Ryan Kankowski played for the South Africa national rugby union team between 2007 and 2012. Nicknamed ‘The Hoff’ by his teammates because he apparently looks like David Hasselhoff.
Lionel Messi’s nickname is ‘La Pulga Atomica’, which is Spanish for ‘The Atomic Flea’. Compared to most footballers, he is short in height, and factor in that he is a constant pest for opposing defenders, the nickname makes sense.
Messi’s height is listed as 5’7″, but it is likely he could be even slightly shorter than this.
Did you know? Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency as a child and underwent expensive treatments of human growth hormone injections to help him grow.
Steven Adams is a 7-foot New Zealander who was the 12th draft pick in 2013, and the current starting center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many were shocked when the Thunder signed Steven Adams to a 4 year / $100,000,000 contract extension in 2016. But the ‘Kiwi Phenom’ has been living up to his contract and has proven his value as one of the most consistent and reliable centers in the NBA. Adams gives his full effort every night he plays, is a great offensive rebounder, a solid defence anchor, good on the PnR, and sets good screens.
Adams’ most often used nickname is ‘Kiwi Phenom’, but from time to time you will hear fans call him ‘Aquaman’, this is because of a slight resemblance to Jason Momoa in the DC Comics movie.
Arthur Abele won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 2018 European Championships. Celebrating with a makeshift crown on his head and the German flag draped across his shoulders, Abele received his nickname ‘King Arthur’, a reference to decathletes being commonly called ‘King of Athletes’. Decathlon is considered an ultimate test of all around athleticism and ability.
Abele was voted 2018 male German Athlete of the Year.
Gary Simmons is a former ice hockey goaltender. During his 4 seasons in the National Hockey League with the California Seals, Cleveland Barons, and Los Angeles Kings, Simmons was known for his goalie mask that featured a design of a large cobra snake.
Simmons first got his nickname in 1972 when a reporter said that he was like a snake on the ice. Bob Barlow responded “Yeah, he’s just like a Cobra”. It was mentioned in the paper the next day, and the nickname stuck.
Franz Beckenbauer is regarded by many as the greatest German footballer of all time. Throughout his career, Beckenbauer was universally known as ‘Der Kaiser’ or ‘The Emperor’. The nickname had nothing to do with football, and he was first called ‘The Kaiser’ by a magazine because he looked like Kaiser Ludwig II (pictured below), a former Bavarian King.
Retired German discus thrower and Olympic gold medalist Robert Harting earned the nickname ‘Incredible Hulk’ because he was known for ripping apart his shirt after a major victory.
Harting won the discus gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. After the win, he tore open his shirt, donned a German flag like a cape, and ran a hurdling lap around the track to celebrate.
Shane Heal is an Australian basketball great with a brilliant career that including captaining Australia, playing in the NBL and also playing international in Greek, Italian and US basketball leagues.
When asked during an interview with Inside Sport the question of where he got his ‘Hammer’ nickname from, Shane Heal provided the following answer: “I got into a few scuffles when I was a bit younger and also enjoyed a bit of competitive boxing when I was growing up. I also played a lot of footy and, because of my attitude, I got into a bit of biff. All of a sudden they were calling me ‘Hammer’ and it stuck”
- 1998 NBL rookie of the year
- Represented Australia at 4 Olympic Games – 1992, 1996, 2000 & 2004.
- Captained Australia at the 2004 Olympics Games.
- Represented Australia at 3 World Championships – 1987 (Junior), 1994 & 1998
- More total points and assists than any other player in the world at the 1996, 2000 & 2004 Olympics.
- NBA – Minnesota Timberwolves 1996-97
- NBA – San Antonio Spurs 2003
- 3 years in powerful Greek League – All Star in 2 years.
- 15 seasons in NBL
- 8 years NBL All Star
- Captain of Sydney Kings first ever Championship.
- Youngest player to ever score 1000 points in NBL.
- Once scored 61 points in NBL game.
- Scored 8 – 3 point baskets against the USA Dream Team at the 1996 Olympics.
Andre Agassi is a former World No.1 professional tennis player from the United States who won eight Grand Slam singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in singles. Agassi was one the game’s most dominant players from the early 1990’s to the mid-2000’s, and his return of serve is regarded as one of the best in the history of the game.
Agassi was called ‘The Punisher’ by peers during his playing career for his systematic breaking down of his opponents. Jim Courier who was a former World No.1 tennis player himself, gave an example of how Agassi would punish his opponents in extremely hot weather conditions describing how “he would go out on days like today at this very tournament and try to play long first sets. Try to move the guy around side to side to take the legs out. He didn’t even care necessarily if we won the first set, it didn’t matter”.
AB de Villiers is a former South African cricketer who had the ability to play shots to any part of the ground, this led to his nickname ‘Mr. 360’.
AB de Villiers is one of the few batsman to have averaged over 50 in both Test and one-day international (ODI) cricket, and was also one of the world’s greatest fielders.
Career highlights include:
ICC Player of the Year: named ICC ODI player of the year on three occasions. Winning the award in 2010, 2014 and 2015.
Fastest records in One Day Internationals: he holds the records for the fastest 50 (16 balls), 100 (31 balls), and 150 (64 balls).