The Most Outrageously Large Athletes To Ever Perform

Athletes | 3/4/24

Which athlete runs the fastest, scores the most points, or holds a record is typically how they are viewed. While they are often celebrated for freakish abilities, attention is rarely focused on how large many of them are, but it should be more top of mind.

Worldwide, men and women are competing in sports that involve agility, skills, and talents with above-average size in height and weight. In this article are some of the most absurdly sized competitors that may not have initially caught your eyes, but they will now.

Andre the Giant - 6' 9", 520lbs

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Andre the Giant was someone who deserved his stage name. The former professional wrestler from France stood at an enormous six feet, nine inches and weighed over five hundred pounds. Debates rage about the sport's authenticity, but Andre's massive frame standing in the ring, staring intimidatingly at opponents, was live and present to them.

Born Andre René Roussimoff, the gentle behemoth had a rare medical condition that produced an abnormal amount of hormones evident in his deep voice and hands that could palm the face of anyone foolish enough to take him on.

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Holley Mangold - 5' 8", 350lbs

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At first glance at professional weightlifter Holley Mangold, those unaware of her occupation may get the wrong idea based on her appearance out of uniform. Mangold's five-foot, eight-inch, 300-pound plus body presents images of shows like The Biggest Loser rather than an Olympic athlete.

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Imagine the shock when people learn Mangold did both. Weighing approximately 350 pounds, she competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Mangold appeared on the popular television series The Biggest Loser in 2013 and failed to last past the seventh episode.

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Konishiki Yasokichi - 6' 1/2", 633lbs

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Massive sumo wrestlers are part of the sport's allure, but ones like Konishiki Yasokichi break the mold by artfully blending their girth with impressive athleticism. The gladiator tipped the scales at 633 pounds in his prime, making it easy to see how his nickname "The Dump Truck" aptly applies.

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Yasokichi won the top division championship three times in his career and is the heaviest sumo in history. The Hawaiian native was the first non-Japanese wrestler to reach the second-highest level in the sport known as ōzeki.

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Hafthor Julius "Thor" Bjornsson - 6' 9", 400lbs

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Any competitor in sports nicknamed "Thor" like Hafthor Julius Bjornsson leaves little to the imagination of how they earned it. His height of six feet and nine inches of a 400-pound body are impressive and worthy of his followers, while he competed in competitions like the World's Strongest Man.

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After strong-man competitions seemed to bore him, Bjornsson caught the acting bug and surprised nobody with his seamless transition into the industry on the HBO hit series The Game of Thrones as the character known as "The Mountain."

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Gheorghe Muresan - 7' 7", 303lbs

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Basketball players like former NBA center Gheorghe Muresan standing at heights of seven feet and above was commonplace. Seeing ones that could touch the rim without jumping with ball-handling and shooting skills typically found in shorter players.

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Muresan, a native of Romania, remains the league's tallest player ever. During his career, few came close to his outstanding height, standing an inch taller than his nearest competition, Manute Bol from Sudan. A lack of championships did not deter the giant from capitalizing on his tall frame by acting in films like My Giant with Billy Crystal.

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Andy Fordham - 6', 400lbs

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A coin toss might have to decide if former English Darts player Andy Fordham inspired shock with his weight of 400 pounds or how well he competed in the sport, reaching its highest levels. Known as "The Viking," Fordham won the World Masters in 1999 and 2004.

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Fordham peaked at 434 pounds at one point, which started negatively affecting him. Health issues began to surface because he was overweight, according to his doctors, who advised him to lose the extra weight to save his life. He lost over 200 pounds, but it returned shortly.

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Randy Johnson - 6' 10", 225lbs

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Tall pitchers in MLB, like Randy Johnson, were not abnormal to see, but few possessed his dominance. The former lanky hurler nicknamed "The Big Unit, stood atop the pitching mound at six foot ten, striking out batters for 22 seasons.

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The infamous left-hander is alone in second place on the MLB record books with the 4,875 strikeouts amassed throughout his long career. Johnson played for teams like the Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees, and Arizona Diamondbacks before retiring in January 2010.

