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Friday, November 12, 2010

16 ‘Athletes’ Featured on the Cover of Playboy

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The archetypes of the female athlete's body and the Playboy cover girl's body don't overlap much. The assets of a successful female athlete aren't exactly the body parts that your typical Playboy reader would prize, so when an athlete fits the Playboy mold, it's a pretty big deal. It doesn't happen often, but it happens sometimes. And it happens a lot more if you consider professional wrestlers "athletes," which is totally something we're gonna do, lest this list stop at four or five entries. So, for those of you that think power and the competitive fire is as sexy as a killer rack, this list is for you.

16. Lisa Guerrero - Sportscaster
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Sportscasters are close to athletes, so she makes the cut. In January 2006, Lisa Guerrero made the cover of Playboy after a broadcasting career that included working with Fox Sports NFL and co-hosting the World Series of Pop Culture. While she may not have been garnering the appreciation she wanted from those two roles, the Playboy appearance more than made up for it. Since her appearance, she has racked up over 20 TV appearances on major network, proving that posing for Playboy isn't always a last resort for your career.

15. Kiana Tom - Fitness Expert
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The Irish, Chinese, and Hawaiian Tom had been a fixture on mid-morning ESPN as an exercise show host when she got the call to be on the cover of the May 2002 cover of Playboy. Her balance of athleticism and looks made the issue one of the best-selling of the decade, despite the fact that she was pretty far from a household name.

14. Chyna - WWE
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Chyna was what many considered to be a quintessential female wrestler. Big, muscular, somewhat masculine-looking. However, that didn't stop her legions of fans from beating a path to the newsstands when she appeared on the cover of Playboy in November of 2000 dressed up like Xena: Warrior Princess. Her sex tape, which leaked later, showed that sexuality can take all sorts of weird, weird forms.

13. Arianny Celeste - UFC
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Celeste made recent appearance. Recent like, this month. Arianny Celeste is a ring girl for the UFC and is a 24 year-old from Las Vegas, Nevada. Her self-proclaimed responsibilities consist of "...don’t trip over your feet, and try to look hot and graceful." May her song never die.

12. Rachelle Leah - UFC
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Octagon girls are athletes for the sake of this piece. While her athletic pedigree may be questionable at best, her modeling pedigree is not with pictorials in Maxim, Men's Fitness, 944, Muscle and Fitness, Vegas Magazine and Stuff.

11. Sable - WWE
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Perhaps the most well-known of the WWE girls, Sable seems to set the tone for many of the entrants on this list, so we would be remiss if we didn't include her. With a pretty spectacular three Playboy covers to her name, it's safe to say she helped nurture the tight relationship that would exist between Playboy and the WWE. Her first cover in April of 1999 was one of the highest selling issues of all time, ushering in a new era of semi-talented, mostly attractive WWE vixens.

10. Christy Hemme - WWE
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Christy Hemme was a WWE wrestler and now works as an interviewer (?) for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (double ?). She fancies herself a tomboy (seriously, has there ever been a girl in Playboy who didn’t consider herself a tomboy?), she loves Harleys, and she’s from the California desert. No real surprises here, folks. She’s in the April 2005 issue for those of you…ahem…”scoring” at home.

9. Gabrielle Reece - Volleyball
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Ahhh. An athlete whose athletic credentials stand up to scrutiny. The 6’ 3” bronze volleyball goddess posed in Playboy back in January 2001 at the very end of her marriage to Laird Hamilton, proving that Gabby knows how to twist the knife. However, the two reconciled a year later and are together raising their two children. Sadly, her heyday as a beach volleyball star predated the sport’s inclusion as an Olympic game, but her looks and talent has afforded her many magazine covers and television hosting gigs. The most notable of which was her stint on MTV Sports where one could refer to her as the female Dan Cortese. One shouldn’t, but one could.

