Let's start a barroom argument. Who are the toughest athletes in sports? Well, hang on a second. How do you define tough? The ability to take and deliver a shot or ten? To play hurt and still play well? The utter refusal to give in to pressure, circumstance, or more physically imposing foe? To dominate one's opponents or even one's sport? How about the ability to overcome serious personal setbacks, such as a dire injury or illness, and return to the highest level of performance? How about sheer longevity in a punishing, demanding game?

We've considered all of those things while sorting through long lists of worthy candidates. Our Top 25 (in order, says us) contains some surprising choices. We've also put together a list of current notables in the four major pro sports and a photo gallery of the greatest old school toughs -- legends who are no longer active, surely to the relief of their beleaguered foes.

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