In sport sometimes size really does matter. With enough talent, hard work and dedication, a regular-sized athlete can make it to the top of their game. But on occasion they will go up against other competitors whose physical gifts simply boggle the mind. Because there are certain sports in which being super tall, super heavy or super jacked will carry you pretty far, and these 40 examples certainly fall into that category.
40. John Daly
Golfer John Daly’s nickname is “The Wild Thing” and it’s easy to see why. Despite people in his line of work usually being pretty trim, Daly has been the opposite. A health scare in 2020 forced him to look at his lifestyle, though. It had previously included a 40-per-day cigarette habit, along with 28 cans of Diet Coke and a lot of alcohol. At his heaviest, he weighed 265 pounds.
39. Eric “Butterbean” Esch
A generation of fans will likely know rotund boxer Eric “Butterbean” Esch from his appearances in WWE in the late 1990s. But he also built up some notoriety for the time he knocked out Johnny Knoxville in Jackass: The Movie. The 400 pound Butterbean was known as the “King of the 4 Rounders,” given how quickly he tended to knock his opponents out.
38. André the Giant
André René Roussimoff weighed a massive 13 pounds at birth, which is the average weight of a four-month-old. By the time he became a worldwide pro-wrestling icon, he stood at 7 feet 4 inches tall. At his heaviest, he reportedly weighed 550 pounds. A giant inside and outside the ring, he transcended wrestling and became a movie star when he played Fezzik in 1987’s The Princess Bride.
37. Peter Crouch
At 6 feet 7, the beanpole-thin Peter Crouch looked unique on a soccer pitch. Despite the former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur striker actually having an excellent scoring record in his Premier League career, he was always an expert at self-deprecating humor. His best quotes include, “I think I was 5 feet 9 inches at birth,” and “I don’t have any tattoos, but that’s mainly because none of my limbs are wide enough to support a visible image.”
36. William “The Refrigerator” Perry
In 2017 former Chicago Bears footballer Shaun Gayle told Sky Sports about the origin of his old teammate William “The Refrigerator” Perry’s moniker. Of the man who weighed 340 pounds during the 1986 NFL season, he said, “His nickname came from the university that he attended, there was a photograph taken of William sitting next to a refrigerator. He was so big that he blocked it out of the picture.”
35. Jorge “Giant” González
In 1993 The Undertaker came up against a gargantuan threat unlike anything he had faced before in the WWE: Giant González. This monstrous wrestler was billed as 8 feet tall, although in reality Jorge González was 7 feet 7. Which is still enormous, obviously. WWE made the Argentinian former-basketball player wear a bodysuit with airbrushed muscles and fake body hair, rather than simply letting his own physique and height speak for itself. Weird.
34. Konishiki Yasokichi
Japanese-Samoan sumo wrestler Konishiki Yasokichi was the heaviest sumo of all time, weighing an incredible 633 pounds at his heaviest. This helped earn him the nickname “The Dump Truck.” Yasokichi, who was born in Hawaii, was the first wrestler born outside of Japan to attain the second-best ranking in the sport: ōzeki.
33. Andy Fordham
Andy Fordham is an English darts player who, at the height of his prowess, was known as “The Viking” due to his distinctive long hair and beard. At one point in his career he weighed a mammoth 434 pounds, which unfortunately endangered his health. In 2008 it was revealed that he had lost 238 pounds after quitting drinking; he had previously admitted to sinking 24 cans of beer before his matches. Wow!
32. Ronnie Coleman
A man believed to be the best bodybuilder in history, Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia competition a record eight times. That’s one more win than even the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger managed. The 2018 documentary Ronnie Coleman: The King included footage of him deadlifting 800 pounds, which is an almost superhuman feat of strength.
31. Stefan Struve
Getting into a cage to fight another man is a terrifying proposition at the best of times. But just imagine staring at the 7 foot tall Dutchman Stefan Struve, known as “The Skyscraper.” That’s got to be intimidating, even before you look at his win-loss record of 29-13. He even managed to win his first nine fights while his heart was working at half capacity due to a leaking aortic valve. Astounding.
30. Gheorghe Muresan
The NBA is a land of giants, so it truly means something that Romanian Gheorghe Muresan was the tallest player to ever ply his trade in the league. Standing an incredible 7 feet 7 inches, “Big Ghiță” had a career that was cut short by injuries, but he left a lasting impression due to his personality and popularity with fans. He even made a hilarious appearance in an Eminem music video.
29. Big Show
Paul “Big Show” Wight is arguably the most successful big man in pro-wrestling history. The 7 foot tall behemoth is a four-time World Champion in WWE and also won the World title twice in WCW, where he was initially introduced as André the Giant’s son. Rightly, this aspect of his character was swiftly abandoned. As an actor he recently appeared in Happy! and had his own Netflix sitcom entitled The Big Show Show.
28. Amazon Eve
Erika Ervin, professionally known as Amazon Eve, is known as the tallest model on planet Earth. The statuesque 6 feet 8 inch Ervin has also worked as a fitness trainer and actress, appearing in American Horror Story: Freak Show. In 2010 Ervin told Daily Mail Online, “All the women in my family are tall.” And she revealed she wears a lady’s size 14 shoe, which makes appropriate footwear hard to come by.