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Ronnie Coleman - 5' 11", 300lbs

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The enormity of professional bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman is two-fold because of his ridiculously chiseled body and unmatched athletic prowess. Coleman holds the record of eight Mr. Olympia titles, one more than a familiar face to bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who retired with seven.

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Coleman weighed 300 pounds and deadlifted 800 pounds as if he were picking up bags of groceries. The intense training and the superhuman strength which resulted had a heavy toll on Coleman's body. After several medical procedures for the numerous injuries, Coleman may never walk again.

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Aaron Sandilands - 6' 11", 265lbs

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Australian Rules Football is defined by its physicality, but candidly, Aaron Sandilands is larger than the sport. Sandilands' six-feet, eleven-inch physique also was deceptively quick for a man weighing as much as 265 pounds at his peak weight.

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Strangers to the soft nature of the gigantic Aussie footballer will be surprised to know that even though he was built like a battle tank and as tall as one, Sandilands did not run around recklessly with intentions of hitting and injuring opponents. Twice, Sandilands was voted the Fremantle Football Club's best and fairest player in 2009 and 2015.

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Lisa Leslie - 6' 5", 170lbs

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Former WNBA basketball star Lisa Leslie, standing at six-foot-five inches, was not the tallest female athlete ever, but the list of her accomplishments and accolades is only matched by her startling height. Leslie began the league's inaugural season as their first to dunk in a game.

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After retiring, Leslie's resume boasts four gold medals in Women's Olympic basketball, winning the 2001 Sportswoman of the Year Award, two WNBA championships, two Finals MVP awards, and she won the league's MVP award in 2001, 2004, and 2006.

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Suleiman Ali Nashnush - 8', 290lbs

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Suleiman Ali Nashnush, a former Libyan basketball player and actor, could take the crown and his place on the throne if there were a formal award for the tallest athlete ever. Although Nashnush never played ball taller than seven feet, ten inches, his height did peak at eight feet tall.

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His unusual height was the product of a unique growth disorder, but the condition was eliminated by a specialized surgery performed on Nashnush. The jumbo thespian acted most notably in the 1969 Fellini film Satyricon.

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Aaron Judge - 6' 7", 280 lb

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Outfielder and baseball masher Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees used every bit of his 6'7", 280 pounds to smash records on the diamond and at the bank. After his 2022 season ended with much speculation surrounding his pending contract, Judge was signed by the Yankees to a nine-year, $360 million deal.

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Judge hit 62 home runs in 2022, breaking the 61-year-old American League record previously held by Roger Maris, and added the MVP that season to earn his mega-deal months later. The Yankees made Judet the team's captain that year as the cherry on top.

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Troy "Escalade" Jackson - 6' 10", 375lbs

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Nothing more needs to be proven about former basketball player Troy "Escalade" Jackson and his astounding largeness once you realize he was nicknamed after the popular Cadliac SUV. At six feet ten inches tall, 375 lb at his heaviest, Jackson was infamous for having the speed and athleticism of a man many pounds lighter.

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Jackson rose to prominence as an urban legend in the sport for his days playing in the AND1 Mixtape Tour. Jackson developed a fan following on the level of an NBA superstar but reached his status by playing on tour for only two seasons with Louisville.

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Peter Crouch - 6' 7", 165lbs

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Soccer players are typically average height, but Peter Crouch did not get that memo. The six-foot-seven-inch footballer from England towers above most of his opponents because most are six feet and under in height. Stars like Messi and Ronaldo are five-foot-seven-inches and six-foot-two, respectively.

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Crouch was never athletically limited by his superior height. In his career with the English National Team at center, Crouch scored 22 goals between 2005 and 2010 for his native land. Crouch also participated in two World Cups.

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Aleksey Kazakov - 7' 2", 246lbs

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Volleyball is one of the only sports in which an athlete as tall as Aleksey Kazakov can use their supreme height as an advantage. The Russian-born spiker stood at seven-feet-two-inches on the other side of the net from his opponents, effortlessly blocking and altering their every shot.

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The monstrous serves and smashes by Kazakov propelled him onto the Russian Olympic team. His skill at that size helped the Russians earn Olympic bronze in 2001 and upgrade their hardware when they won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics.

