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Ever wondered who the true champs of the dojang are?

From breathtaking kicks to domination on the mats, these taekwondo masters have electrified fans worldwide.

Ready for a high-flying journey through taekwondo history? Let’s kick it off with the elites who’ve set the bar impossibly high.

Best Taekwondo Athletes:

  1. Steven Lopez
  2. Hadi Saei
  3. Jade Jones
  4. Wu Jingyu
  5. Servet Tazegül
  6. Joel González
  7. Zhenwei Wang
  8. Zhao Shuai
  9. Brigitte Yagüe
  10. Hwang Kyung-seon
  11. Carlo Molfetta
  12. María Espinoza
  13. Lee Dae-hoon
  14. Milica Mandić

#1 Steven Lopez

  • 🌍 Nationality: American
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: November 9, 1978
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Welterweight/Middleweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 5× World Champion, 2× Olympic Gold Medalist (2000, 2004), Olympic Bronze Medalist (2008)

Steven Lopez, fondly referred to as the “Michael Jordan of Taekwondo,” is known for his powerful kicks and quick footwork. His reputation in the sport is unrivaled, thanks to his strategic approach and ability to adapt mid-fight. Despite facing allegations of sexual misconduct later in his career, his competitive accomplishments remain notable.

Lopez has had a profound impact on American Taekwondo, inspiring countless athletes with his techniques and accomplishments. Outside the sport, he has dealt with his share of challenges, but his contributions to the Taekwondo community, particularly in the United States, are significant. His dedication to practicing and promoting the sport has left an indelible mark on its history.

#2 Hadi Saei

  • 🌍 Nationality: Iranian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: June 10, 1976
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Welterweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 2× Olympic Gold Medalist (2004, 2008), Olympic Bronze Medalist (2000), 3× World Champion

Hadi Saei is often hailed as the most successful Iranian Taekwondo athlete in history, with a storied career marked by his formidable tactical prowess and exceptional agility. His nickname, “The Tsunami,” reflects his overwhelming style that often left his opponents struggling to keep pace.

Saei’s legacy in Taekwondo is cemented by his role in elevating Iran’s presence in the international scene. As a prominent figure in Iran, he has transitioned into politics, using his fame to advocate and influence. His life outside the dojang involves a commitment to public service and engagement with social issues.

#3 Jade Jones

  • 🌍 Nationality: British
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: March 21, 1993
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Featherweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 2x Olympic Gold Medalist (2012, 2016), World Champion (2019), European Champion

Nicknamed “The Headhunter,” Jade Jones is renowned for her aggressive style and penchant for scoring head kicks. Her speed and strategic use of front-leg techniques have made her a formidable fighter on the international stage. Challenges such as the pressure of defending her Olympic title have only proven her resilience.

Jones has become a role model for younger athletes, especially in the UK, where she has helped to increase the popularity of Taekwondo. Beyond her athletic achievements, her dedication to her sport and her ability to inspire others showcase her impact on Taekwondo and society at large.

#4 Wu Jingyu

  • 🌍 Nationality: Chinese
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: February 1, 1987
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Flyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 2× Olympic Gold Medalist (2008, 2012), World Champion

Wu Jingyu secures her place in the history books as a dominant athlete with her tactical brilliance and explosive techniques. Known as one of the finest flyweight fighters, her controlled aggression and ability to score in crunch moments are the hallmarks of her success.

With her Olympic and World Championship victories, Wu has left an indelible mark on Chinese Taekwondo. She is respected not only for her achievements but also for her sportsmanship and integrity. Wu’s impact extends beyond her personal victories as she serves as an inspiration to the next generation of athletes.

#5 Servet Tazegül

  • 🌍 Nationality: Turkish
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: September 26, 1988
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Featherweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2012), 2× World Champion, 6× European Champion

Servet Tazegül, nicknamed “The Turkish Hurricane,” is admired for his dynamic kicks and combative ring presence. His assertive playing technique and impressive flexibility distinguish him as a formidable opponent. Throughout his career, he managed to maintain consistency at the highest levels of the sport.

