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8 Athletes With The Best Statues And 8 With The Worst

Published 05/28/2022, 12:01 PM EDT

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Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder won the hearts of boxing fans with his heartwarming reaction to the statue. Meanwhile, multiple legends and upcoming legends in the world of sports have also been honored with sculptures in their likeness.

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The Bronze Bomber‘ was honored with a bronze statue by his townspeople in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Wilder was extremely overjoyed seeing the statue in his likeness. Moreover, he was seen caressing and kissing the statue as a wholesome sign of gratitude.

However, Wilder is just the latest addition to the jaw-dropping list of athletes honored with statutes.

The Good: Shaquille O’Neal

Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.


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The LA Lakers honored their biggest star with ‘The Big Statue’. The statue was unveiled at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2017. Moreover, NBA legends Kobe Bryant and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were in attendance during the unveiling ceremony.


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It is worth noting that at 9-feet tall; the statue is just a bit larger than the towering behemoth, Shaq. The sculpture shows Shaq hanging on to the rim after dunking the ball. However, the over 1000 pound marvel hangs barely 10-feet off the ground and requires a lot of courage to walk under.

The Good: Michael Jordan

Shaq was not the only NBA player with a statue of his likeness. In fact, the NBA legend, Michael Jordan, also has a sculpture honoring him.

The sculpture called ‘The Spirit’ was initially installed at the United Center (Gate 4) in Chicago, Illinois, in 1994. However, the statue was later moved to the atrium to facilitate the construction of a new office building.

The statue was designed by the sculptors, Omri and Julie Roblatt-Amrany. Moreover, it depicts Jordan’s iconic ‘Jumpman‘ pose, which has timelessly adorned Nike products.

The Good: Mike Tyson

The sport of boxing is incomplete without the mention of the formidable ‘Iron‘ Mike Tyson. In fact, Tyson is one of the very few boxers who have been honored with a sculpture.


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A 10-feet tall sculpture of Tyson was unveiled at the Resorts World in Las Vegas in 2021. Moreover, the sculpture is situated right outside the Mulberry Street Pizzeria. The owner of the pizzeria, Richie Palmer, is an avid boxing fan and a sculptor. And, he mentioned that Tyson deserved to be honored with a statue, as he is a prominent part of the history of boxing and Las Vegas.

The Good: Muhammad Ali

Former heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali, is often considered as the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. Moreover, the champ is one of the most iconic figures in the sport.

A bronze statue of Ali was installed at Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, six months after the death of the legend in 2016. In fact, the piece titled ‘The Greatest’ shows the iconic moment when Ali taunted Sonny Liston after knocking him down.

Moreover, the reason for installing the statue in Liverpool was to pay tribute to the champ’s quote, “You ain’t no fool if you from Liverpool.”

It is reported that the artist, Andrew Edwards, made the sculpture at the Castle Fine Arts Foundry.

The Good: Magic Johnson

The LA Lakers legend, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, also has a statue dedicated to him at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The bronze statue was installed in the year 2003. Sculptors, Omri Amrany and Gary Tillery designed it. Moreover, it shows Johnson in the charging position with his iconic ‘no-look’ pass.

The Good: Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman was one of the most memorable NFL players who played for the Arizona Cardinals. He enlisted in the army in the year 2002. However, he, unfortunately, lost his life in combat in 2004.

Tillman was honored with a statue in the year 2007. Moreover, it was installed at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Notably, the sculpture captures an iconic moment in Tillman’s career, which was also immortalized on the cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine.

The Good: Willie Mays

Willie Mays is one of the living legends of professional baseball. ‘The Say Hey Kid’ started his career with Birmingham Black Barons. But he spent the majority of his career playing for the New York/San Francisco Giants.

Mays was honored with a statue at AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2000. The sculpture depicts the contouring grace of the star after a homerun swing.

However, many baseball fans have argued that he should have been depicted with one of his iconic catches.

The Good: Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson was the first person of African American origin to play in Major League Baseball. He started his career with the Kansas City Monarchs. However, he was later signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers, marking his entry into MLB.

The statue beautifully captures the graceful body control that Robinson possessed. In fact, it is considered by many as one of the finest examples of a sculpture dedicated to a baseball player.

