Each decade has a group of famous athletes whose excellence in their sport makes them some of the most recognized celebrities of their time, so if athletes of the past interest you, check out this list of the 10 most famous athletes in 1960. While having a big personality helps athletes turn into celebrities, sports remain one of the only true meritocracies in the world. Our sports heroes, with only a handful of exceptions over the years, tend to be those who dominate in their sport, and reinvent the game.
- Muhammad Ali/Cassius Clay. Ali combined dominance in his sport and an obscene amount of bravado to become one of the most famous athletes of all time. Ali began his professional career in 1960, as Cassius Clay, but converted to Islam and changed his name in 1964.
- Jim Brown. Jim Brown is quite possible the greatest athlete ever. He was a multi-sport star in college, but his NFL career is second to none. He only played nine years, but made the Pro Bowl every year, and was a three-time MVP, in 1957, 1958 and 1965.
- Mickey Mantle. Being the most famous athlete on the New York Yankess meant you were the most famous athletes in the world. Mantle racked up a ridiculous 20 All-Star selections, seven Championships and three AL MVP awards.
- Arnold Palmer. Palmer was the player of the year in 1960 and 1962, to go along with seven major victories. With wins in both America and Britain, Palmer became an international celebrity, and continued to be long after he retired from the tour.
- Wilma Rudolph. Wilma Rudolph broke onto the national scene with three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, which were also the first televised Olympics. She was the United Press’s Athlete of the Year in 1960, and the AP Woman Athlete of the Year in 1960 and 1961.
- Johnny Unitas. Unitas is known as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. While leading the Colts to two World Championships and one Super Bowl, he was a 10-time Pro Bowler and three-time MVP.
- Bill Russell. Bill Russell was the key that started Boston’s amazing championship run in the 1960's. Between 1957 and 1969, Russell led the team to ten championships, along with five MVP awards for himself.
- Willie Mays. Mays was a dominant player through all of the 1950's and 1960's, racking up 24 All Star selections and two MVP awards. Mays also started appearing as a guest star in television sitcoms during the 1960's.
- Wilt Chamberlin. Wilt Chamberlin was one of the greatest players in NBA history. He was a 13-time all star, including every year in the 1960's. He was also a 4-time MVP and a 7-time scoring champion.
- Gordie Howe. The man known as "Mr Hockey" was in the prime of his almost four-decade career during the 1960's. He was one of the most famous athletes in hockey history and a 23-time all star.
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