27. Randy Johnson
Six foot 10 inch baseball pitcher Randy Johnson was nicknamed “The Big Unit” during his career, and it was an apt moniker. Unlike most large athletes, his height wasn’t helpful to him on the field. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 2015, he said that shorter people have less of their body to keep under control when throwing a ball, so it’s easier for them. Who knew?
26. Margo Dydek
The tallest athlete to ever play in the Women’s NBA, Margo Dydek stood 7 feet 2 inches tall. She held the record for the most blocks in a career. In fact, between 1998 and 2007, 2004 was the only year in which she didn’t lead the league in blocks. She died, sadly, in 2011 at the age of 37, leaving behind a legacy of WNBA excellence.
25. Jan Koller
Jan Koller was a monster on the soccer pitch. At 6 feet 8 inches, he was significantly taller than most other players, and he had a commanding physique to match. “Dino,” as he was dubbed by his teammates as a youth player, became the Czech Republic national side’s all-time top goalscorer, netting an impressive 55 times in 91 games.
24. Yao Ming
Chinese basketball star Yao Ming was so enormous that, when he stood next to the 7 foot 1 inch Shaquille O’Neal, he made him look like a regular-sized man. When Ming played in the NBA, he was the tallest player in the league at an incredible 7 feet 6 inches. But in 2011 he was unfortunately forced to retire because of repeated injuries to his left foot.
23. Blanka Vlasic
Croatian high-jumper Blanka Vlasic was named after the city of Casablanca in Morocco, which is where her decathlete father Josko took part in the Mediterranean Games. She followed in her dad’s footsteps and in 2009 recorded a new Croatian record with a jump of 2.08 meters. That same year the 6 foot 4 inch fashion fan told the BBC that she wished she had smaller feet, so she could wear a more extensive variety of shoes.
22. Richard Metcalfe
Richard Metcalfe was the tallest international rugby player in world history. Measuring a gargantuan 7 feet, he played for his homeland of Scotland and also for the Northampton Saints and Newcastle Falcons. His position was second-row forward, and he had a certain advantage over his opponents in that position. Namely, he was at least six inches taller than them!
21. Lisa Leslie
Lisa Leslie is one of the most famous WNBA athletes of all time. The 6 feet 5 inch baller became the first ever woman to score a slam dunk in 2002. She has worked in modelling and acting since her basketball career came to an end but had also modelled as a child. She told the Star Telegraph, “I did my first fashion show when I was 11. It took off from there. I was already a 6-footer at the time…”. Wow.
20. Aaron Sandilands
In 2019 Aaron Sandilands was forced to call time on his illustrious Aussie Rules Football career. At 6 feet 11 inches, he was at one time the tallest player in the AFL, and he ended his career with the league’s all-time high number of hit-outs. With remarkable honesty, he revealed his body simply couldn’t keep up with the demands of the game anymore.
19. Mohammed Irfan
Before Mohammed Irfan came along, the tallest cricketers in history were Australian Bruce Reid and West Indian Joel Garner, who were both 6 feet 8 inches. Irfan towered over them, though, clocking it at 7 feet 1 inches. Due to his immense size, the Pakistani international once revealed that he had to eat every two hours and needed to drink a lot of milk.
18. Suleiman Ali Nashnush
Suleiman Ali Nashnush was the tallest athlete ever to compete in sport. One of only 17 people on the planet to be registered at 8 feet tall or more, Nashnush played for the Libyan national basketball team. He died in 1991, and there is no footage of him playing, but it is believed that he hadn’t quite reached his full height when he played ball. He was a mere 7 feet 10 inches then!
17. Nikolai Valuev
The 7 foot Nikolai Valuev was the biggest and heaviest world champion in boxing history. Nicknamed “The Beast from the East,” the massive fighter was called, “big, hairy and ugly” and, “a circus freak show” by David Haye before their World Title bout. Valuev retired three days after losing that fight. He was reportedly a sensitive soul who struggled with his media perception, saying, “People sometimes do not treat me like a human being.”
16. Dane De La Rosa
In April 2013 Dane De La Rosa began playing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team. At 6 feet 7 inches and weighing 245 pounds, his physicality set him apart from most other people on the field. After only a few months of play, De La Rosa threw a fastball that measured 98 miles per hour, which is an incredible velocity to achieve.
15. Hafthor Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson
Picture the scene. You’re playing basketball in Iceland in the mid-2000s and onto the court strides Hafthor Júlíus Björnsson. The 6 foot 9, 400 pound behemoth is your opponent. This horrifying scenario actually befell people between 2004 and 2008 when Björnsson, these days known as “The Mountain” in Game of Thrones, played pro-ball. The preposterously large Björnsson also recently deadlifted 1,104 pounds at a gym in his homeland, a new world record.
