The 10 Greatest Post 40-year-old Athletes
Randy Couture. The resume says it all:
One key factor to remember that Randy started competing in MMA at age 34, so the majority of these accomplishments didn't actually come about till he was already into his 40's.
Who could forget his epic defeat of Tim Sylvia at the age of 43 (UFC 68)?
I had goose bumps as I watched him enter the Octagon at UFC 91 against a monster of man named Brock Lesnar having just turned 45 years old earlier in the year.
And now we have this weekend. Once again it will be Randy Couture stepping up to the challenge which will finally answer the question of which sport is better : MMA or Boxing?
You have to wonder how he does it though. Every fight he keeps getting stronger and comes in to a fight with the same determination that he had as a much younger man.
This piece is in honor of not only Randy but many other athletes who have pushed the envelope when it comes to their competing time, and defied the odds.
Let us honor these men and women, for they show us that age is truly just a number.
# 10 - Richard Petty - NASCAR
“ The King” competed in NASCAR races till the age of 47. Winning the Daytona 500 seven times qualifies him to be the perfect start on this list.
# 9 - George Blanda - Football
George Blanda was a jack of all trades who played professional football well into his 40’s.During his long 26 year career he was able to accomplish the following:
- First player in the NFL to score 2,000 points
- Holds the record for the longest pro career
- Is the only pro baller to play in four different decades beginning in the 1940’s
# 8 - Roger Clemens - Baseball
Forget about all the controversies for a second.
The man they call “The Rocket” is still regarded as one of the greatest pitchers of all time.
After turning 40, Clemens played for five years. During that time he won 61 games, had over 750 strike outs, and had an ERA of 1.87.
Yes could PED’s been a contributing factor to his longevity? Maybe. But the bottom line is that those pitches didn’t throw themselves.
# 7 - Satchel Paige - Baseball
“How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?”
This quote by the great Satchel Paige defines why he’s on this list. Imagine playing most of your career in the Negro leagues and then getting drafted to play professionally at age 42, what kind of sayings would you come up with?
# 6 - Jack Nicklaus - Golf
It’s hard to be an original.
Sometimes you don’t realize the significance of your impact till much, much later in life. Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer in history period. Sorry Tiger.
Nicklaus is the man that Woods is chasing from a legacy and record stand point. That’s the equivalent of the way that Kobe chases MJ’s accomplishments.
The Golden Bear’s dedication to excellence continued well into his forties and helped him earn a final major championship at the age of 46, becoming that championship's oldest winner.
# 5 - Dara Torres - Swimming
Olympic swimmer Dara Torres is a testament to what you can do with the right attitude. At age 41, Torres was making an attempt to join the national team to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Summer Olympics .
With numerous factors like age, missing the previous Olympics( which are only held every 4 years), and the pressures of raising a young daughter, most women would not have been able to handle such a task, but Dara was not only able to accept the challenge, but she excelled.
In Bejing, Torres was able to bring home multiple Olympic medals which is unheard of for a person her age.
# 4 - Jerry Rice - Football
Jerry Rice was the pinnacle of grace and class as a player in the NFL. During his days with the San Francisco, he and Joe Montana were the perfect Quarterback - Reciever tandem.
Rice had great speed, soft hands, and was able to run routes what would frustrate even the greatest defensive backs.
With all this ability, you would think that once Rice hit his late 30’s he would consider his retirement options right? Think again.
After playing nearly his entire career with the 49ers, he moved on to the Oakland Raiders in 2000. At age 38, he was staring over on a new team and in a new system; for many this would result in a heavy decline. However, Jerry Rice is not any ordinary player.
For the next 4 seasons Rice was able to make solid contributions to the team well after he turned 40. This is why he’s considered by many as the greatest wide receiver of all time.
# 3 - Nolan Ryan - Baseball
Playing for an MLB record 27 seasons, means that you have to be pretty good right? Well Nolan Ryan was one of the best that ever did it.
Pitching for four different teams throughout his career, Ryan amassed a record that will be difficult if not impossible to surpass. Here are just a few of his accomplishments:
- 8 All Star Selections
- 1 World Series Championship
- Only baseball player to ever have his jersey retired by three different teams.
- Only player to pitch 7 no - hitters
It was not only the fact that Ryan was a stats machine, he was able to amass most of these stats well after he turned 40. Plus the fact that he was able to beat up a much younger Robin Ventura during a scrap makes him just plain awesome.
# 2 - George Foreman - Boxing
The man who today resembles a 260 pound ginger bread man with his quick pitchman smile was not always this way. Over 30 years ago Foreman went to war with Muhammad Ali and put Smokin’ Joe Frazier to sleep with his jaw crunching power.
After a brief stint in retirement, Foreman tried to make a comeback in the late 80’s to prove that turning 40 was just a number and didn’t mean that your life was over.
As he slowly began trying to get back into fight shape through a string of tune up fights, he started racking up wins which allowed him to take on then champion Evander Holyfield at age 42.
While he lost the fight, he was able to take the champ all 12 rounds earning the respect and admiration of critics and fans.
What places this grill pitching maven at the # 2 spot on this list is that at age 45 he was able to take on another highly touted champion named Michael Moorer in 1994.
As a serious underdog, he was supposed to have no shot against a fighter nearly 20 years younger; but you can never count a fighter out, even Big George.
While trailing on all judge’s cards throughout the entire fight, Foreman was able to land a key knockout shot to Moorer’s chin in the tenth round which made him the oldest boxer to win a Heavyweight championship.
# 1 - Gordie Howe - Hockey
Hockey needs to get more respect.
Think about it, It’s basically a hybrid of soccer and American football. With such high speeds on the ice and hard crashes into the boards, it’s one of the toughest sports you could play and Gordie Howe was one of the toughest around.
With stats like 23 NHL All -Star appointments, 4 Stanley Cup Championships, & an induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, these are some of the just basics of this hockey legend.
What makes “Mr.Hockey” so great was that he was playing well past his 40’s on a level that most players half his age could only dream of.
In his final season with the Detroit Red Wings, at age 51, Howe signed on for one final season playing in all 80 games of the regular season schedule and helped his team make the playoffs with fifteen goals.
How many AARP members do you know who can do that?