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Margo Dydek - 7' 2", 223lbs

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Many tall players have come and gone in the WNBA, but none were ever taller than Margo Dydek. The truth is, Dydek retired as the tallest woman ever to play basketball. Standing at seven-foot-two-inches, it was easy to see why the Utah Starzz picked her first overall in 1998.

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A native of Poland, Dydek led the WNBA in blocks per game a jaw-dropping eight times, the leader in season total blocked shots (877), and had the most defensive rebounds (214) in 2001.

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The Great Khali - 7' 1", 347lbs

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Say the name Dalip Singh Rana, and nothing rings a bell, but The Great Khali is one that professional wrestling fans know well. Khali towered in the squared circle at seven-feet-one-inch and highlighted his career when he won the WWE World Heavyweight title in 2007, something no other Indian-born wrestler had ever done before.

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Khali took full advantage of his size, in the ring bodyslamming foes from great heights or choke slams and as an actor. He had cameos in Get Smart, The Longest Yard, MacGruber, and two Bollywood movies.

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Paul Posluszny - 6' 2", 232lbs

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Paul Posluszny did not retire from the NFL as one of the mammoth-sized players in history. At six-foot-two-inches, Posluszny had one of the most defined jawlines in sports. Any doubts about the serious nature of his training were squashed once people saw his neck.

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Posluszny was drafted 34th in the second round of the 2007 Draft and made the Pro Bowl in 2013. He represented the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars with a modest career lasting eleven seasons, but his name sparks instant memories of a jaw that could flatten a football.

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Sharran Alexander - 6', 448lbs

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Four hundred-pound male sumo wrestlers were everywhere, but Sharran Alexander had a career that made more of a splash than her 448 pounds. Alexander decided at age 41 to retire from being a British nanny and enter the world of sumo wrestling.

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Alexander may have set the unofficial record for accomplishing the most in her late start into a sport. She won four gold medals competing internationally, currently holds the title of the heaviest sportswoman in the world, and was officially recognized as a professional by the British Sumo Federation.

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C.C. Sabathia - 6' 7", 300lbs

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C.C. Sabathia stood on the pitching mound at six-foot-seven-inches, weighed nearly 300 pounds, and made the 60-foot gap between himself and home plate seem more like two feet. Sabathia's menacing but stocky stature began in high school when he was approached naturally to play football.

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Once Sabathia found baseball, the rest of his career was history. The former left-handed pitcher threw flames for three MLB teams over 19 seasons, won the American League Cy Young (awarded to each league's best pitchers), and won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009.

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John Daly - 5' 11", 250lbs

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Golfer John Daly confused fans, media, and fellow golfers about which was more enormous, his outrageous fashion sense or his waistline. Daly puffed cigars, wearing clothing found in no pro shops, and a figure not found in most country clubs weighing 250 pounds.

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Daly's career and style were unphased as stars who were also winning championships, like Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka, changed the stereotypes surrounding the sport with their training habits. Golf went from unathletic dad-bodies to fit, lean, and jacked golfing machines.

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Mohammad Irfan - 7' 1", 231lbs

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Playing the sport of Cricket is challenging at any size, but Mohammad Irfan, at seven-foot-one-inch, loomed large over the friendly game. The Pakistani-born cricketer is credited as the tallest to play internationally in the first-class. For nearly a decade, Irfan, literally and figuratively, was the star of Pakistan's National Team.

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Irfan came from humble beginnings before discovering the game he loved. He was taking home $3 per week working in a pipe factory before his incredible skill and agility were noticed. Irfan's trademark was his fast-paced lefty bowling delivery.

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Stefan Struve - 7', 265lbs

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Stefan Struve, 7', 265 lb, naturally had the advantage most UFC fighters wish for above-average height. The Netherlands-born Struve is affectionately known as the "Skyscraper" and deserves the nickname. Struve grew up playing soccer, which got kicked to the curb once he started mixed martial arts training.

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After making his debut at UFC 95 with an uninspiring loss, Stuve won the next 70% of his matches. Enough motivation came after losing recently in a wrestling contest for the punching pugilist to return to his rookie days when the hunger was greater.

