The 15 Most Iconic Sports Photos of All-Time

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(Via Getty Images)

So you're interested in seeing what the most iconic sports photos of all-time are? We have you covered!

Capturing a split second that defines an era, iconic sports photos have the remarkable ability to encapsulate transcendent achievement, and the timeless spirit of competition. The most iconic and best photos of all time freeze the greatest moments of triumph, heartbreak, and unadulterated passion, leaving an indelible mark on both sports history and our collective memory.

From the triumphant fist pump of a victor to the sweat-drenched determination etched on a competitor's face, photos are more than mere snapshots; they are windows into the human spirit pushed to its limits. The most famous sports photos traverse generations, transporting us back to historic matches, legendary rivalries, and awe-inspiring feats that have shaped the sporting landscape.

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From the jubilant celebration of a game-winning goal to the graceful arc of a sprinter in full stride, these images distill complex emotions into a single frame. They capture the essence of sports as a universal language that transcends borders and cultures, uniting us in shared elation and empathy.

Here are our picks for the most iconic sports photos of all-time!

1. Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston

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(Via Getty Images)
  • Date: February 25th, 1964

Muhammad Ali is undeniably one of the most iconic American sports figures. Whether it was decimating opponents in the ring, or spurring civil rights changes in the streets, Ali could quite literally do it all. Backed by his incredible skill was a loud mouth known for giving his opponents the business. After some heated build up to his fight against Sonny Liston, Ali reveled in his victory after knocking Liston out, as seen in this iconic photo.

2. Do You Believe in Miracles?

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(Photo by Steve Fenn /Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
  • Date: February 22nd, 1980

The "Miracle on Ice" is a historic and iconic moment in the world of sports that took place during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. It refers to the astonishing victory of the United States men's ice hockey team over the heavily favored Soviet Union team, considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

The context surrounding the "Miracle on Ice" is crucial to understanding its significance. At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were in the midst of the Cold War, a period of intense political and ideological tension. The Soviet hockey team was dominant and had won the previous four Olympic gold medals. Their athletes were essentially full-time professionals, while the U.S. team was made up of amateur college players.

The moment became a rallying cry for Americans in a time of rising tension. This moment shows the power of sports and the impact they can have on a country as a whole.

3. The Shot

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(Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
  • Date: June 14th, 1998

By 1998 there was no debate who the greatest basketball player of all time was, and that was Michael Jordan. MJ was coming off five championships in seven years and was nearing the last year of his contract with the Chicago Bulls. In a season dubbed 'The Last Dance' Jordan willed his Bulls to a third consecutive NBA championship and sixth in total. There are so many iconic photos of Michael Jordan, but 'the shot' reigns supreme above them all.

4. Usian Bolt's Picture Perfect Finish

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Cameron Spencer via Getty Images
  • Date: August 14, 2016

Blink and you might miss it. Usain Bolt, the fastest man to ever walk the planet, has won many races, but some of his most memorable wins have come in the Summer Olympics. The Jamacian runner went back-to-back in the 100 meter finals in 2012 and 2016, and with each victory he put put on a dazzling performance with a mesmerizing finish. In this iconic photo from his 2016 victory, the photographer was somehow able to capture a moment that seemed to only last for a fraction of a second.

5. The Catch

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  • Date: January 10th, 1982

"The Catch" refers to one of the most iconic and memorable moments in NFL history. It occurred during the 1981 NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys on January 10, 1982 with tight end Dwight Clark and quarterback Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers linking up for the game winning score.

With just 58 seconds left in the game and the 49ers trailing the Cowboys 27-21, San Francisco faced a critical third down and three yards to go on the Cowboys' 6-yard line. Joe Montana took the snap and, under heavy pressure from the Cowboys' defense, rolled out to his right. He spotted Dwight Clark leaping in the back of the end zone and threw a high pass towards him.

6. Michael Phelps' Record-Breaking Relay

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Cameron Spencer via Getty Images
  • Date: August 17, 2008

Tom and Jerry, Mike and Ike, Michael Phelps and the Summer Olympics -- all of these iconic duos go hand-in-hand. Though it feels like yesterday, Phelps' record-breaking Olympics was back in 2008. All eyes were on Phelps in Bejing, as he entered the Olympics with the real possibility that he could break the record for most gold medals one in one Olympics with eight victories in each of the eight events he was entered in. As crazy as this feat sounds, Phelps pulled off the seemingly impossible -- with a little bit of help from his American teammates.

This iconic photo was taken as American Jason Lezak touched the wall after successfully coming from far behind when he dove in the water to anchor the Men's 4x100 freestyle relay. In the last couple of meters of the race, Lezak passed the Australian anchor as they approached the finish. Lezak not only won the relay, but helped Phelps secure his iconic 8-for-8 victories that cemented him in sports history forever. This photo accurately represents all Americans as they watched the last moments of this race.

7. The Helmet Catch

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Focus On Sport / Getty Images
  • Date: February 3, 2008

If you're a New England Patriots fan, you may want to avert your eyes on this one. If you're a New York Giants fan, you likely fall asleep at night replaying this moment that led to this iconic photo. All football fans were thrilled to watch this matchup between two rivals for Super Bowl XLII, but no one could have predicted just how epic the game would be.

The Giants pulled off one of the biggest Super Bowl upsets of all time with their underdog victory against New England, and it could not have been possible without David Tyree's catch in which he leapt several feet in the air and pinned the pass from Eli Manning to his helmet to somehow secure the ball for a catch. Since its not everyday that we get to watch a play like this, we are lucky that it was captured in such an iconic photo to look back at during times of need (this current Giants season, for example).

8. "Le Pose"

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Richard Heathcote / Getty Images
  • Date: July 7, 2019

A good goal in soccer is nothing without an equally good celebration, and Megan Rapinoe did not disappoint with this one. This photograph encapsulates the overall excitement of the 2019 World Cup in which the United States brought home the gold after a dominant and unbreakable performance.

The iconic picture has been used in ads and posters all over the globe. They say a picture says a thousand words, and this photo is one of those iconic relics that represents much more then just this game that the American women won. Rapinoe's stance stands for everything that the team has stood up for as leaders and inspirations for young girls and people everywhere.

9. Tiger Woods at the 2001 Masters

10. Hank Aaron Becomes All-Time Home Run Leader

11. Hand of God

12. Williams Sisters on Wimbledon Finals Court

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Photo by Bob Martin /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
  • Date: July 4th, 2009

The 2009 Wimbledon women's singles final was a thrilling and historic match that captivated tennis fans around the world. The final took place on July 4, 2009, at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, and featured two of the sport's greatest players: Venus and Serena Williams, the iconic sisters.

The Williams sisters, known for their powerful playing styles and intense rivalry, faced each other in a Grand Slam final for the eighth time in their careers. The match had special significance as it marked the fourth time they had met in a Wimbledon final, with each sister having won twice.

The Williams sisters' success and their unique and compelling rivalry have left an indelible mark on the sport of tennis. Their matches, including the memorable 2009 Wimbledon final, continue to be remembered as iconic moments that exemplify the excellence, passion, and sportsmanship that define the world of professional tennis.

13. Dennis Rodman's Epic Dive

14. Bobby Orr's Celebration for the Ages

15. Reggie Bush Hurdles Over a Defender Into the End Zone

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