Conor McGregor, Neymar and LeBron James named in Time Top 100 list

Irish boxer Conor McGregor, right, arrives on Grand National Day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)
Irish boxer Conor McGregor, right, arrives on Grand National Day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

Conor McGregor followed Ronda Rousey in showing the growing power of UFC as he was named on the Time Top 100 most influential list for 2017.

McGregor, 28, was nominated for the annual honour by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Governor of California and film star who has twice been included on the list himself.

Coming a year after another star of the octagon, Ronda Rousey, was named on the list, McGregor's presence as one of the world's most influential people shows the growing reach of his sport but also social media.

The Irishman's combined Twitter and Instagram following tops 15million and has seen him transcend mixed martial arts and become a cultural reference point for the millennial generation.

In his bio for the Time feature Schwarzenegger described McGregor as: 'More than a fighter, more than an athlete, more than a champion-although, as the first person in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to hold titles in two weight divisions at once, he is clearly all of those things.

'Conor is also the rare personality who has become bigger than his sport.'

Neymar, 25, was nominated by 2004 Top 100 member David Beckham. Explaining why the Brazilian footballer deserves his place on the list Beckham refers to Neymar's progression from exciting youngster to a man carrying the hopes of a nation.

It is obviously a pressure the former England captain knows well. Beckham highlights the home Olympic gold medal win, where Neymar led a team of young players to the title, and also the recent comeback over Paris Saint-Germain the Champions League.

'I suspect the recent Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain, when Neymar helped his team to an unforgettable 6-1 win, will be remembered as the moment he stepped up to take on the mantle of best player in the world,' writes Beckham of Neymar.

'Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have a new rival to that claim-and Neymar is ready to make his move.'

The other sportspeople on the list are from the American sporting landscape.

They have either achieved remarkable feats such as Tom Brady and LeBron James, who both orchestrated epic comebacks to win their sports' biggest prize, or like Simone Biles dominated a particular discipline.

Biles won four Olympic gymnastic golds in Rio, as well as bronze and became a literal golden girl in her home country.

The final sportsman on the list is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Very few would argue Kaepernick's sporting achievement over the last 12 months deserves recognition but his work as a champion for civil liberties certainly does.

Kaepernick created global headlines with his refusal to stand for the American national anthem and for speaking out against inequality in the American social-justice system.

Despite his talent, he is currently unemployed after leaving the 49ers with rumours of notoriously conservative NFL owners unwilling to give him a contract.

- NZ Herald

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