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“Blood is thicker than water” is a famous saying that has been around for a very long time now. It has been used time and again to stress on the strong hold that family has over our lives. However, it is an undeniable fact that this assertion holds truer for some families than others. The world of sports has been a blessing on a global scale to a lot of its lovers. Also, it’s been a playground upon which different members of the same family have displayed their remarkably athletic genes to the world, to show that, truly, someblood are thicker than water. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once famously said that, “You don’t choose your family”, but if it were possible to do so, the following families couldn’t have chosen any better.
1. The Klitsckos (Boxing)
Any decent fan of boxing would easily recognize what the Klitscko name means in the world of boxing. The Ukranian brothers, Vitali and Wladimir Klitscko, made their professional debuts in Hamburg in 1996 and progressed to become world heavyweight champions on their own. The two brothers both held world championship titles in 2008; an unprecedented feat that was the first of its kind in boxing history. When Vitali won the WBC world heavyweight championship belt that year, Wladamir was the reigning WBO, IBF and IBO world heavyweight champion. They held on to these titles for a remarkable 2 years, 5 months and 13 days. The older Vitali retired in 2013 to pursue political ambitions in Ukraine, but Wladamir continues to wax stronger in the world of boxing. The Klitsckos have a combined professional boxing record of 109 wins and 5 defeats.
The names of Brian and Michael Laudrup may ring the loudest bells in football circles, but the Laudrup family line has produced seven professional footballers, across three generations; Finn Laudrup, Ebbs Skovdahl, Michael Laudrup, Brian Laudrup, Nikolai Laudrup, MadsLaudrup, and Andreas Laudrup. Michael Laudrup played in the famous “Dream Team” of Barcelona, winning four consecutive league titles, one Copa Del Rey, two Spanish Super Cups and the European Cup in 1992. He went on to sign for their fierce rivals, Real Madrid, where he won another league title. Michael’s brother, Brian Laudrup, most notably found his footballing feet in the Scottish League with Rangers, winning three Scottish League titles, a league cup and a Scottish Cup. He won the Danish Player of the Year award for a record four times.
Brian also won the 1992 European Championships with the Denmark national team, a tournament that Michael missed because he fell out with the manager. Both brothers were named in the FIFA All Star Team of the France ’98 World Cup, and both are listed in the FIFA 100 List of 125 Greatest Players. Undoubtedly, the Laudrup family line has produced two remarkably outstanding football legends already; it remains to be seen whether Michael’s two sons, Mads and Andreas can carry on the baton.
The names of Venus and Serena Williams have reverberated around tennis circles since the sisters made their professional debuts in 1994 and 1995 respectively. Older sister, Venus, is a seven-time Grand Slam title winner in the singles division, while Serena has won a remarkable twenty one. In what is a genuinely complete family affair, both professional athletes have been coached and managed from the onset of their careers by their parents, Richard Williams and Oracene Price. The sisters have both been ranked World Number 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association at separate times in their careers. They have collaborated in the doubles division on many occasions and have won 21 doubles titles. They also have four Olympic gold medals (1 each in the singles, and three in the doubles) to adorn their trophy cabinets. Despite their professional rivalry (they have faced off against each other in eight Grand Slam finals), both sisters remain very close to each other, often watching eachother’s matches in support.
Anyone would be forgiven for living under the large shadow of boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. He’s only the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time! Most boxing fans would also be forgiven for not knowing that three other members of the Ali family stepped inside the ring and tried to box out of Muhammad’s shadow. Ali’s daughter, super middleweight, Laila Ali; his brother, Rahaman ‘Rudy’ Ali; and his nephew, Ibn Ali, all boxed. And despite the fact that they didn’t have as much success as the famous Muhammad, they didn’t drag the family name through the mud either. Rudy won 14, lost 3, and drew 1 of his 18 professional bouts, while Laila remained undefeated in her professional career with 24 wins; winning the IBA, WIBA, and IWBF titles before her retirement in 2007. Ibn also has a decent 10 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw record.
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The name of Paolo Maldini should ring deafening bells in the ears of modern football fans. What some of them might not know though is the fact that before the Italian left back donned the famous red and black stripes of Serie A giants, AC Milan, his father, Cesare Prandelli had captained the same side as a center back for five years in his twelve successful seasons with the Rossoneri; winning 4 Scudetti and an European Cup.
Regarded in football circles as one of the greatest defenders that have ever graced the game, Paolo remarkably eclipsed his father’s exploits with the famous Italian side, playing till the age of 41. He won 7 Scudetti, 5 Champions League trophies, a Coppa Italia title, 5 Supercoppa trophies, 5 European Super Cups, 2 Intercontinental Cups, and a FIFA Club World Cup, captaining the side for many of these glory years. His leadership skills and exemplary behavior earned him the nickname “Il Capitano” which translates to “The Captain”.
What makes the Maldinis’ story even more interesting is that Cesare became a manager after retirement, and was manager of the Italian national team in 1998, a time when his son, Paolo, was captain of the side. Cesare also briefly coached AC Milan for a second time in 2001; Paolo was captain again. Paolo’s sons, Christian and Daniel, are currently in the Youth Team of AC Milan. Fingers remain crossed on just how long the Maldini dynasty will last.
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