The Top Male Gymnasts of All Time

01
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Kohei Uchimura

Kohei Uchimura
© Harry How / Getty Images

Japan's Kohei Uchimura has won five straight world all-around titles. Yes, you read that correctly. He's utterly dominated the field since the 2008 Olympics -- and even in that competition, he won the all-around silver despite two falls on pommel horse. He competes with picture-perfect form and incredible amplitude on many of his skills, especially on his best events, high bar, parallel bars and floor.

At the 2012 Olympics he won all-around gold, and since then, he's continued to wrack up all-around title after all-around title, all with grin on his face -- as if the sport is easy for him.

And it clearly is.

02
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Vitaly Scherbo

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Vitaly Scherbo wins the gold medal in the all-around at the 1992 Olympics. © Shaun Botterill / Allsport / Getty Images

While Uchimura has dominated the major all-around titles over a span of many years, Soviet gymnast Vitaly Scherbo was the king in the early '90s, utterly ruling entire competitions. Case in point: At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Scherbo won six gold medals: He won gold with the Unified Team*, in the all-around, and in four of the six individual events (pommel horse, rings, vault, and parallel bars.)

It was an astounding performance in a strong field of competitors, and Scherbo backed it up by winning the 1993 world all-around title the next year, and then earning all-around medals at the 1994 and 1995 worlds, and winning bronze at the 1996 Olympics. In each major competition he also took home a boatload of medals in the individual events as well.

Scherbo is the only male gymnast so far in history to have won a world title on every event, as well as the all-around and with his team.

 

* In 1992, the former USSR competed as the Unified Team, then split into independent republics starting in 1996

03
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Alexei Nemov

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Alexei Nemov performing a planche on floor. © 2008 Steve Lange

Russian Alexei Nemov won 12 Olympic medals, including the all-around gold at the 2000 Olympics, and the all-around silver at the 1996 Games. He also earned 13 world medals, including five individual event gold medals, showing, like Scherbo, that he was dominant across every event.

Nemov also brought a style to his gymnastics that few others ever have. He was a master at sticking landings, and had perfect technique on many of his skills.  Off the equipment, he was charismatic and, during the height of his popularity, he was even nicknamed "Sexy Alexei."

04
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Nikolai Andrianov

A gymnastics picture of Soviet gymnast Nikolai Andrianov
Nikolai Andrianov. © Tony Duffy / Getty Images

Soviet gymnast Nikolai Andrianov won 15 Olympic medals during his career from 1972-1980 -- which stood as the record for most Olympic medals in any sport until 2008, when swimmer Michael Phelps surpassed his total medal count.

Andrianov competed in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics, and was successful in all three, but in 1976 he was truly dominant, winning four golds (all-around, floor, rings, and vault), two silvers (team and parallel bars), and a bronze (pommel horse). He held the record for most gold medals in gymnastics in a single Olympics until Scherbo beat his record in 1992.

05
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Dmitry Bilozerchev

Soviet Gymnast Dmitry Bilozerchev competes at the 1988 Olympics
Dmitry Bilozerchev. © David Leah / Mexsport / Getty Images

Soviet gymnast Dimity Bilozerchev became the youngest world all-around champion in the history of men's gymnastics when he won the gold at age 16 at the 1983 World Championships. The gymnastics prodigy also earned gold on the pommel horse, rings, and high bar, and won silver on floor and with the team. He was slated to be a superstar at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, but the Soviet Union and other countries boycotted the competition as payback for the US (and other countries) boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.

Bilozerchev won five gold medals at the 1984 Alternate Games, a competition that served as an alternative to the Olympics for communist countries involved in the boycott. In 1985, Bilozerchev was in a car accident, and received a leg injury so severe that doctors at the time thought they might have to amputate it. When they were able to save his leg, they predicted Bilozerchev might walk again but would never compete in gymnastics. 

But Bilozerchev vowed to return to the sport, and in 1987, at the Rotterdam worlds, he once again earned the all-around title, as well as gold with the Soviet team and on the pommel horse and high bar.

At the 1988 Olympics he earned three gold medals and a bronze, and during his career he won 12 world medals. Without the injury and boycott, his tallies may well have been much higher.