In order to be a successful athlete, hard work and dedication are mandatory. And, like any career, there are some who excel in their sport, others who are just above average, and some who are just there to fill space on the team roster. Those who are truly committed to being the best have usually been training since they were children, and will be the first to say that they have a long way to go before achieving their personal bests.
There are also athletes who go above and beyond to be known not only in their sport, but in the world of sports overall. Some athletes even train so hard that they put their health, and sometimes their lives, in danger. While the public ogles over an athlete’s near-perfect body, incredible speed or above-average strength, many people don’t consider the strenuous conditions these athletes endure while attempting to advance their careers.
Both male and female sports stars fit this description. In today’s world of tabloids and celebrity obsession, these athletes are often not exempt from scandal and sensational stories. However, many of them are able to rise above the conflict and continue to be among the best in their sport, which is no easy feat. Here are 12 sexy athletes who risk their lives for sports.
12 Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki is a Danish tennis player who has received the distinction of being No.1 in the game several times. Of course, being that good can be physically demanding. Caroline stated during an interview with Men’s Fitness that once she became a professional player, she “had no idea of the level of fitness that the top girls had.” Wozniacki started training five days a week so she could gain muscle, which has been physically demanding. Weight, agility drills and long-distance running can take a toll on the body if not coupled with a balanced diet, and Caroline realizes this. She’s even stated that fitness is now just as important to her as the game of tennis itself. We just hope the athlete, who is often trained by her father, doesn’t get too obsessive with working out.
11 Anastasia Ashley
Anastasia Ashley is one of the hottest female surfers in the wold right now. When she was just five years old, she moved to Hawaii from L.A. to learn how to perfect the sport of surfing. She had to learn how to “crush it” on the waves while avoiding the dangerous creatures that live in the water. There are far too many stories of sharks attacking surfers, and thankfully, Ashley doesn’t have that story to tell. She’s known for her great body as well, and some of her fans even try her exercises for a toned backside. Ashley has also been featured in Playboy wearing a bikini, and was nominated for PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Alive.
10 Leryn Franco
Leryn Franco is a skilled javelin thrower from Paraguay. When she competed in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, her athletic expertise was seen by millions on the Internet, and she became an overnight sensation. Franco has also appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. She even came in first place on the 100 Hottest Athletes of All Time List by Bleacher Report. Leryn doesn’t seem offended that people focus so much on her beauty. In fact, she says she’s “flattered” that people pay so much attention to her. She puts her beauty at risk with her javelin practice, though, which could be really dangerous. After all, javelin-related injuries can be pretty serious. Franco also has an intense workout regimen that many women have been following in hopes that their bodies will look similar to the Olympian’s.
9 Serena Williams
Serena Williams is, hands down, one of the best tennis players ever. She also has the distinction of being the oldest woman to lift a singles Grand Slam at the age of 31. Just one glance at her body is proof that her training regimen is pretty elaborate. She doesn’t put her life at risk by using performance-enhancing drugs (like one of her competitors), but she does risk exhaustion due to the long hours she puts in when it comes to training and practicing. Serena, who started playing tennis when she was only four with her sister Venus (also a star player), is the first to admit that being a professional athlete can take its toll on the mind and body. She went to therapy for depression in 2006, and she has sustained a number of injuries throughout her career. Her typical day of training includes a few hours of tennis, following by strength training and cardio. Every day. That’s pretty intense.
8 Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan became an inspiration to girls everywhere were she was selected to be the youngest player on the FIFA Women’s World Cup team in 2011. Morgan has also served as goalie for the Western New York flash and is a U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team member. In 2012, she graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue wearing nothing but body paint. However, all these accomplishments don’t come without dedication and a strenuous workout regimen. Morgan even refers to her core workouts as “grueling” and says that she “works her butt off” on the treadmill. These types of exercises can be detrimental if not coupled with nutrition and time to rest the muscles. After all, Morgan trains twice a day, for three or four hours at a time!