However, not all athletes were lucky enough to get visually pleasing statues of themselves.

The Bad: David Beckham

David Beckham is considered one of the most recognizable faces in the world of football. Notably, Beckham also played for the LA Galaxy from 2007 to 2012.

In honor of Beckham’s contribution to the team. LA Galaxy installed his statue outside their stadium in 2019.

But the statue is notorious for its weirdly disproportionate anatomy. Moreover, the sculpture’s facial features have very little resemblance to the football icon.

The Bad: Diego Maradona

The Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona, was one of the greatest names in the history of the sport. Moreover, he was known for his elegant style and dribbling skills on the field.

A 12-feet tall statue of Maradona was installed in Kolkata, India in 2017. The statue was installed to commemorate his visit to India. In fact, the statue shows the legend holding his 1986 World Cup trophy.

However, the statue bears little to no resemblance to Maradona. And, the statue gave rise to numerous memes and jokes, making fun of it on social media.

The Bad: Andy Murray

Multiple Grand Slam title winner Andy Murray has also ‘won’ a statue of his ‘likeness’.

Murray won the Shanghai Rolex Masters in 2010. However, he was awarded a rather intriguing ‘trophy’. He was awarded a life-sized statue of himself, modeled after China’s famed Terracotta soldiers.

But, the image bore little likeness to the tennis star. In fact, the medieval costume combined with a hairdo that resembles a founding father made the sculpture a rather comical depiction of Murray.

The Bad: Stan Musial

Stan Musial was a legendary baseball player who spent over 22 seasons in Major League Baseball.

The statue of the Cardinals ballplayer was installed outside the Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis in 1968. However, the historic statue is infamous for its disproportionate anatomy. Notably, the width of the hips and the length of the legs stand out, giving it an unpleasant look overall.

The Bad: Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was one of the most inspirational names in the history of tennis. Moreover, he has won three Grand Slam singles.

The sculpture titled the ‘Arthur Ashe Monument’ was in Richmond, Virginia, in 1996. Notably, the statue serves as a tribute to the star in his own hometown. The Virginian sculptor, Paul DiPasquale, designed it.

The 12-foot bronze statue shows Ashe holding a racquet in one hand and books in the other while surrounded by children. The books are placed higher than the racquet, as Ashe wanted to give more emphasis to education over sports.

However, the sculpture is often misquoted as depicting Ashe dangling the books away from children.

The Bad: Ted Bates

Edric ‘Ted’ Bates was a former Southampton FC player and manager.

A statue of Bates was installed outside St. Mary’s stadium in Southampton in 2007. However, it quickly drew the ire of football fans for his weird anatomic proportions. Fans were especially outraged by the short stubby legs.

In fact, another statue that better resembled Bates later replaced the statue.

The Bad: Harry Caray

Harry Caray was a legendary radio and television sportscaster in the world of Major League Baseball.

The statue of the man who famously coined the term ‘Holy Cow!‘ is situated outside the Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The 12-feet tall white bronze statue is one of the iconic landmarks in the area. The sculpture aptly named, ‘And a one, and a two.. and a three…’ is said to depict Caray’s love for the sport and its fans.

However, the artistic depiction of people below Caray reminds one of the ghostly demonic figures pulling the famed sportscaster into the Abyss.

The Ugly: Cristiano Ronaldo

In the list of the worst sports statues, the statue of Portuguese football sensation, Cristiano Ronaldo surely takes the cake.


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A statue of the football superstar was installed at the Aeroporto da Madeira in 2017. However, the statue quickly became infamous for its comically disproportionate facial features. Moreover, it became a target for jeering across social media.

The bronze bust designed by Emanuel Santos received a resoundingly negative response from fans. Santos clarified his mistake by replacing it with a better-looking sculpture of CR7 in 2018.


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Which statues do you think were good, bad, or straight up ugly? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Joshua Ben Joseph


One take at a time

Joshua Ben Joseph is a Boxing writer for EssentiallySports. He started his career as an editorial cartoonist and holds a BFA degree with a specialization in Animated Filmmaking and Screenwriting from AISFM, Hyderabad. An avid lover of boxing history, Joshua believes his writing extends his lifelong adoration for combat sports.
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