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Top 10 Women Who've Competed Against Men in Sports

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: George Pacheco
Script written by George Pacheco These are the Top 10 women who’ve competed against men on sports! For this list, we'll be ranking the most well known and talented female athletes who have gone head to head against men in their own chosen division. Sports of all kinds will be considered for this list, as will women from every decade of athletic greatness. We’ve included athletes like Angela Ruggiero, Mo’Ne Favis, Madge Syers, Anky Van Grunsven, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Joanie Laurer, a.k.a. Chyna, Jackie Tonawanda, Sonya Thomas, Jackie Mitchell, Julie Krone, Danica Patrick and Billie Jean King.
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Top 10 Women Who've Competed Against Men In Sports



Who says it's a man's world? Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Women Who've Competed Against Men In Sports.


For this list, we'll be ranking the most well known and talented female athletes who have gone head to head against men in their own chosen division. Sports of all kinds will be considered for this list, as will women from every decade of athletic greatness.





#10: Angela Ruggiero


Our first athlete has hockey in her blood. Angela Ruggiero boasts a laundry list of accolades, including a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, multiple appearances as an Olympian and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is also the first woman in history to play professional hockey in a non-goalie position during a regular season game, as a member of the 2005 lineup for the Tulsa Oilers. Simply stated: Ruggiero is driven beyond belief, and is more than capable of handling the fiery physicality which often goes hand in hand with this icy competitive sport.





#9: Mo'Ne Davis


It may be called the Little League World Series, but there's nothing small about the accomplishments of Mo'Ne Davis in this sports competition. Though this young athlete wasn't the first girl to play in the youth baseball classic, she made history multiple times in 2014 as the first girl to both pitch a winning game, and for that win to be a shutout victory. Davis' performance in that year's Little League World Series finals earned the game its highest viewer ratings ever, ensuring the talented athlete a place among the legends of the sport. Funnily enough, Davis herself counts basketball as her true calling, another sport in which she excels.





#8: Madge Syers


Today, the fact that women compete in professional figure skating isn't at all strange or unusual. This wasn't exactly the case back in 1902, however, when Florence Madeline Syers, also known as "Madge," broke into what was, at that time, an exclusively male competition. Syers won a silver medal as the first woman to compete in the World Figure Skating Championships, and in the process created an entire women's division in her wake. The International Skating Union would usher in a female figure skating championship after Syers' success, which Madge would win in 1906 and 1907. She would also win Olympic gold the following year.





#7: Kelly Kulick


Many people may see bowling as just another excuse for a "guy's night out," but don't tell that to Kelly Kulick. Kulick broke the proverbial glass ceiling for the sport when she became the first woman to win the tour title of the Professional Bowlers Association. Kulick was a dominating player, and impressed everyone during her decisive victory at the 2010 Tournament of Champions against veteran Chris Barnes. She was also the first female bowler to achieve PBA Tour exemption in 2006, which meant that she was allowed to compete in every PBA event for the following year, skipping over any qualifying rounds.





#6: Anky Van Grunsven


Anky van Grunsven is one of the world's most well known competitors in the equestrian world, an athlete who has seen more than her fair share of success and controversy. Olympic level equestrian is the only sport in the games where men and women compete against each other, and it's here that van Grunsven has shined, winning nine medals - three of them consecutive golds. However, she's also been closely linked with the practice of rollkur, which has been defined as using aggressive force to flex a horse's neck during training exercises. Van Grunsven, to her credit, has sought to separate herself from such claims.





#5: Babe Didrikson Zaharias


This gifted athlete excelled at a number of sports, including track and field, baseball and basketball. It's her achievements in the world of golf for which she is best known, however, as the first woman to compete in a men's open for the PGA. She missed the cut when she appeared at the Los Angeles Open in 1938, but made good seven years later on her cuts for the Phoenix Open and Tucson Opens, qualifying for the "men's only" U.S. Open in 1948. Unfortunately, her application was denied, but her trailblazing role for women in golf was already secured, and would be echoed years later in the careers of such stars as Annika Sörenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.





#4: Joanie Laurer, a.k.a. Chyna


The high testosterone world of professional wrestling may seem like one the last places in which a woman would compete against men for championships and prestige, but then again, Joanie Laurer wasn't your typical woman. Billed as "The Ninth Wonder of the World," Laurer would capture the imaginations and admiration of wrestling fans everywhere as "Chyna," an absolutely dominating physical presence who could easily go head to head with any of the boys in the locker room. Chyna eventually made history as the first and only woman to hold the WWF Intercontinental Title, when she beat Jeff Jarrett at the company's 1999 pay-per-view event, "No Mercy."





#3: Jackie Tonawanda


Jackie Tonawanda fought for women to break free from the shackles of sexism which still dogged boxing in the 1970s. She butted heads constantly with the New York State Athletic Commission in an attempt to get her bouts sanctioned, and sued for discrimination in 1975. That same year, she made history by knocking out boxer Larry Rodania during a self defense show at Madison Square Garden - though some questioned as to whether or not the show was predetermined. Tonawanda would taste a greater victory three years later, when a separate lawsuit-inspired by her 1975 case (which went all the way to New York's Supreme Court) - finally won women the right for sanctioned, professional boxing matches.





#2: Danica Patrick


Even if some of the names we've mentioned thus far don't ring a bell, chances are that you're well aware of our number two pick, Danica Patrick. Patrick has served as a role model for all young women looking to enter the world of professional motorsports, and is one of the most visible race car driving celebrities in the industry today. Patrick isn't all show and no go, however, as she's also the first woman to win an IndyCar Series with her performance at the 2008 Indy Japan 300. Although she's just as likely to appear in commercials or on talk shows, Patrick's success in this male dominated industry cannot be understated.





Before we name our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions!



Sonya Thomas





Julie Krone





Jackie Mitchell





#1: Billie Jean King


Billie Jean King isn't just one of the greatest female tennis players of all time, she's one of the sport's all time classic icons. He reputation goes far beyond her Grand Slam titles or wins in the Federation Cup and Wightman Cup. Instead, Billie Jean King is an icon for gender equality, thanks to her legendary "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match against another big name: 1939 Wimbledon winner and three time world No. 1 ranked Bobby Riggs. Although King was down to Riggs early on in the match, her eventual victory made headlines around the world, striking a blow against male chauvinism, and making King part of tennis history in the process.
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