Rugby players... with American football players second. Rugby has all the endurance of soccer, and all the explosive power of American football. Here's the way I see it... Which sport-specific athletes can transition to other games the easiest? Rugby players would have the endurance to play soccer, and some can kick the ball extremely well. Rugby players could also meet the physical demands of football.
However, there are plenty of American football players who could easily transition to other sports as well. As far as basketball, swimming and soccer... no way. Can you imagine putting Ronaldo on the same field with a guy like Ray Lewis or Schalk Burger... he'd leave on a stretcher!
I would agree that gymnasts are almost definitely the strongest athletes pound for pound, but I wouldn't say they're the most physically fit. They're not used to high endurance or sprinting for example, which I would say puts them out of the top spot.
From my experience, I'd say that wrestling has to be at or near the top. I've played many different sports (basketball, football, soccer, baseball) over the years, and I've never been as in shape as when I was wrestling.
I'd probably say athletics produces the best athletes.
Not trying to be a smart-ass either, but they would be the best as a group in specific athletic tasks.
If you're talking about the best singularly athletic people, I'd say it's almost certainly 7's Rugby players. I've played a whole lot of sports, and am a boxer myself, but 7's Rugby is the most gruelling of the lot. Coordination is top notch, conditioning is insane, explosiveness is crucial all leaving a very well rounded athlete.
Out of the three mentioned above, Basketball would definitely be the most athletic as the changes in momentum and coordination are much greater than those in swimming or soccer
Boxing. I box and I've played sports all my life. If you can jump rope for 5 minutes straight, take a beating for 5 rounds and still have enough stamina and strength to fight back, you're in good shape. Most pro athletes could not box at a pro level, but most pro boxers could run in a soccer or basketball game non stop.
CyclingFitness, good points! Totally skipped my mind about the cyclists within the Tour de France and I used to do triathalon and forgot about that too. I also heard somewhere a couple of years ago that Cross Country Skiers were very fit too and was quite surprised. Not something people think about very often.
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