Teddy Riner: The Michael Jordan of Judo

The name Michael Jordan is synonymous with greatness. His ability to score at will and shut down opposing players on defense was unparalleled. When you factor in 6 NBA championships and a Hall of Fame induction, there are not many athletes who live in the same “air” as Jordan, but the top Judoka in the world Teddy Riner who has an astounding record of 88-0, is closing in fast.

The 6’ 8” Frenchman, who weighs nearly 300 pounds, is just 26 years old but has dominated Judo like no one has ever done before. Riner is the first man to win 8 gold medals at the Judo World Championships, winning every year except one from 2007-2015. The lone exception was 2012 when he won an Olympic gold medal for France. Riner has won 4 gold medals at the European Championships and another at the Mediterranean Games as well. When you’re at the top of your sport as Riner is and face the best competition in the world even the great ones are expected to have an occasional loss, but what Riner is doing is really something special.

To provide an idea of just how good Riner is, see the chart below which compares his win/loss record to some of the other great athletes that compete or have competed in individual sports. Only Cael Sanderson, who is considered the greatest college wrestler to ever live, and Floyd Mayweather Jr., the best pound for pound boxer of our generation are able to match Riner’s win percentage.

Sumo wrestler Hakuho who holds the record for most wins in a year (86) and for the most undefeated tournaments (11) has lost 150 times in his storied career. Serena Williams, the most dominating female tennis player on earth is 15 percent behind Riner. Even Michael Phelps, the man with the most Olympic gold medals in the history of swimming doesn’t always win, but Teddy Riner does. 

***Here’s how Riner’s achievements compare to other individual sports superstars***

Athlete                              Sport                     Wins                     Losses                  Win %

Teddy Riner                        Judo                       88                           0                         100

Cael Sanderson                 Wrestling                 159                          0                         100

Floyd Mayweather               Boxing                    49                           0                         100

Hakuho                              Sumo                    852                          150                       85.0       

Serena Williams                  Tennis                   737                         123                       85.7

Michael Phelps                 Swimming                23                           9**                       71.9


*win percentage is calculated by his performances in International Competition.

**Non 1st Place finishes)

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