No offence to GSP, but he doesn’t even come close. I don’t think he would actually crack the top 10.
First off, there’s Wayne Gretzky. Easily the most popular athlete ever in Canada. People who don’t follow sports know who the Great One is, even if you only mention his number (99). The same can’t be said for St. Pierre.
Besides Gretz, there’s Larry Walker (the best Canadian baseball player of all time), Steve Nash (the best basketball player of all time) and Lennox Lewis, one of the best boxers of all-time.
Then there’s guys like Jacques Villeneuve and his dad Gilles in auto racing, figure skaters Kurt Browning and Elvis Stojko, Mike Vanderjagt (the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history), golfer Mike Weir, soccer player Owen Hargreaves, runners Donovan Bailey and Ben Johnson, and so on.
And that doesn’t include the multitude of famous hockey players, such as Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe.
Does St. Pierre rank above any of them in popularity? Certainly. But from that list alone, you could easily argue GSP doesn’t make the top 10.
But when asked about the popularity of great hockey players, White countered with this:
“Some guy started to argue with me about Gretzky and all these others … do people care about Gretzky when he shows up in the Philippines or the U.K. or all the other countries?”
Ah, so now we’re switching to other criteria, popularity in other countries. Obviously, a soccer country like England would probably recognize Hargreaves over St. Pierre.
But if popularity the world over is the only criteria, there’s no need to debate this. There’s only one person who comes close to being Canada’s most popular athlete.
That’s right. The Hitman is the most popular athlete ever to hail from Canada. He was hugely over, especially overseas.
He was so popular in his heyday with the WWF, that he was voted as the most popular athlete in Germany for three straight years.
So if that’s the criteria, it’s got to be Bret Hart. Most famous in Canada: Wayne Gretzky.
Sorry Dana White, but St. Pierre isn’t even close.