His influence, particularly in Turkey, has been substantial, encouraging a surge in interest and participation in Taekwondo. Tazegül has not only made a mark with his impressive medal tally but has also contributed to the sport’s growth and popularity in his home country and the region.

#6 Joel González

  • 🌍 Nationality: Spanish
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: September 30, 1989
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Flyweight/Bantamweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2012), 2× World Champion, 4× European Champion

Joel González is celebrated for his mastery of Taekwondo’s tactical aspects and his psychological approach to the game, which often gives him an edge over his competitors. His nickname, “The Matador,” symbolizes his control and precision in each movement. Overcoming injuries has been part of his journey, proving his resilience and determination.

As an athlete who has risen to the pinnacle of international competitions, González’s dedication to the sport has been highly influential in Spain. His remarkable achievements and enduring commitment to Taekwondo have inspired many young talents in his home country.

#7 Zhenwei Wang

  • 🌍 Nationality: Chinese
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: October 20, 1995
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Featherweight/Bantamweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: World Junior Champion, Asian Games Champion

Zhenwei Wang, while known for his achievements in Taekwondo, may be recognized by a broader audience for his role as Cheng in the 2010 film “The Karate Kid.” His agility and sharp techniques on the mat have made him a respected competitor in the international Taekwondo community.

Aside from his sports career, Wang’s foray into acting and his involvement in the entertainment industry have broadened his influence beyond the realms of Taekwondo. As a multi-talented individual, he has demonstrated the diverse potential of athletes to succeed in various facets of life.

#8 Zhao Shuai

  • 🌍 Nationality: Chinese
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: January 22, 1995
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Flyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2016), World Champion (2017), Asian Games Champion

Zhao Shuai stands out in the world of Taekwondo for his explosive speed and precision. Throughout his career, he has been known for his ability to deliver under pressure, securing victories with his strategic mindset and physical capabilities. His impressive performances at major international competitions have bolstered his reputation as an elite athlete.

Representing China, Zhao’s gold-medal victories have not only underscored his personal achievements but have also contributed to his country’s prominence in the sport. His continued success serves as a beacon for aspiring athletes and cements his status as a top figure in global Taekwondo.

#9 Brigitte Yagüe

  • 🌍 Nationality: Spanish
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: October 15, 1980
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Flyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× World Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist (2012), 4× European Champion

Brigitte Yagüe, known for her swift and precise striking ability, has made her mark in the taekwondo world as one of the most accomplished European athletes in the sport. Her technical skills and strategic mindset have led her to multiple world and European championship titles, solidifying her position as a dominant figure in her weight division.

Beyond the mat, Yagüe’s influence extends to mentoring young taekwondo practitioners in Spain. Her successful career and passion for the sport empower the next generation of competitors. While not prominently publicized, Yagüe’s journey serves as an inspiring narrative of perseverance and excellence in taekwondo.

#10 Hwang Kyung-seon

  • 🌍 Nationality: South Korean
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: July 21, 1986
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Welterweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 2× Olympic Gold Medalist (2008, 2012), Olympic Bronze Medalist (2004), 3× World Champion

Hwang Kyung-seon’s legacy in taekwondo is marked by her exceptional track record in the Olympics and World Championships. She is recognized for her tactical approach to the sport and her powerful roundhouse kicks. Hwang has been a force to be reckoned with in the welterweight category, consistently outperforming her peers on the global stage.

Her impact on South Korean taekwondo has been profound, not only in terms of her achievements but also as a role model for aspiring athletes. Hwang’s dedication to the sport and her advocacy for women in athletics have contributed to the growth and popularity of taekwondo. Off the mat, she continues to promote the sport and inspire athletes in her country.

#11 Carlo Molfetta

  • 🌍 Nationality: Italian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: February 17, 1984
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Heavyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2012), European Champion, World Military Taekwondo Champion

Carlo Molfetta rose to prominence through his victory at the London 2012 Olympics, where he claimed the gold in a memorable and tightly-contested final. Known for his strong defensive skills and strategic use of push kicks to control the distance, Molfetta has cemented his status as one of Italy’s most outstanding taekwondo competitors.

