5 Sportspersons who have made it big in politics

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Arif Ahmed

Political waters, it is said, are not that deep for a sportsperson to step into when compared to others. Why would they be so? After all, all that glory which he/she brings to their nation (in sports) makes them revered in the eyes of the people- who reaffirm their dedication by voting him to power.

This is why we see a lot of sportspersons today trying their luck in politics, with many of them emerging successful. In this piece, we present you five such sportspersons who have made it really big in politics :

#1 Manny Pacquiao :

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The only 8-division World Champion in boxing history, holder of 11 major world titles, multiple-weight class champion, fighter of the decade (2000) and many more- the list of Manny's boxing achievements doesn't end yet. But you are mistaken if you think that his life is just about Boxing. He is in fact, what we call "the jack of all trades". Apart from being a boxer, he is a basketball player, actor, singer, soldier, businessman, and last but not the least- a politician.

Manny started his political career in 2007- when he lost his first election to the Philippines House of Representatives. Despite the early setback, he continued with his efforts and emerged victorious in the 2010 elections.

There has been no looking back for Manny after that, with back-to-back victories in the Congress and Senate elections in 2013 and 2016 respectively. Currently a Senator for the United National Alliance (UNA), he is widely expected to run for the President of the Philippines in the near future- hopefully in 2022, when his current Senate term ends.

#2 George Weah :

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Considered one of the greatest footballers ever, George Weah's success story is nothing short of a movie. Right from the humble beginnings in Liberia to playing for AC Milan, Weah has had a long journey to the pinnacle. He is the only African player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or (both in 1995).

And not just Football, Weah has made it really big in politics too, although after taking another long journey. Just after his football retirement, he formed the Congress for Democratic Change and contested in the 2005 Liberian Presidential Elections, losing in the second round. Weah however kept trying, but suffered a setback again when he lost the 2011 Vice-Presidential elections.

The year 2014 gave him a reason to cheer as he got elected to the Liberian Senate. But this wasn't the end of the journey for him. Weah wanted to emulate what he had done in football- reaching the pinnacle- and this is why he chose to contest the Presidential Polls again in 2017.

He scaled the summit this time, by being elected the President of Liberia unanimously, and brought to an end that long journey which he had started in 2005.

#3 Imran Khan :

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After being a part of the Pakistani Cricket Team for over two decades, Imran Khan retired after leading the team to win the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

But he was back to the center-stage in 1996, when he launched the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party. He however had a tough job ahead of him. Considered an outsider to politics, Imran was first elected as an MP to the Pakistan National Assembly only in 2002- being the sole candidate from his party to win a seat.

Nonetheless, by 2013, PTI under Imran had become a force to be reckoned with, coming second in the general elections and becoming the principal opposition.

In the run-up to the 2018 general elections, Imran emerged as a favorite for the post of Prime Minister. This did turn into a reality, with the PTI winning the largest number of seats in the elections, and thus beginning Imran’s second tenure as captain.

#4 Romario :

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One of the most prolific football strikers ever with 900-plus goals to his name, Romario needs no introduction. In a career spanning 24 years, he represented the likes of Vasco De Gama, FC Barcelona and the Brazil National Team, winning a string of titles ranging from the La Liga to the FIFA World Cup. At the individual level, Romario has won the Golden Ball and FIFA World Player of the Year (both in 1994), along with being the 4th highest goal scorer for the Brazil National Team (as of October 2018).

After retiring from Football in 2009, he stepped into Brazilian politics, getting elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Brazilian Socialist Party candidate in 2010. In 2014, he was elected to the Brazilian Senate from the Rio de Janeiro State, raking in the highest number of votes in the state’s electoral history.

He joined the Podemos Party in 2017, and intends to run for the Governor of Rio de Janeiro State in the 2018 elections.

#5 Vitali Klitschko :

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Standing high at 6’7’’, Vitali Klitschko a.k.a Dr. Iron Fist was a much feared figure in the boxing world. He dominated the ring throughout his 17-year career, being crowned the world heavyweight champion thrice. He also holds the distinction of never being knocked down in a boxing match.

Klitschko is one of those few sportspersons who have entered into politics while in the prime of their sporting careers. He began his political career in 2006, when he unsuccessfully contested the Kiev Mayoral Elections. Klitschko later became a leader of UDAR Party and was elected MP in the 2012 Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections.

Eventually, his long-cherished dream came true when he was elected the Mayor of Kiev in 2014- the position which he holds currently. Apart from this, Klitschko has often expressed his wish to become Ukraine’s President one day, which can’t be ruled out in the near future.

Edited by Emeka Monyei


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