10 sportsmen who became successful politicians
Sportsmen venturing into politics is nothing new in the world today. Many stars after retiring from their respective sports have tried a hands at the politics, but only a few have succeeded in holding important political positions in their countries.
The Live Mirror takes a look into the 10 such sports personalities who are as famous during their political career as they were during their time in the field of play.
Sportsmen Turned Successful Politicians
The only African player to win to the FIFA World Player of the Year (1989, 1994, and 1995) and the Ballon d’Or (1995), George Weah is considered to be among the greatest African players of all time. In a career that spanned 18-years, Weah played for a host of top European clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, AC Milan and Monaco, winning league titles in France as well as in Italy.
Following the end of the second Liberian civil War, the striker who had retired from the game in 2003, announced his intention to run for the Presidential election of Liberia in 2005. He formed the Congress for Democratic Change political party in the same year but was unsuccessful. Criticised by many from the opposition parties, for his lack of political knowledge – they called him ‘babe in the woods’ – he eventually was elected to the Liberian Senate in 2014. Four years later he was elected as the President of Liberia, winning by more than a 60% majority of votes.
From a cricket legend to the political saviour of Pakistan, it has certainly been a fairy-tale run for Imran Khan, who has emerged as the next Prime Ministerial candidate, with his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leading the vote count by a big margin in the general elections on Thursday, Khan looks all set to take over.
One of the greatest all-rounders of the game, the 65-year-old had captained Pakistan to their only World Cup victory in 1992. With 300+ wickets and over 3000 runs, he is also one of the just eight cricketers to have achieved the ‘All-rounder’s Triple’ in Test cricket.
He retired from the game the game post the World Cup and formed the PTI political party in 1996 and after repeated failures and many controversial moments – that saw him tear his nomination paper in the 2008 General elections – Khan finally seems to have savoured the taste of glory. He is tipped to become the next Prime-Minister of Pakistan.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore
From working in the military to winning multiple gold-medals for India in various national and international tournaments, India’s current Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has had a terrific journey. He was the first Indian Indian to win a silver-medal at the Olympics and his record of hitting 192 targets out of 200 shots at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, still stands. He also won a silver at the 2003 World Championships, which was for the time in 40 years that India had won a medal at the competition.
Rathore, who took a voluntary retirement from the army in 2013, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. In 2014, he was elected to the Parliament as an MP and was also appointed as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. Three years later he was appointed as the Sports Minster.
One of the greatest boxers of all-time, Manny Pacquiao serves as the Senator of Philippines. He currently ranks in number four in BoxRec’s ranking of the greatest pound for pound boxers of all time. Named as the “Fighter of the Decade” by the Boxing Writers Association of America, the 39-year-old is the first boxer in history to win major world titles in four of the eight weight classes of boxing: flyweight, featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight.
He was elected to the House of Representatives of Philippines in 2010 and was re-elected for the same post in 2013. In June, 2016, Pacquiao was elected as the Senator on a six-year term. Pacquiao has also ventured into music, acting, anchoring and business.
The founding father of Fiji, Kamisese Mara was the first Prime-Minister of the country from 1970-1992. He also served as the President of Fiji from 1993-2000.
Mara, who passed away in 2004, had played in two first-class matches in New Zealand. He had scored 64 and taken eight wickets in those two matches, while Fiji was still under colonial rule of the United Kingdom. He also served as the Chief-Minister of the then colonized Fiji from 167 to 1970.
Navjot Singh Sidhu
Known as “Sixer Sidhu” for his power hitting, former Indian cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu joined politics in 2004, contesting in Amritsar for the Bharatiya Janta Party. He won his first election by a big margin and worked for the local government in Punjab. He also was a member of the Rajya Sabha in 2016 but resigned and joined the Congress in the following year. Sidhu currently serves as a Cabinet Minister for the Punjab state government.
The 54-year-old who made his international debut in 1983, smashed four consecutive 50s at the 1987 World Cup. He was ruthless against the spinners and especially took Shane Warne to the cleaners in the 1997-98 series against Australia.
Sidhu has also had a career in Television, appearing in multiple shows and also worked as a commentator for many years. He also acted in a TV series named Kareena Kareena in 2004-05.
The former Indian captain still considered to be one of the most elegant batsman India has ever produced led India in 174 ODI and 47 Test matches. He was among the most successful captains of the country, captaining the team to 90 ODI victoires and 14 Test match wins, until the match-fixing scandal ended his cricketing career in 2000.
He was banned for life by the BCCI, India’s prime cricket body. In a bid to raise his damaged reputation, Azharuddin joined the National Congress in 2009 and was elected as a member of the Parliament, where he served from 2009-2014.
A movie based on his life was also released in 2016. The Biopic tittled ‘Azhar’ had Emraan Hashmi playing the role of the tarnished cricketer, Azharuddin has also disclosed his intention to re-contest the election in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
A Hollywood icon, who had ruled the English movie industry with many power-packed performances in the 90s era, Arnold served as the 38th Governor of California, USA from 2003 to 2011. But before entering politics and the Hollywood industry, the 70-year-old was a professional body-builder and power-lifter.
Beginning at the teenage age of 15, Arnold went on to become one of the greatest body-builders of all-time, winning the Mr. Olympia contest a record seven times. He was called the ‘Austrian Oak’ during in his body-building days, ‘Arnie’ in the Hollywood industry and the ‘Governator’ during his time as the governor.
Former captain of the Indian national team, Prasun Banerjee who played as a defensive midfielder joined the Trinamool Congress in 2013. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in the same year, making him the first professional footballer to be a member of the Parliament.
The 63-year-old who represented India in over 100 football matches, is the only second Indian player to for an Asian All-star XI. He was part of the Asian team that played against Brazil. A Mohun Bagan legend, Banerjee was also part of the famous Green-Maroon team, who held a Pele led New York Cosmos to 2-2 draw in Kolkata, 1977.
A former President of Uganda from 1971-1979, the late Amin is best remembered for his cruel reign, during which he spread terror all over the country, killing many people during his rule. He took power after the defeating the then President Milton Obote in a military coup in 1971.
But during the years Uganda was under the colonized rule of the United Kingdom, Amin was a prominent boxer serving in the British army and later in the Uganda national army. He won the Light Heavyweight Championship between 1951and 1960.
These were the top 10 Sportsmen turned into successful Politicians. Let us know which once are your favourite in the comments below?