Lists

30 Successful Sports Stars Who Peaked Late

Darren - September 13, 2019
Lists

30 Successful Sports Stars Who Peaked Late

Darren - September 13, 2019
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

14. Randy Couture

It’s crazy to think about this, but Randy Couture didn’t even start MMA until he was 33. Although he would become a household name and one of the most iconic figures in the sport, he was very late to the game. After serving seven years in the US military as well as several years training in Olympic wrestling, Couture finally turned his attention to MMA while coaching at Oregon State University.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

His career has become a thing of legend, as he became the UFC’s first-ever two-weight champion. Couture won both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles while competing in a record 15 title fights along the way. Oh, and by the way, he’s also the oldest UFC champion of all time at the age of 45.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

13. Josh Hamilton

It should come as no surprise that Casey Affleck wants to make a movie about Josh Hamilton because the dude’s life is insane. A first pick in the 1999 draft, it was four years later before Hamilton would actually make his debut for the Cubs after succumbing to drug addiction. As a result, he had to fight his way out of that downward spiral.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Hamilton was briefly clean in 2004 but quickly fell back into his old habits. In 2007 he finally began to show his potential and would next end up with the Rangers. Finally he’d found the place where he could settle and focus on baseball. Incredibly, he’d become a five-time All-Star.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

12. Oscar Swahn

Astonishingly, Swahn is only the second oldest athlete on this list. The Swedish marksman took part in the 1908 London Summer Games when he was 60. His skill with a rifle was as magnificent as his glorious flowing beard. Swahn showed that his eyes definitely weren’t deteriorating with age as he brought home two gold medals.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

Swahn won the Running Deer and Single Shot events, while he’d also help bring home a team bronze in the Running Deer double-shot event. Nope, we don’t know what that means either. But in short, he’s the oldest Olympic gold medallist of all time.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Dikembe Mutombo

These days Dikembe Mutombo is as well known for his humanitarian work as he is for his skills on the basketball court. The former Congolese player was attending Georgetown University with the hope of becoming a doctor when he was roped into playing basketball.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

A natural athlete, he would quickly adapt to the sport and would use his giant stature to physically dominate opponents. Subsequently, he’d end up winning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award four times, and would also become one of the most decorated defensive players of all-time.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Li Na

China’s Li Na was always a decent player who would usually fall short at the final hurdle. It would take her twelve years to win her first Grand Slam singles event in the 2011 French Open. This opened the floodgates, and she’d go on to capture her second and final Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2013. She was 32 at the time.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Na is not just an excellent tennis player, but also a major inspiration for Asian athletes. She proved that they can be successful at the very highest level. The Chinese player would win a total of nine WTA titles throughout her career. In addition, she rose to second in the world rankings.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Steve Nash

If you look up late bloomer in the dictionary, there will probably be a picture of Nash. After a very average career in his twenties, most people thought he’d just fizzle out and disappear. Well, the opposite happened. The NBA star’s best years came in his thirties.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award two years running at ages 31 and 32. The Canadian was a runner-up the following year when he was 33. Nash continued playing until the age of 41 when persistent nerve injuries forced him to call it an illustrious 19-year career.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

8. Fauja Singh

First of all, it’s insane that we are even talking about this man as an athlete. Fauja Singh is a British Sikh marathon runner who also happens to be 108 years young. Yes, you read that right. Above all, Singh is an inspiration, only entering the world of marathon racing when he was 89.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

Ordinarily, most pensioners aren’t running around the place like Singh. This incredible man has set many world records. Singh was the first centenarian to complete a marathon after he set the record in 2013. While he no longer takes part in the long event, usually he will still run each day for his health.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Anthony Davis

The Lakers power forward Anthony Davis is a six-time NBA All-Star as well as an Olympic gold medalist with the US men’s national team. But things might have been very different if he hadn’t of had a ridiculous growth spurt in his high school sophomore year. First of all, he struggled to get any game time because of his height, but then everything changed.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Soon he grew to a massive 6′ 10″, with a wingspan of over seven feet. As a result, he became the target of many scouts and would afterward sign for the Pelicans. Since then his career has gone from strength-to-strength. Finally, Davis was the youngest ever player to score 59 points in an NBA game.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

6. Rocky Marciano

Marciano is a legendary figure in boxing, and that’s why it’s wild to remember that he didn’t even enter the sport until the age of 25. Subsequently, he’d go on to become the heavyweight champion of the world and the only heavyweight champ to retire unbeaten. His reign would continue until he was 32.

Mandatory Credit: Twitter

Marciano was known for his ferocious fighting style as well as his brutal knockout power. Compared to many of his contemporaries, he had a ridiculously durable chin and also a knockout rate of nearly 90%. Now regarded as one of the greatest of all-time, he was a force to be reckoned with.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Randy Johnson

Most athletes peak in their late twenties and early thirties, but now and again, somebody comes along who just totally bucks that trend. That’s where Johnson comes into the equation. Usually, a man of his size wouldn’t prosper as a baseball pitcher, but Johnson blossomed and competed in the MLB for 22 seasons.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

First of all, Johnson didn’t make it to the Majors until the age of 25. That’s quite late but it actually helped him perfect his game. The former Mariners star had a pitching speed of 100 mph. Incidentally, this 6′ 10″ giant played until the age of 46 and is now a Hall of Famer.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Megan Rapinoe

2019 was definitely the year of Megan Rapinoe. Of course, it’s not totally true to say it that she’s a late bloomer in terms of talent, but you could definitely say so about her fame. The 34-year-old captained the USWNT to World Cup glory, and as a result, became an international sports icon.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Her bright purple hair and fearless attitude towards the political issues of the day, combined with her abilities on the pitch certainly made her stand out. It seems like Rapinoe’s fame is here to stay, even though it came in the twilight of her athletic career. The two-time World Cup winner also took home the Golden Ball award this year.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Tim Duncan

It’s crazy to think that Duncan always wanted to be an Olympic swimmer. Instead, he became an elite basketball player. Duncan hailed from Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands and spent his early years trying to become a top US competitor. But then Hurricane Hugo came along and destroyed his team’s pool.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Most people would probably give up then, but not Duncan. He turned to basketball in high school and would go on to grow nine inches. Next, he’d win Player of the Year during his senior year at Wake Forest. As a result, Duncan was signed by the San Antonio Spurs. He is regarded as arguably the greatest power forward in NBA history.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Kurt Warner

If you know anything about Kurt Warner, you won’t be surprised he’s considered the greatest undrafted NFL player of all-time. His late bloom is a classic story in football history. First of all, he was passed over in the draft in 1994. Later, he’d play in the Arena Football League. Finally, in 1998 he got his chance with the St. Louis Rams.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Warner was third string for a year, so he’d never have expected what happened next. When Rams starting quarterback Trent Green got injured in the preseason before the 1999 year, Warner was there to save the day. He would go on to throw 41 TDS and 4,353 yards while helping the Rams to win Super Bowl XXIV. As a result, he’d pick up both the league MVP and Super Bowl MVP awards at 28 years old.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Deontay Wilder

The WBC heavyweight champion of the world only entered the sport of boxing because of his daughter. Wilder started boxing when he was 20 years old and would go on to become an Olympic bronze medalist. In 2015, the Alabama native became the first American heavyweight champion in nine years, so he’s definitely worthy of a place on this list.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

“The Bronze Bomber” looks set to fight Tyson Fury in a rematch if he can get past the dangerous threat of Luis Ortiz first. With 40 knockout wins in 42 fights, he’s probably the most frightening power puncher on the planet today. Above all, Wilder’s career proves good things can come late.

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