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Big Show - 7', 500lbs

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Professional wrestling star Paul Wight's name sparks little fear, but as the Big Show, he casts a tall and intimidating shadow over opponents. The seven-footer, who peaked at 500 pounds before slimming down to under 400, had surprising speed in the squared circle and is a seven-time WWE world champion.

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Taking down famed wrestling celebrities like The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan, the Big Show could not hide from competition, nor did he try to. Today, Wight proves age and height are just a number while continuing to fight at age 50.

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Eric "Butterbean" Esch - 5' 11", 300lbs

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Boxing, wrestling, and UFC had stars of all size ranges, but Butterbean was huge in the ring and out of it. Butterbean, 5' 11", 300lb, rose through the boxing ranks, albeit slowly, and became a traveling circus because of his girth, which also was like an anchor in his career.

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Butterbean was an overnight sensation in the ring no matter which sport he participated in, and the ratings proved it. His matches made headlines regardless of the outcome, which often resulted in a loss due to his size, lack of agility, speed, and ability to dodge punches.

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Emmanuel Yarbrough - 6' 8", 600lbs

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Emmanuel Yarbrough was enormous in sports like football and professional wrestling but stood out less on the field than in his other professions. At his heaviest weight, 882 pounds, the 6' 8" former martial artist chopped, kicked, and flattened opponents from the heavens with the force of lightning bolts.

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Yarbrough managed to have a successful career once he slimmed down to 600 pounds and even started acting, despite the immense shadow he cast everywhere. Opponents on the receiving end of a judo swat from Yarbrough probably would have preferred he tackled them.

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Jon Rauch - 6' 11", 290lbs

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To say that former MLB flame-throwing pitcher Jon Rauch, standing on the mound at 6' 11", was tall undersells his stature in baseball history. Instead, every statement about the career of Rauch should begin with the fact he is the tallest player in any position ever to play in MLB.

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Rauch was not the prototypical lean and slender pitcher above average in height to throw strikes. The near seven-footer was a modest 290 pounds. Combine the passion that sometimes got the best of him with that size, and the fireworks that ensued resulted.

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Mark Henry - 6' 4", 360lbs

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Professional wrestling's Mark Henry and his 6' 4", 360-pound massive frame may not leap off the page. One thing people learn quickly is in his prime, when he weighed 400 pounds, the former powerlifter, strongman, and Olympic weightlifter is more than statistics in person.

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Henry began his impressive career as a two-time Olympian and set the sport of weightlifting on fire, breaking records along the way. Henry once held three amateur weightlifting records. Today, he still holds world records in the deadlift and squat.

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Blanka Vlasic - 5' 11", 154lbs

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International high jump champion Blanka Vlasic, 5' 11", showed naysayers and critics how using height can be crafted into a long, successful career with the elegance of a swan. The Croatian-born Vlasic has the only coach she has needed, her father, a decathlon record-holder.

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Father must know best because his daughter Blanka would spring over bars and earn sixteen medals in international events, twelve of which were gold. Blanka won the 2010 IAAF World Athlete of the Year award and the European Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2010.

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Ivo Karlovic - 6' 11", 229lbs

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Anybody deprived of footage showing six-foot-eleven-inch tennis player Ivo Karlovic might presume that speed would be an advantage over him. That oversight was made many times in the admirable career of Karlovic, who broke a few of the sport's records remarkably after turning 40.

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Karlovic is a record-holder for the most career aces, reached as high as 14th in the overall ranking, recorded the fourth-hardest serve (156 MPH), the oldest in Men's Singles to win a match after advancing to the third round in 1978, and was the oldest winner since Jimmy Connors to win a Grand Slam match.

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Shaquille O'Neal - 7' 1", 325lbs

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Shaquille O'Neal has a resume, endorsement list, and trophy case filled with awards to match his domineering seven-foot-one-inch body. The 325-pound former NBA legendary center turned TNT broadcaster squeezed it all into commercial products and stars in his Rap videos.

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O'Neal dunked over and through opposing players and won four NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. With the colossal contracts athletes are signing for today, it is hard to believe that O'Neal's seven-year, $120 million deal was the highest ever in 1996.

