Sport has given a lot to Africa and vice versa. While the continent is yet to fully take advantage of some disciplines, some individuals from Africa have already taken the lead.
I’m talking about Africans who have blazed the trail in various sporting disciplines and have emerged as legends.
Whether football, athletics or boxing, some Africans are widely regarded among the greats and they deserve to be celebrated.
For this reason, let’s take a look at five Africans who attained legendary status in sports:
Now a days, former Liberia international George Weah is into politics and is currently the President of his country.
However, some years ago, he was one of the best players on the surface of the earth. Not only was he skilled and talented with the ball to his feet, he was equally influential off it.
Weah’s illustrious career saw him play for the likes of AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City, and he remains the only African footballer to have been able to scoop the FIFA Best Player award and the Ballon d’Or.
As far as long distance runners go, Africa cannot recount the history of the sport without Kipchoge Keino’s name popping up.
The Kenyan was a national and international champion, dominating various competitions throughout the 1960s.
Keino won gold medals at the All-Africa Games in 1965 and repeated another gold-medal winning performance at the Commonwealth Games.
Currently the President of the Kenyan Olympic Committee, the man popularly called “Kip” retired from his athletics career as a two-time Olympic gold-medallist.
Africa has produced some amazing female sprinters over the years, but very few have managed to make an impact like Maria Mutola.
The woman from Mozambique sprung to stardom at the age of just 15, when she emerged fifth at the 1988 Summer Olympics.
Two years later, and at the age of just 17, Maria upset the odds to win gold at the African Championships.
She was undoubtedly the queen of the 800m women’s event, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest female 800m athletes of her generation.
Very few have had an impact in boxing like Azuma Nelson did. Forget about him coming from Africa, Azuma was a global icon.
In the ring, he has fierce, daunting and ruthless against his opponents. In a career that spanned over a decade, the Ghanaian rose to become a world champion.
One of the notable feats of the 61-year-old was holding the WBC Featherweight title from 1984 to 1987, as well as the WBC super-featherweight title twice between 1988 and 1997.
Azumah inspired a new generation of boxers in Ghana and across Africa and his place in the boxing hall of fame typifies his impact in the sport.
The word legendary is quite synonymous with Haile Gebrselassie. For what it’s worth, some even believe his achievements supersede such a superlative.
The Ethiopian has completely dominated long-distance track contests and remains one of the most honoured athletes in history.
To put some perspective on the kind of superhuman we are describing, Gebrselassie at a point held over 60 Ethiopian national records and also 27 world records.
In his prime, Gebrselassie won the Berlin Marathon four times in succession and went ahead of break his own records.