Off the dojang, Molfetta’s contributions extend to coaching and mentoring young talent, sharing his expertise and experiences. His dedication to the sport is matched by his commitment to nurturing the next wave of Italian taekwondo champions, thus leaving a lasting imprint on the nation’s taekwondo community.

#12 María Espinoza

  • 🌍 Nationality: Mexican
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: November 29, 1987
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Heavyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2008), Silver Medalist (2012), Bronze Medalist (2016), World Champion (2007)

María Espinoza stands as a towering figure in Mexican taekwondo, noted for her unparalleled Olympic medal streak which included gold, silver, and bronze across three consecutive Games. Espinoza has shown resilience and adaptability in her playing style, employing a mix of aggressive attacks and steadfast defense to dominate the competition. Her achievements have helped elevate Mexico’s presence on the international taekwondo stage.

Apart from her athletic prowess, Espinoza is admired for her role as an ambassador of the sport in Mexico. Her legacy is not only in the medals she has won but also in her efforts to inspire and empower women in sports. María Espinoza’s impact reaches beyond athletics, as she embodies the potential for sport to influence positive change.

#13 Lee Dae-hoon

  • 🌍 Nationality: South Korean
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: February 5, 1992
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Featherweight/Bantamweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: 3× World Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist (2012), Olympic Bronze Medalist (2016)

Lee Dae-hoon emerged as one of the most dynamic athletes in taekwondo, captivating audiences with his agility and innovative techniques. His signature style, a blend of rapid footwork and explosive kicks, has consistently outmaneuvered opponents, rendering him a formidable competitor at both national and international levels.

Lee’s influence in taekwondo stretches beyond his individual successes, contributing to the strategic evolution of the sport through his performances. Outside of competitions, he is an inspirational figure for young Korean taekwondo practitioners, encouraging them to pursue excellence and sportsmanship. Lee’s blend of talent and determination makes his story one of the most inspiring among taekwondo professionals.

#14 Milica Mandić

  • 🌍 Nationality: Serbian
  • 🎂 Date of Birth: December 6, 1991
  • 🥋 Position/Role: Heavyweight
  • 🏆 Career Highlights: Olympic Gold Medalist (2012, 2020), European Champion, World Champion (2017)

Milica Mandić is celebrated for her extraordinary achievements in the taekwondo world, particularly her memorable Olympic gold medal victories. With her commanding presence and fierce determination, Mandić has consistently demonstrated her ability to overpower opponents in the heavyweight category, marked by her strong kicks and strategic ring management.

Beyond her remarkable competitive record, Mandić is an important figure in Serbian sports. Her influence as an athlete who has brought international recognition to her country has promoted the development of taekwondo in Serbia. As an athlete with an enduring spirit and dedication to her craft, Mandić serves as an inspiration, particularly to young women seeking to excel in combat sports.

To delve deeper into the sport’s culture and hear stories about top athletes, tune into the best taekwondo podcasts.

FAQ

Who is the best Taekwondo player of all time?

Steven Lopez is considered the best Taekwondo player of all time. Here’s a link to our article on why we think Steven Lopez is the best Taekwondo player of all time. With multiple Olympic and World Championship gold medals, Lopez has had a profound impact on the sport.

Who are the top 10 greatest Taekwondo players of all time?

Steven Lopez, Hadi Saei, Jade Jones, Wu Jingyu, Servet Tazegül, Joel González, Zhenwei Wang, Zhao Shuai, Ahn Hyeon-seop, and Brigitte Yagüe are the top 10 greatest Taekwondo players of all time. Each of these athletes has displayed excellence through remarkable achievements and contributions to Taekwondo.

Who is the most famous female Taekwondo player?

Wu Jingyu is the most famous female Taekwondo player. Not only a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Wu is celebrated internationally for her exceptional skill and dominance in the flyweight category.

Wayne is a travel blogger who loves to write about the best attractions, restaurants, and resorts in Florida and the southeastern U.S. When he is not writing, he is running outdoors, spending time with family, or planning his next trip.

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