Athletes Who Changed the planet for the Better

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It is an argument as old as sport itself: should professional athletes use their waiting in the public eye to further cause which are close to their heart or should sport remain separate from the political and social fluxes going on in the world?

Many modern day sportsmen and women tend to decide to the latter, keeping their heads underneath the parapet as they go about trying to make probably the most of a career that could be ended at any time by injury or controversy.

However, there are those special few who finalise that winning is not enough. You will find those who realize that what the history books truly remember is not the number of W's you have beneath your name, but how you went about getting them.

This is an homage to the athletes of both past and offer who realized that sport might be a force for good, rather than just a distraction made to propagate the status quo.

Taking a knee has taken on a whole new meaning.

Colin Kaepernick

Be in without doubt, when the dust settles Colin Kaepernick will be remembered as a hero, one that dared defy those infinitely stronger than he, at great personal expense and sacrifice, to simply better the lives of strangers.

All he may have done was take a knee, but just like all those who have gone before him, he realised that simply taking a stand could be the foundation around which change can be built.

It remains to be seen just how profound an impact his famous knee protest may have in Washington and further afield, but Kaepernick indicates sportsmen that there's so much more alive than just lifting trophies and feigning deference to sponsors and flags.

For so many reasons Muhammad Ali's name will survive forever

Muhammad Ali

Like so many characters in boxing, Muhammad Ali was an enigma, willing to take money on offer from questionable regimes all over the world throughout his career, whilst standing up for what he truly believed in.

This culminated in him doing a stint in prison, which deprived boxing fans of seeing him float just like a butterfly and sting like a bee in the prime. None of that stopped him becoming The best, a title he holds even today despite other boxers boasting superior records.

For a guy renowned for doling out punishment in the ring, he showed that even a boxer could make a huge impact on the world by laying down his arms and surrendering himself to peace.

Billie Jean King

Tennis is among the foremost hotbeds for feminism in sport, using the likes of the Williams sisters, Martina Navrátilová as well as Andy Murray doing great things to make sure that equality between the sexes prevails.

The athlete who really kickstarted the conversation was American Billie Jean King who literally took the fight to misogyny when she clashed with Bobby Riggs within the renowned Battle of the Sexes match. In beating Riggs, King showed men that women were a lot more than capable of being their equal. The drama all around the game has since been turned into a Hollywood movie.

Jackie Robinson

If NFL fans are viewed as a tough crowd for a black player to make an impression on, then the MLB crowds within the post war era were a raging fire bowl.

Jackie Robinson knew all too well that winning alone wouldn't be enough to win the majority over, but he did a pretty good job of it anyway, winning the planet Series once in a Hall of Fame career. He paved the path that all other black baseball athletes tread.

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