The inaugural members of my mythical Hall of Fame for world sportsmen and sportswomen (for achievements up to the year 1900) are:
Leonidas of Rhodes (Athletics) – won twelve running titles at the four Ancient Olympics between 164 and 152 BCE, 3 at each games – a record for the Games
Paul Masson (France – Cycling) – won three gold medals at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 in the 2km sprint, the 10km race, and the 333m race.
Richard (Dick) Sears (USA – Tennis) – the first US Open tennis champion at the age of 19. He retained his title for the next six years. Also won six men’s doubles titles at the US Open.
John L Sullivan (USA -Boxing) – the last world heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing and the first of gloved boxing (from 1881-1892).Lost only one of his 42 contests.