Top five iconic athletes in Asia

Sportsmen and women from Asia are global superstars and take their place among the most successful on the planet.

Here’s five of the most iconic and influential Asian athletes both past and present.

Manny Pacquiao

The first politician to be crowned a world champion, Pacquiao has developed his interests outside of boxing while remaining a formidable opponent in the ring. The Philippines senator is currently in his third reign as WBO welterweight champion as he reaches the twilight of a career which has seen him regarded as one of the best boxers of all time. Pacquiao has won 11 world titles as well as being the first boxer to be crowned champion in five different weight categories.

Shinji Okazaki

Shinji Okazaki

Park Ji-Sung was a trailblazer for Asian footballers after the former South Korea international endured a successful seven-year spell at Manchester United. But Shinji Okazaki played his part in what was the most remarkable Premier League story ever. Okazaki’s tally of five goals last season was only a modest one, yet he epitomised the work-rate and doggedness of unlikely champions Leicester City.

Sachin Tendulkar


Arguably the greatest batsman in cricket history, Tendulkar retired in 2014 as a national hero with a huge list of accomplishments to his name. Tendulkar is the only player to have scored 100 international centuries, the first batsman to score a double century in a one-day international and the record run scorer in both ODI and Test cricket. The Indian is also the only player to have scored more than 30,000 runs in international cricket.

Li Na

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 26:  Na Li of China holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup during a photocall at Brighton Beach after winning the 2014 Australian Open on January 26, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A pioneer in expanding the popularity of tennis in Asia, Li Na was the most successful player in the continent’s history when she retired in 2014. Li won Grand Slam singles titles at both the French and Australian Opens, along with nine WTA titles. Her record could have been even more impressive after two further appearances in the Australian final. The future for Asian tennis now looks far brighter than when Li began her career, with Kei Nishikori a genuine contender in the men’s game.

Ding Junhui


Responsible for an explosion of snooker in China, Ding is the most successful Asian player in the history of the game. Despite missing out on a first World Championship last year after suffering defeat in the final, Ding has built a formidable record of success over a decade. After bursting onto the professional scene as a teenager, the 29-year-old has triumphed in 12 major ranking events – including two UK Championship titles.