This was a hard decision to make because some sports lend to more international spotlight and notoriety than others. I'm choosing a guy who was legendary in the United States and took that legend to other parts of the world and is still remembered to this day.
I seriously thought about choosing Michael Jordan but I had to go with Ali. Ali was unlike anything we've ever seen. He could trash talk you to death and he had the ability to back it up. He was pre-internet's Terrell Owens or Shaquille O'Neal. To some, Ali was a larger than life character. I'm going to highlight two of his fights to prove my case.
1. The Rumble In The Jungle
I couldn't stress enough the significance of this fight. The payoff to this fight was $5 million but Don King didn't have the money so he had to go to an outside country and Zaire was willing to sponsor the fight. The president of Zaire wanted publicity and he got exactly what he achieved. For maybe the only time in history, the eyes of millions was focused on a country in Africa.
2. Thrilla in Manila
This was the end to the bitter feud Ali and Frazier had which was one of the greatest of all-time. President Ferdinand Marcos wanted the honor to host this fight as a way to divert the social chaos Manila was experiencing at the time. HBO broadcasted the fight and numerous countries got to see this happen.
Muhammad Ali brought boxing and his personna to other countries of the world in a sport that had mainly been localized to America at that point. Ali and the sport of boxing didn't have the advantages that other athletes have today in the world of technology. Muhammad was one of the greats and he got to display that talent to other parts of the world so they could see it too.