8. Ashley Harkleroad - Tennis
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Harkleroad may have only gotten as high as #39 on the ATP circuit, but in August of 2008, she was #1 on the Playboy bunny circuit, scoring a cover and four page fully-nude pictorial. She has the distinction of being the only female tennis player ever to pose for the men’s magazine, a trend we all hope she kickstarts giving the depth and breadth of talent in the sport.

7. Ashley Massaro - WWE
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Uh…5’ 5”, 112. This WWE star got on board with the wrestling gig after winning their 2005 Raw Diva Search. I guess if you’re gonna look for divas, you go after the raw ones first. Makes sense. She also was on Survivor: China, which demonstrates her amazing ability to…be on TV. Also, Rolling Stone magazine alleged that Massaro had been under the employ of an LA escort agency, which actually sounds pretty much in character, though the charges were never substantiated. I guess we’ll never know if this sexy wrestling diva was secretly a streetwalker. Sigh.

6. Mia St. John - Tae Kwon Doe/Boxing
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A graduate of Cal State Northridge, the 43 year-old St. John started off as a college Tae Kwon Doe phenom, having amassed a record of 27-1, but took her talents to greener pastures as a boxer in 1997 under contract to Don King and appearing on several Del Hoya undercards. However, most men probably know her from her 11-page spread in the November 1999 issue of Playboy, earning her the nickname “Bunny Boxer” late in her career.

5. Candice Michelle - WWE
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I’m beginning to think that the WWE and Playboy have some sort of reciprocal use agreement, which would actually make a lot of sense. Known simply as “Candice”, Michelle wrestled in the WWE from 2007-2009 after becoming a Godaddy.com spokesmodel in 2005. She has the word “faith” tattooed on her wrist, which she has publicly declared to be a personal affirmation but, in this writer’s opinion, is probably just a way of showing her enthusiasm when it comes to all things George Michael. Her daughter, AkiAnne Rose was born on May 23rd of this year with a horrible name.

5. Amy Acuff - High Jump
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Acuff graced the famous 2004 “Women of the Olympics” cover having made the cut by not only competing as a high jumper in the 2004 Olympics, but the 1996, 2000, and 2008 Olympics as well. Despite these four appearances, she never placed higher than her fourth-place finish in 2004. Her modeling career has been similarly prolific with appearances in Esquire, FHM, and Maxim in addition to the aforementioned Playboy spread.

4. Torrie Wilson - WWE/WCW
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Wilson graced the cover of the May 2003 issue and was featured again with Sable in the May 2004 issue. Her appearances in the magazine stirred up a whole lot of fake drama in the WWE universe as rival RAW Diva Nidia and her onscreen boyfriend Jamie Noble staged several trips to the Playboy mansion to speak with the man himself regarding his decision to include Wilson and exclude Nidia from the mag. Heady stuff.

3. Maria Kanellis - WWE
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Last WWE girl, I promise. The stunning Kanellis made the cover of the April 2008 issue after having wrestled in the WWE since 2005. In a not-very-shocking turn of events, Kanellis’ appearance in Playboy was turned into a running plot on the wrestling equivalent of “Days of our Lives” which probably ended up with two girls ripping their evening gowns off or something.

2. Amanda Beard - Swimming
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Perhaps the most accomplished athlete on this list (sorry, WWE girls), Beard has competed in four Olympiads and has garnered 7 medals for her efforts, including two golds. As her swimming career wound down, her modeling career was just winding up culminating in a cover in the July 2007 issue of Popular Science. Just kidding. It was Playboy.

1. Katarina Witt - Ice Skating
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This 44 year-old East German vixen posed in December 1998 at the wonderfully mature age of 33. Witt was a perfect match for Playboy as she certainly had (has) the looks and the princess-like qualities of female figure skaters lend themselves well to the gentleman’s magazine. Her appearance in Playboy garnered her what’s perhaps the highest honor available: Playboy sold out of the Katarina Witt issue for only the second time in history. The first? The inaugural issue whose cover featured some chick named Marilyn something.

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