to not let that happen to me.

    The Slovakian tennis star is not one to rest on her laurels, and her brilliant image is one of the best on this list of grand pictures.

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

2. Maurice Jones-Drew

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    This is what it takes to dominate the gridiron, years of work sculpting a near-perfect running back. 

    The Jaguars' star running back has nearly 7,000 yards on his career and thinks rather highly of himself. He tells ESPN the following: 

    I'm a cross between the Hulk and Iron Man. 

    There may be some linebackers who agree. 

    Image Courtesy of ESPN

1. Ronda Rousey

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    Am I the only one who feels like we are taken back to 80's glam rock? 

    Ronda Rousey features in a hypnotic image you will lose yourself in. That may be by design as the judo master has a knack for lulling her prey into a comfort zone. 

    According to MMA Rising, she is the No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound female MMA fighter in the world. 

    We eagerly look forward to the full issue being released on Friday.  

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    Image Courtesy of ESPN