Sports Stars Who Have Been Knighted

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Closeup of ancient knight sword.
Closeup of an ancient knight's sword with a bronze handle. On a dark stone background.
BetMGM Mar 06, 2023, 7:25 AM

Over the years, some of the world’s most renowned sports stars have had the honor of being knighted by the late Queen Elizabeth II for their contribution and achievements in their chosen sporting code. Getting a nod from Her Majesty, and the world at large, is one of the highest accolades that many aspire to. Knighted people are trailblazers and people of impact in their profession.

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Who can be knighted?

While there is still some confusion regarding who can be knighted, let’s provide some clarity. To be knighted and receive the title “Sir” or “Dame,” you need to be British. However, non-British citizens can still be recognized for their work through an honorary award. Americans who have received honorary knighthood include Bill and Melinda Gates, George H.W Bush and Angelina Jolie, who counts as one of the most notable knighted celebrities.

In this list, we’ll focus on sports stars that can proudly claim knighthood or damehood in no particular order.

Knighted sports stars

Sir Alex Ferguson

This generation of soccer lovers was likely first introduced to Sir Alex Ferguson after he was knighted. Therefore, a common question by soccer enthusiasts is “When was Sir Alex Ferguson knighted?” He was knighted in 1999 for his service and contribution to the much-loved game. He gained prominence as the manager of Manchester United, a team whose many victories have been attributed to him and his expertise.

Dame Ellen MacAurther

In 2005, after her solo circumnavigation of the globe, Dame Ellen MacArthur was knighted and became the youngest person to receive this honor. Her Majesty was quoted as describing her accomplishment as a “remarkable and historic achievement.” Three years later, in 2008, she also became a Knight of the French Legion of Honour, which is France’s highest order of merit.

To this day, she is still recognized as one of the greatest sailors to emerge from the UK and boasts several other accolades from her successful sailing career. She also went on to launch the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2010.

Sir Alastair Cook

Knighted in 2019 for his contribution to cricket, Sir Alastair Cook has made a name for himself despite being relatively young. At the time, he was 34 and England’s all-time leading run-scorer and most-capped player.

Sir Andy Murray

Although he has stated, on record, that he doesn’t necessarily champion sports people being knighted for their work, the renowned tennis player’s knighthood was awarded to him in 2016. This was four years prior to him publicly stating his views on knighthood.

His illustrious career has seen him being ranked number one in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for 41 weeks. He has also won three Grand Slam singles titles, two at Wimbledon in 2013 and 2016 and one at the US Open in 2012.

Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson

As one of the most notable paralympic athletes, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson was awarded her knighthood in 2005. She boasts 16 different medals, of which 11 are gold medals, for wheelchair racing. She also won 13 World Championship medals and the London Marathon six times. Many people still think of her as one of the greatest British athletes, and rightfully so!

Sir Lewis Hamilton

The renowned motorsport champion ended his 2021 off on a high after being awarded his knighthood by the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles. He has a long list of accolades to his name, some of his most notable being the records he holds for the most wins (103,) pole positions (103) and podium finishes (191.)

Sir Bradley Wiggins

Knighted in 2013 for his contribution and achievements in cycling, Sir Bradley Wiggins is a five-time Olympic champion. He competed professionally for approximately 15 years, between 2001 and 2016. He seems to have followed closely in the footsteps of his father, Gary Wiggins, who is an Australian cyclist with an admirable career in his own right. 

While his career may have been marred by allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs, he was never banned or suspended over the claims and still stands as an aspirational figure in cycling.

Sir Nick Faldo

When you think of British leaders in golf, Sir Nick Faldo is one of the names that come to mind. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2009. With more than 40 professional wins under his belt, his career has seen him go down in history as one of the leading golfers from his era. Taking a back seat from the on-the-ground action, Sir Nick Faldo has also established a name for himself as a commentator for golf championships.   

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.