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Question: Who is the most dominant athlete of all time?
It’s an interesting question and one which has started endless pub debates. Is that a basketball player like Michael Jordan, a baseball player like Babe Ruth, or a soccer player like Lionel Messi?
Or maybe it’s an athlete in an individual sport like Tiger Woods, or Serena Williams.
My answer to the question of who is the most dominant athlete of all time might surprise you.
Find who I’m talking about on this episode of everything everywhere daily.
Now before I answer the question I have to note that I was very particular about the words I chose.
I never asked who is the greatest athlete of all time, meaning I’m not talking about a person who might be the fastest or the strongest. So Usain Bolt or Halfthor Björnsson (he was the guy who was the mountain in Game of Thrones) aren’t really in the discussion.
I’m talking about who is the most dominant, the person who crushed their competition like no other athlete. Someone who just kept winning, and winning, and winning.
In fact, the New York Times described this person as “the most dominant athlete in any sport in the country”, and after considerable research, I’d say he might be the most dominant athlete in any sport in the world.
Who am I talking about? None other than the legendary Alan Francis!
Now you are probably asking yourself “who in the world is Alan Francis?”
Alan Francis is the greatest horseshoe pitcher in history.
Now you might be saying to yourself as well that horseshoe pitching isn’t really a sport. Well, it is certainly a sport as much as golf or bowling is a sport and quite frankly if curling can be an Olympic event then I think horseshoe pitching can be a sport.
So let’s unpack the legend of Alan Francis to see just how dominant he really is.
Alan grew up on a farm where he learned how to pitch horseshoes from his family. He won his first junior boy’s world championship in 1982 at the age of 12, which was the first of four consecutive junior world championships, which was a record at the time.
In 1989 he won his first men’s world championship at the age of 19. After some 4th and 3rd place finishes at the world championships in 1990, 1991, and 1992, he won his second world championship in 1993.
In 1994 he again finished third in the world, and in 1995 he started what can only be described as one of the most incredible runs in the history of sports.
He won the world championship in 1995…..and 1996….and 1997….and 1998, and 1999.
At the beginning of the new millennium, he had won 7 world titles and was just getting warmed up.
He won again in 2001, and in 2003 he won the first of what would be a record 8 consecutive world championships.
In 2011 he was the runner-up at the world championships, ending his 8-year streak.
A record which was tied last year by, you guessed it Alan Francis, who went on to win another 8 consecutive world championships from 2012 to 2019.
As of the time I’m recording this, Alan Francis has won an astounding twenty-four world championships and is the defending world champion.
The 2020 world championships were canceled due to Covid-19, but he was the odds on favorite again to win this year, and if he had, it would have been his 25th world championship, and he would have won world championships in FIVE different decades. The 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
I can’t think of anyone who has had that level of dominance for that length of time.
You might have noticed that there were a few years in there where he didn’t win a world championship. He has been in at least the finals of every world championship tournament since 1995, which is an incredible 25 years in a row, and he has finished no worse than 5th since 1988, a 32-year run.
As impressive and as dominant his performance has been at the world championships, it doesn’t really express just how much better he is than everyone else. If you can get a ringer (which is when the horseshoe is successfully thrown around the post) over 75% of the time, you are among the elite horseshoe pitchers in the world. In fact, prior to Alan Francis, many world champions had ringer percentages in the high 70s. If you can get your ringer percentage into the 80s, you are in competition for a world title. If you can get your ringer percentage over 90, then you are Alan Francis, as no one else in history has ever had a percentage over 90.
He was inducted into the Horseshoe Hall of Fame at the age of 26. To put that into perspective, the youngest person ever inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame was 32 (Josh Klinghoffer of the Red Hot Chili Pepper), The youngest person ever inducted into the baseball hall of fame was Sandy Koufax at 36. Youngest in the basketball hall of fame was Ed Macauley at 32, and the youngest person in the pro football hall of fame was Gayle Sayers at 34.
There is not a lot of money in professional horseshoe pitching. Winning the world championship nets you a whopping $3,000. Being the greatest horseshoe pitcher of all-time hasn’t gotten him any endorsement deals, other than a signature line of horseshoes that you can buy on Amazon.
What does the future hold for Alan? Well, horseshoe pitching isn’t really a sport where you have to retire at a young age. You can be competitive well into your 50s, so we shouldn’t be too surprised if he wins several more world titles before he is done. There is a special senior division for pitchers over the age of 60, which I’m sure he will dominate once he reaches that age.
So, the next time you get into a debate with your friends about who the most dominant athlete of all-time is, just sit back, smile, and bust out Alan Francis, the greatest horseshoe pitcher in history.
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