7 Kristine Andali
In 2014, Cross Fit athlete Kristine Andali was the highest-performing athlete at the regional level who wasn’t asked to compete at the 2014 games. That was also the same year that she placed third at the 2014 Canada East Regional. Only two athletes were sent to the Games from this competition. Andali wasn’t able to train as much as she would have liked in 2015, since she ruptured her Achilles while getting ready for Regionals. Just six months after surgery, she returned to a full training regimen. She has several personal goals that she wants to reach when it comes to weight lifting, and she moved from her native Canada to California so that she can be closer to her coach Dusty Hyland. Even though her health has been on the line, she’s continuing to train for the California Regional, and hopes to come out on top.
6 Kyle Kasperbauer
Most people aren’t familiar with the name Kyle Kasperbauer. But if you’re into sports, you should probably get to know this Cross Fit athlete. He took third place at the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2012, and helped the CrossFit Omaha team to take third place at the 2010 Affiliate Cup. He even set top-three finishes on the longest Games even currently on record, Pendleton 2, and on one of the shortest games, Fran. In 2015, Kasperbauer took time off competing because he had to have two tears in his shoulder repaired. He also had a bone spur from his time playing college football that was starting to bother him. Kyle has also opened his own CrossFit affiliate in Nebraska, and often posts his workout and training progress on Instagram. It’s fascinating that he’s still committed to CrossFit after sustaining such serious injuries.
5 Floyd Mayweather
Sure, you may not care for his attitude, but there’s no denying that Floyd Mayweather is a champion boxer. While he’s great at what he does, everyone knows how dangerous boxing can be. Unfortunately, one look at boxing great Muhammad Ali tells us that years of participating in the sport can have damaging effects. Mayweather faces the risk of concussion and nerve damage each time he steps in the ring. Some even wonder if being hit in the ring doesn’t have something to do with Floyd’s egocentric and violent behavior. It seems Mayweather is more concerned about the paycheck that comes with boxing (he even calls himself “Money Mayweather”), but it may be time to consider some other career options for the sake of his safety.
4 Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick is one of the most famous female auto racers. These days, it’s pretty safe to say she’s one of the most popular race car drivers in the world. Some like to focus on Patrick’s looks, and while she is pretty hot, it’s her talent that keeps putting her at the forefront of the racing world. In 2012, Danica Patrick became the first female NASCAR driver to win a pole position. She’s also received a number of endorsements and is committed to inspiring young female athletes. Needless to say, Patrick’s job puts her at risk for serious injury, since she has to go at insane speeds while maintaining control of the vehicle. That’s pretty scary stuff, which makes Danica’s skills even more impressive.
3 Manny Pacquiao
Manny Pacquiao is a devout Christian boxer who has enjoyed an impressive career. It’s important for Pacquiao to be agile and quick on his feet, since sustaining a blow in the boxing ring could severely injure him. Manny underwent even more intense training when he was preparing to fight Floyd Mayweather for the championship title. His workouts included strength, endurance and muscle building workouts. While these things aren’t exactly life-threatening if performed correctly, the actual act of boxing could take a toll on Pacquiao’s health. After years of being hit on the head and neck areas, Manny could face issues like memory loss and nerve damage. Boxing may be entertaining, but it’s also extremely dangerous and not for the faint of heart.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is almost as well known for his extremely toned body as he is for his abilities on the field. He is also known for working out long hours in order to achieve the speed and agility that makes him a force to be reckoned with. His weight training routines are so strenuous, you’ll need a “rest day” in between training if you’re trying to get a body similar to Ronaldo’s. Cristiano is known for being obsessed about training. This may stem from the fact that he used to be very skinny, and now his well-toned muscles are coveted by athletes everywhere. It’s easy to overdo it when it comes to this level of training, which is why a diet filled with protein and plenty of hydration are essential.
1 Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey is a pretty polarizing figure in the sports world. You either love her or hate her. Some people have developed a dislike for her after she talked so much trash about being fellow MMA fighter Holly Holm, only to walk away defeated. Then again, trash-talking is a part of athletics (for the most part), and no athlete can win them all. Still, Rousey is one of the most famous UFC fighters in the world, male or female. She also won the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship, and the bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After watching one UFC fight, you can see that Rousey basically puts her life at risk both in the ring and during training. There’s isn’t much protective gear on during a fight, so it’s fascinating that Ronda hasn’t sustained any major injuries due to her risky occupation.