The Greatest Athlete of All Time | Kelly Slater vs Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor

27 World Titles between them... but can surfing's #G0AT get close to darts and sport's supreme performer?

Ever since his 2010 and 2011 World Titles, there has been much clamour from certain sections of the surf fan global community that our very own Robert Kelly Slater is the greatest athlete of all time (‘athlete’ of course meant in the American sense of ‘one who does sport’, as opposed to actual track and field athletics).

Slater, Bali. Surfing’s equivalent of the Lakeside in Surrey. Photo: Timo


Taylor, 16 x World Champ

Now, Slater’s 11 World Titles are impressive but the last, in 2011, feels like an awfully long time ago now.

And with injury, age and the coming of John John / Gabriel era, he’ll almost certainly not be adding another, let alone another 5 to match Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor’s 16 World Darts Championships…

So despite the realtive gulf in world title credentials, who is the greater ‘athlete’? Kelly or Phil?

Let’s take a closer look at these two titans of sport.

1. Early Careers

The lifestories of Kelly and Phil bear uncanny similarities. Both came on the scene in the early 1990’s, and have dominated their sports ever since.

Power won his first World Title in 1990, Slater in 1992. Both failed to defend their maiden world titles (losing out to Dennis Priestly in ’91 and Derek Ho in ’93, respectively), but came back to reclaim their crowns (in ’92 and ’94). Phew-y!

Honours: Even

2. Unparalleled Performance Heights

Slater is one of four surfers to have surfed a perfect heat (Parko, Flores and Beschen); in fact, like Joel, he’s surfed two of them.

Taylor, on the other hand, nailed two 9 dart finishes in one 2010 Premier League match, the only player in history to do so.

Honours: Taylor

3. Box Office

Slater famously appeared as Jimmy Slade in Baywatch in 1991, starring alongside Pam Anderson and David Hasselhoff in 6 episodes. Taylor made a cameo in Coronation Street in 2009, featuring as a character named ‘Disco Dave’.

While Kelly’s show, co-stars and character were all sexier, his acting was done before any major titles were won, while Taylor’s done at the height of his competitive career.

Honours: Taylor


Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor, Tahiti… no wait, that’s Slater. Photo: Timo

4. Career Earnings

Taylor prize money earnings surpassed £5 million in 2012, which is about $US 8.2m

Slater’s WSL prize money earnings come in at a measly $US 3.7m (less than half!).

Honours: Taylor

5. Trousers

Kelly has been rumoured to have had romantic ties to the likes of Pam, Gisele and Cameron, before settling down with long-term partner Kalani Miller.

Taylor is married (with kids) to Yvonne, although was fined £2000 for indecent assault in 1999 for allegedly fondling two 23-year-old women in his motor home.

As far as we know, Taylor has never been out with anyone so famed for their beauty that you could refer to them only by their first name.

Honours: Slater

Slater, unlike Taylor, has been nowhere near an indecent assault charge, ever. Photo: Timo

6. Music

Taylor is nick-named ‘The Power’, ever since his manager stepped on and broke a CD single of Snap’s ‘The Power’ in Taylor’s car.

Slater likes Coldplay.

Honours: Taylor

7. Fitness & Longevity

Taylor, who has been morbidly obese for most of his adult life lost 5 stone (70 lbs) in 2011, and won his latest World Title aged 52.

Slater has been a beacon of supreme fitness excellence his entire career, and publicly championed the uber-trendy ‘clean’ food movement via relentless Insty food utterings.

Myths surrounding his physique include him having a ‘double-jointed back’ and that he once healed a broken metatarsal (foot) bone in 24 hours by rubbing arnica oil on it (as opposed to the standard 6-8 weeks in plaster).

In 2017, broken foot bones sustined at J-Bay saw him out of action for months, a more typcial recovery time.

Honours: Slater

The Verdict

Just as you suspected, Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor in indeed the Greatest Athlete of All Time, winning this bout 4-2 (1 tie).

If Kelly were to win the next 5 world titles in a row, while hoping Taylor stays retired, he could, in theory, force us to rewrite this piece as early as  in late 2022…

In Portugal, where darts is inexplicably still a minority sport, Slater is much bigger than Phil Taylor. Photo: Timo


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