Anyone from Michigan knows that when it comes to producing supreme athletes, we’re right up there with the best. From Magic Johnson to Antonio Gates, some of the best team players have come from the Wolverine State. But what about those that play individual sports? Can you name five sports stars from Michigan that don’t play team sports? Unless you’re an all-around sports fan, it’s harder than you think, so here’s a few that we came up with.
Okay, so we’ll start with an easy one: boxing. Michigan has produced some amazing boxers and quite possibly two of the finest the world has ever seen. One is Joe Louis, who many consider the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time (yes, he was born in Alabama, but he’s as Detroit as they come) and, of course, the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, Mayweather’s undefeated status could come under threat later this August as he takes on Conor McGregor from the UFC. We know who we’ll be rooting for. And we couldn’t talk boxing without mentioning Sugar Ray Robinson, the first boxer to win a divisional world championship five times.
We now leave the ring and head for the fairways, where we’ve got to say, although we’ve produced quite a lot of professional golfers, not many have been a massive success. But Leo Diegel won the PGA Championship two years in a row in the 1920s, and Walter Burkemo won it in 1953. We’d be very impressed if you knew those names, but there was one other golfer who is described as iconic, and it’s a name that you might know: Walter Hagen, an eleven-time major winner. Winning the U.S. Open, PGA, and the British Open between 1914 and 1929, this guy was at the top of his game and is known as one of the most flamboyant golfers of all time.
For the next one, we head back to the ring, but this time for professional wrestling (yes, it is a sport) and the Great Lakes state has been pretty good at producing grapplers. Names like Sgt. Slaughter, Kevin Nash, Monty Brown, Ed Farhat (The Sheik); the list goes on and on. But perhaps the most successful was Rob Van Dam, who held both the ECW and WWE titles simultaneously. He won 21 championships, and we count that as a pretty big deal, but not quite as good as our next star.
Finally, we come to tennis, where the biggest star on this list needs no introduction, but we’ll do it anyway. Born in Saginaw, Serena Williams is the winner of countless tournaments and is already considered the greatest player of all time. She’s won 23 grand slams and is the current record holder, although if we’re being perfectly honest, we can’t imagine that anyone is going to pass that record anytime soon.
Currently taking a break from the game due to a pregnancy, she won’t be winning any grand slams this year, although she already has the Australian Open under her belt. However, BetStars is offering pretty reasonable odds for Venus Williams to win the U.S. Open, but interestingly enough, she wasn’t born in Michigan. Aside from Serena, we’re fresh out of Michigan-born tennis stars to root for at the U.S. Open, so we might just give it a miss altogether. You know we’re all about the team sports here at DetroitSportsNation so if we missed out on any individual legends, let us know in the comments below.