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Conor McGregor Among Few Sportsmen Named In TIME's '100 Most Influential People'

Conor McGregor Among Few Sportsmen Named In TIME's '100 Most Influential People'

It's that Time of year when one of the world's most influential magazines lists it's most influential people on Earth right now, and Conor McGregor joins the likes of Ed Sheeran, Ivanka Trump (and her Dad), Emma Stone, Kim Jong Un, The Pope, and Neymar, in a wide and diverse list.

The list categorises each influencer (we hate that word too but it applies directly here) into five fields; Pioneers, Artists, Leaders, Titans, and Icons.

Each person that makes the list also gets a brief spiel as to what makes them so great by another very famous person, and it was Arnold Schwarzenegger who waxed lyrical about the Dubliner on this occasion.

On McGregor, who wound up in the 'Pioneers' category, Schwarzenegger said:

Conor McGregor is more than a fighter, more than an athlete, more than a champion—although, as the first person in the history of the Ultimate Fighting Championship to hold titles in two weight divisions at once, he is clearly all of those things. Conor is also the rare personality who has become bigger than his sport. That lean, compact body must struggle to keep his enormous character inside.

From the first time I met Conor, I knew he wasn't the type of star you could box into one category. Since I've gotten to know him, I can tell you that what you see on the screen—the now familiar face of mixed martial arts—just scratches the surface. The Dublin native is razor-sharp, disciplined and charismatic. His energy is absolutely contagious, to the point where you almost start shouting in an Irish accent after 30 seconds of hearing that world-famous mouth.

Conor has a fire in his belly that can't be quenched with championship belts. There are no brakes that can stop his engine.

Arnie shouting in an Irish accent is something we'd pay good money to see.

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Elsewhere, there were not too many athletes given a spot on the list, although US gymnast Simone Biles and NBA superstar LeBron James made the cut. Only one footballer was named, and that was neither Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo, but Neymar.

David Beckham was tasked with summing up the Brazilian, and here is what he had to say:

A series of images I once discovered on the Internet shows me and Neymar together over a decade, from when I was at Real Madrid and he was just a young boy to today. Although it does make me feel my age, it also shows the remarkable progression of a young man who at 25 is well on his way to becoming the best player in the world.

It's been clear ever since he signed for Brazilian team Santos at 17 that Neymar is an outstanding talent, a once-in-a-generation type of footballer who has fans on their feet whenever he gets the ball. I've always been struck by his humility. He's respectful and wants to learn, which he proved when he arrived at Barcelona in 2013 to play alongside some of the game's biggest stars.

He has continued to grow as a footballer and as a person since. The pressure on him in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup and at last year's Rio Olympics was likely immense as he carried the hopes of a nation. But you would not have known it. He lives to play the game, and I imagine he approaches it now the same way he did as a boy.

I suspect the recent Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain, when Neymar helped his team to an unforgettable 6-1 win, will be remembered as the moment he stepped up to take on the mantle of best player in the world. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have a new rival to that claim—and Neymar is ready to make his move.

Interesting stuff.

You can read the list in full, as well as the reasoning as to why they made the list, over on Time.com.

Mikey Traynor

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