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Zdeno Chara - 6' 9", 250lbs

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An athlete six-foot-nine-inches can be a problem, but Zdeno Chara on skates was a monumental nightmare for opposing teams and players. The former NHL defenseman stood nearly seven feet wearing blades on the ice and had a nasty disposition if the one-time Boston Bruins bear was poked.

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The Slavic hockey player bullied and tormented everyone silly enough to start trouble with him or his teammates for a spectacular and lengthy 24 seasons in the NHL. Chara played 14 seasons as the captain of the Boston Bruins, leading them to win the 2011 Stanley Cup.

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Mariusz Pudzianowski - 6' 1", 300lbs

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Mariusz Pudzianowski may not turn heads standing at six-foot-one-inch, but the 300 pounds of muscle incarnate had the strength to do much worse to those people but thankfully used his powers for good and not destruction.

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Pudzianowski has won five World's Strongest Man championships, more than any competitor in the event's history. Seeking more of a challenge, Pudzianowski decided to attempt a career in mixed martial arts, and there is little doubt that he will dominate that sport with the ease of his victories as a strong man.

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Nikolai Valuev - 7', 328lbs

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Even for the toughest boxers facing all seven feet of Nikolai Valuev, survival and victory seem like taller tasks than his height. Valuev effectively used his dominating size to bruise his way to many wins in a career from 1993 to 2009.

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Finding themselves in the winner's column against Valuev was so rare that he won an unbelievable 50 of 53 matches as a gigantic pugilist referred to by many as the "Russian Giant." At one point, Valuev was the biggest and heaviest champion of boxing.

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Richard Metcalfe - 7', 310lbs

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Rugby players present an aura of toughness, but Richard Metcalfe brought the sport's attractiveness to new heights. Metcalfe and his seven-foot towering frame were the ultimate weapon for throw-ins, and his length and strength were a nightmare in scrums.

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Metcalfe stood at least six inches taller than the average player and played every game but the final in which his Northampton team won the 2000 Heineken Cup. Racking up titles in a sport where shorter players try to chop him down like a tree took its toll, and injuries forced his retirement in 2003.

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Darya Klishina - 5' 11", 125lbs

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Darya Klishina must have made opponents feel like she was made of rubber at five-feet-eleven-inches. The Russian-born long jumper was one of the world's top-performing long jumpers.

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Klishina earned every accolade and award based on her infamous training on the track and the gym. Along with an Olympic silver medal in the sport, Klishina set the record in 2010 for the second-longest jump.

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Brittney Griner - 6' 9", 205lbs

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Female basketball star Brittney Griner would be almost of average height if she played in the NBA. The WNBA star took the concept of seven-foot centers in the men's leagues, using their size and above-average length to take over and control games to the women's game and with success.

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Griner has blocked over 500 shots and scored over 2,000 points, something only a handful of others have done. Griner helped lead the U.S. Women's National Basketball Team to a gold medal victory at the 2016 Olympics.

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Hong-Man Choi - 7' 2", 352lbs

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Whatever one of the nicknames you pick for seven-foot-one-two combat sports fighter Hong-Man Choi, they all point to his alarming size. Choi competes in wrestling, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts under the monikers of "The Korean Colossus," "Korean Monster," and "Techno Goliath."

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Ultimately, poor health was the only thing big enough to stop Choi, forcing him to retire from competitions. All was not lost after retirement for Choi, who became an actor appearing in Korean TV shows like The Running Man.

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William "Refrigerator" Perry - 6' 1", 350lbs

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NFL defensive tackles are historically gigantic men, but William "Refrigerator" Perry rewrote the books with a rare blend of athleticism and power. In his prime, the six-foot-one-inch defensive blockade weighed nearly 350 pounds.

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Perry was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bears in 1985 and helped guide the team to a Super Bowl victory. Perry could run the 100-yard dash in under twelve seconds, was infamously seen throwing down 360-degree dunks in basketball, and displayed an impressive ability diving in swimming.

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Amazon Eve - 6' 8", 200lbs

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With a name like Amazon Eve, it is hard to picture a feeble and tiny woman. Eve's fame and popularity came from her awe-inspiring figure and height.

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The fitness instructor's given name is Erika Ervin, and she is also an accomplished model and actress. Ervin has several notable cameo appearances in shows like American Horror Story: Freak Show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hemlock Grove.