The sixth emperor of the Mesoamerican Postclassical Aztec Empire, Axayacatl's best remembered military feat was the conquering and subjugation of neighbouring city-state Tlatelolco (he ruled from Tenochtitlan, as was customary for the overall emperor of the Aztecs.)  According to 16h century Spanish missionary and historian  Fray Juan de Torquemada, Axayacatl once played a match of the legendary Mesoamerican ball game against rival leader of the Xochimilco,  Xihuitlemoc. On this game he wagered the sum of an entire year's income! 

Donald Bell



Donald Simpson Bell was a noted as an excellent sportsman even as he was studying to become an English teacher. He played at an amateur level for Newcastle United and Crystal Palace, before eventually signing a professional contract with Bradford Park Avenue in 1912, to supplement his teacher's income. When Donald joined up at the outbreak of World War I, he became the first professional footballer to do so. Bell proved to be a first-rate soldier too, rising through the ranks rapidly and winning the Victoria Cross for an act of unspeakable gallantry at the Battle of the Somme, charging and neutralizing a German machine-gun emplacement. It was an act similar to this that tragically killed him just a few weeks later.

Baron Takeichi Nishi



Baron Nishi was recently depicted in Clint Eastwood's letters From Iwo Jima. But, despite the film role being slightly romanticized, the fact remains that Nishi was indeed an aristocratic, Olympic gold medal-winning, show-jumping commander of tanks. He is pictured here with his horse, Uranus, with whom he won the Gold medal for individual show jumping in the 1932 summer Olympics. During the desperate Battle for Iwo Jima, Nishi commanded a unit of tanks, and was eventually killed in action.

Jack Lummus




Like Bell, Jack Lummus was highly decorated for his service in the war, and like Nishi, he fought, and died at Iwo Jima. he was a talented American Football player, who forged a career with the New York Giants before serving with the Marine Corps. Lummus was in the first wave of men to attack Iwo Jima,where he was mortally wounded by a land mine. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. 

Louis Zamperini

When he was young, Zamperini's was bullied because of his Italian origins, quickly becoming an adept boxer in order to defend himself. But it was as a runner that Zamperini would really shine, eventually qualifying for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Although he finished eighth overall in the 5000 meter distance event, apparently even Adolf Hitler was said to be impressed with Zamperini's lighting-quick final lap. Zamperini became a B-24 bombardier in WWII, and after an brief but intense combat career in which his plane was badly shot up, he eventually crashed in the ocean near Oahu due to a mechanical failure. After surviving an incredible ordeal lost at sea, Zamperini and two fellow surviving crewmen were captured by the Japanese navy, after which he was held captive in appalling conditions in various Japanese prison camps until the end of the war.


So, what make you of our list? Do you know of any other sportsmen who served and fought? Get in touch and let us know!