If you had to ask any volleyball fan who is the greatest male player to ever play the game most would say Karch Kiraly. I would argue that he was the best indoor and outdoor player to play the game but Kent Steffes was the greatest player to play beach Volleyball period. For me the comparison is simple, if you were a betting man would you take Mike Tyson at his best or would you take Muhammad Ali at his best. I would take the 20 year old “Iron Man,” “Baddest Man on the Planet,” Mike Tyson.
Lets look at Mike Record: The youngest heavyweight titles holder at 20 years, 4 months, and 22 days old. Tyson won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout, 12 of them in the first round. Now lets look at Kent Steffes record and compare it to any beach volleyball player male player in the history of the sport.
Kent Steffes Beach Volleyball Record
- The youngest #1 player in the history of AVP – Age 21
- Greatest Beach Volleyball player in the 1990s and most dominant player of the 1990s (As voted by the AVP)
- Holds the record with the highest winning percentage in history of the sport. (.482)
- He hold the record with the most wins in a season at 19 Wins.
- Shares the record with most consecutive wins at 13 in a Season. Record shared with Karch Kiraly, Menges and Lee.
- First Gold Medalist in Beach Volleyball at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
- He won 104 of 215 total events played in! (48.2%) – Karch (41.8%) Keep in mind Kent was moving into his prime years and only getting better!
- He placed in the top 3 – 156 out of 215 event! (72.6%) – Karch (70.9%) Keep in mind Kent was moving into his prime years and only getting better!
- He placed in the top 5 – 190 out of 215 events! (88.3%) – Karch (70.1%) Keep in mind Kent was moving into his prime years and only getting better!
- He retired at age 30! I think most would agree, beach volleyball players do not hit their prime till mid 30’s. Lets think about that… That means if he played 9 season, there were little over 250 AVP and FIVB events during those 9 years, add scheduling conflicts, so lets reduce to 200 events at 40% win rate he should have at least another 80 titles…
- So had he played we are looking at 188 Wins vs. Karch 144 wins. Now if he played till age 42 like Karch we and given how athletes tend to be able to play at a high level longer nowadays, we are talking maybe close to 200 Wins…
- So for all you Karch Lovers – Its hard to argue with the stats!!!
For me the best measure is career winnings. Kent Steffes earned $2,490,000 while earned Karch Kiraly $3,115,000. But keep in mind how many years less Kent played and how many less tournaments he entered. (He would have likely broken the $4,000,000 mark had he not retired at just 30!)
I have added some video from perhaps one of the best and most anticipated volleyball games in the history of the sport of volleyball. In the game you have Karch and Kent verse Sinjin and Carl at the Olympics in Atlanta. Sinjin and Carl have multiple match points and it is obvious from watching the game they are going after Karch. Kent literally save the match for them and gets them into the finals!
Andor Gyulai – “I asked Sinjin and he said Kent save them on a straight down block that was insane for match point!”
There are numerous examples in this match but the ace to give them match point, wow!
For those of you that still want to argue with me, maybe we can agree, Karch and Kent Steffes, the greatest team ever!
How does Karch place in the top three more than he places in the top 5, that’s impossible.
Need to review, will check numbers on BVB…
You are also factoring in 80 more wins if he kept playing, and that would have to have been with Karch otherwise the dynamics completely change. Flawed assumptions.
Steve, I disagree! Kent was winning without Karch before they join as well as when Karch was injured! The reality is, and I have to ask this question, would Karch have won if he was playing Kent and Loyola or Kent and … I am not sure as history show Kent won with others!
Finally, in that clip Karch completely outplayed Kent with more digs, more blocks and the coverage by Kent when Karch got blocked was not match point it was 13-13. Maybe I’m missing something, but Kent didn’t dig anything or block anything. He did get an ace. I’m done making a case for the greatest of all-time, it’s pretty easy to figure out.
Thanks for your feedback Steve, I spoke to Sinjin about the game and they felt like Karch was the weaker player. I appreciate your input!
Awesome debate, i would have to give the edge to Kent with all the circumstances and factors that played out in history. But if Karch played more beach vball earlier in his career instead of going off to play so much indoor vball, i bet Karch stats would be better as well and we might not even have this debate. I do think Kent playing the weak side hitter, he could easily pair up with many other players, but i don’t know if that would make the difference on who would have a more successful stats over course of career.
Thanks for your comment, while playing together Kent tended to get the MVP title each year. Also stats go both ways, had Kent kept playing his stats would be far better. Keep also in mind Kent played with Karch at a very young age. How good would he have been because of this? Karch did not have this?
Also at the Olympics or if you talk to any of the old pros most tended to go after Karch vs. Kent when they played together.
And the debate continues. I am happy Kent is in the conversation because some people ignore him completely!