14. Holley Mangold
Before she competed for the United States at the London Olympics in 2012, 5 feet 8 weightlifter Holley Mangold tipped the scales at a huge 350 pounds. Her personal record is a lift of 562.2 pounds, over 200 pounds more than she weighs. That’s bonkers. In 2015 she got her first tattoo and went all out by having the Olympic rings emblazoned on the side of her head. That’s even more bonkers.
13. Zdeno Chara
Zdeno “Big Z” Chara is both the tallest person to ever play in the NHL and the league’s current oldest player at 43-years-old. At 6 feet 9, the giant Slovak had to get a special dispensation from the league to have his hockey stick specially made to be longer. The usual league limit for length is 63 inches, but Chara’s clocks in at 67.
12. Jon Rauch
The tallest player in Major League Baseball history, Jon Rauch was 6 feet 11 inches of pure pitching power. He played for seven teams over the course of 11 seasons in the league and also won an Olympic Gold medal for baseball at the Sydney games in 2000. And when he smashed a home run in 2004, he became the tallest player in the league to do so.
11. Dondre Harris
John Fulks, the football coach at Essex High School in Virginia, met the 7 foot tall, 375 pound Dondre Harris when he was in eighth grade. Fulks told Bleacher Report that he was simply stunned by Harris’ size. He said, “I’ve never seen or coached anyone like him. That’s one of the biggest human beings you will ever see.” Harris went on to play college football for Fairmont State in West Virginia.
10. Gogea Mitu
Gogea Mitu was appropriately known as the “Giant of Romania.” He was listed at various heights between 7 feet 9 inches and 8 feet 2, but what was for certain was that he was insanely tall. He competed in two professional boxing matches in 1935 and won both by knockout, before tragically dying of tuberculosis in 1936 at only 26-years-old.
9. Sun Mingming
In 2014 Dwayne Johnson posted a photograph on Twitter that shocked the world. It showed the 6 feet 5 WWE superstar-turned-Hollywood icon standing next to an enormous basketballer who totally dwarfed him in size. Johnson tweeted, “7 feet 9 inch Sun Mingming, one of the tallest players ever. Great dude and a helluva miniature golfer.” Now retired, Mingming was previously the tallest player in the world.
8. Emmanuel “Tiny” Yarbrough
Affectionately known by the nickname “Tiny,” the 6 feet 7 Emmanuel Yarbrough was an American sumo wrestling legend who became the World Amateur Sumo Champion. At his heaviest, he weighed an incredible 828 pounds. Plus he was the largest person ever to compete in UFC, when he weighed around 600 pounds. Yarbrough also acted, appearing as Clarence Seroy in the HBO prison drama Oz.
7. Ivo Karlovic
At 6 feet 11 inches, Ivo Karlovic is a tennis giant. And he holds the record for aces struck: 13,619 over the course of 688 matches. Plus he once held the record for the fastest serve ever, at 156 miles per hour, until it was broken in 2016. Karlovic has seen incredible longevity in his career, despite suffering back and knee troubles due to his height.
6. Lennox Lewis
Three-time heavyweight boxing World Champion Lennox Lewis was a physical specimen at 6 feet 5 inches tall and 245 pounds in weight. Out of 44 fights, he won 41, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. His only draw was against Evander Holyfield, who he beat in the rematch. And his two losses were subsequently avenged too. This means he scored victories over every opponent he ever faced. Wow.
5. Shaun “Chunks” Rogers
Detroit Lions running back Adrian Peterson was asked which NFL player hit the hardest during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in 2013. His answer? Shaun “Chunks” Rogers. Looking at Rogers, this makes perfect sense, as the 6 feet 4, 350 pound mastodon was a sight to behold on the field. He also possessed incredible athleticism, once recording a 40-yard sprint in 5.3 seconds.
4. Mariusz Pudzianowski
Mariusz Pudzianowski’s body is akin to that of a comic book superhero or supervillain. Standing 6 feet 1 inches, he’s not hugely tall, but his Herculean physique is incredible. He won the World’s Strongest Man competition a record five times before transitioning to Mixed Martial Arts. His record for the latter wasn’t half-bad: 13 wins, 7 losses and 1 no contest in 21 matches.
3. The Great Khali
The Great Khali was the first Indian wrestler in history to win the World Heavyweight Championship in WWE. At 7 feet 1, it’s no wonder Vince McMahon pushed him to the main event between 2006 and 2014. Because, after all, he made the other giants look small. Movie fans may also recognize him from his appearances in movies Get Smart and The Longest Yard.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
“Shaq” as he was affectionately known by fans, was a force of nature in the NBA. At 7 feet 1 inches tall and weighing a massive 325 pounds, he was one of the largest players in basketball history. “The Big Aristotle” also wound up becoming a celebrity outside the sport, due to his insightful, yet fun, personality and his willingness to try his hand at acting, music, and pro-wrestling.
1. Nataliya Kuznetsova
Russian bodybuilder Nataliya Kuznetsova is 5 feet 6 inches of pure, unadulterated muscle. And in 2014 she set new world records for bench pressing and armlifting. Weighing 225 pounds, she is known as “Amazonka” and is a household name in her homeland. She told Daily Mail Online in 2019, “I am already used to fame and lots of people recognize me on the street.”