Stab Magazine | Is Kelly Slater the best sportsman ever?
747 Views

Is Kelly Slater the best sportsman ever?

At present, Kelly’s number one in the world and, when he scoops ninth or better at the Rip Curl Search event in San Fran, will win his 11th world title. Anyone who’s picked up a surfboard knows who Kelly is, knows what he’s done. Is Kelly the best sportsman ever? According to Mark Occhilupo he […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

At present, Kelly’s number one in the world and, when he scoops ninth or better at the Rip Curl Search event in San Fran, will win his 11th world title. Anyone who’s picked up a surfboard knows who Kelly is, knows what he’s done. Is Kelly the best sportsman ever? According to Mark Occhilupo he sure is. Occy recently told Fox Sports Australia that Kelly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Muhammad Ali, Pele, Rog Federer, Michael Jordan and Don Bradman – if not in an even higher regard:

“I think he’s as good as any sportsman, for sure,” said Occy. “He’s dominated our sport as much, if not more than anyone else has done in other sports. In some ways, surfing is harder because not only do you have to be the best, but you have to have luck with the waves. It’s pretty ridiculous that he’s been able to win that many times.”

Occ then went on to outline Kelly’s strengths and lack of weaknesses (Career longevity! Big or small waves! Backhand or forehand! He adapts!): “He’s covered two eras. First there was me and Tom Curren in the 90s, and now there’s the likes of Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. So he’s really covered a 20-year span. He can surf big and small waves. He hasn’t really got any weaknesses in his backhand or forehand, and he rides such a different variety of boards. He’s changed his surfing to adapt to the new criteria. He’s not as powerful as before, but he’s very exciting to watch because he’s more creative so you’re never sure what he’s going to do. He’s always mentally switched on, and he’s really confident. He’s certainly the hardest guy I’ve ever surfed against.”

What then follows the article is interesting. You think our discussion boards are passionate/incensed? Mainstream sports fans are a tough crowd, too. Beneath Occ’s quotes are 140 comments of articulate and divided opinion, focused on whether or not surfing’s even a real ‘sport’ and whether or not Kelly even stands up against some of the aforementioned heroes.

So, what do you think? Is Kelly the best sportsman of all time? How does he square up against Ali, Jordan, Bradman, Federer? Or is the comparison a moot point, ’cause surfing’s love and art, not sport, man?

Check out the full article (with entertaining comments) here.

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Can Anyone Beat Robbo?

The Spartan plays footsies, wildcards go switch & the broadcast sentences us to HOLD limbo…

Aug 18, 2022

The Post-COVID Surf Tourism Boom In The Mentawais

Three business owners detail pandemic struggles and what it's like to be back in full…

Aug 18, 2022

“Airlines Hate Me:” Bad Boy RyRy’s Guide To Surf Travel

Want to get pampered at the pointy end of the plane for free?

Aug 17, 2022

Yes And Welcome Back: The First Day Of Female CT Competition At Teahupo’o Since Melanie Redman-Carr Was Taking Scalps In ’06

Carissa Moore is now two heats away from her 6th World Title, btw.

Aug 17, 2022

7:11

What Happens When You Borrow A Pro’s Board?

Joyride: The Shrizz from PANDA surfboards.

Aug 16, 2022

2:17

Mick Fanning Samples California’s Finest Local Produce

Mayhem at Lowers.

Aug 16, 2022

Mountains Died So You Could Surf

The value of sand.

Aug 15, 2022

9:12

UPDATE: People Are Still Surfing ‘La Jetee’ in Reunion Island

Returning to the best & sharkiest air wave in the world, as seen in Mod…

Aug 14, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Female) Surfers

What the Stab reader survey teaches us about taste.

Aug 14, 2022

2:14

Kelly and Local Gal to Win Teahupo’o?

Local insights and a firing forecast.

Aug 13, 2022

These Are Your Favorite (Male) Surfers

Insights from the 2022 Stab Reader survey.

Aug 13, 2022

16:04

Fear And Loathing in Mainland Mex

Parker Coffin, Harry Roach, and the Roark crew embark on an authentic Oaxacan (surf) trip.

Aug 13, 2022

Tahiti Preview: The End Of The Road For 72% Of The CT

And hello there, blob of swell.

Aug 12, 2022

3:24

While Everyone Flocked To Tahiti, Kelly Stayed in Jbay

...And proceeded to rip the hell out of it on a "borrowed" 5-finned Tomo.

Aug 11, 2022

1:38

Can A GQ Cover Boy Take Out Teahupo’o?

Kauli Vaast is your incredibly handsome Tahiti trials winner.

Aug 11, 2022

Watch: Ramble On With Caity Simmers 

An action-rich tour behind the scenes of her triumphant first voyage to Oz.

Aug 11, 2022

PSA: Surf Filmers Not Welcome In Nicaragua

Cameras and drones are being seized on arrival, Stab spoke with two recent visitors.

Aug 11, 2022

Inside The Alternative Surfboard Marketing Machine 

Two of the biz's best — Matt Parker and Blake Peters — spill many beans.

Aug 10, 2022
Advertisement