There are many film personalities who have turned politicians but athletes turning their focus into politics is very rare. Here is a list of 10 popular athletes who realized that their second calling was politics.
1. Imran Khan :
The elections in Pakistan have just concluded and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party have won the majority in the National Assembly and he is now on the verge of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Before turning to politics Imran Khan was the captain of Pakistan Cricket team who had won the World Cup in 1992. It remains the only World Cup that the country has won. Imran is regarded as one of the best all-rounders to have played the game. He is just one of eight cricketers in the world to have achieved the ‘All-rounder’s Triple’ in Test cricket – scoring over 3000 runs and picking over 300 wickets.
2. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore :
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a professional shooter created history at the Commonwealth games held in Manchester in 2002. He set a record of 192 targets out of 200. He won a Silver at the 2003 World Championships, the first time in 40 years that an Indian had achieved the feat. In 2004, he won a silver medal at the Olympics held in Athens, Greece. After his retirement from the Indian army, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2013 and won his Lok Sabha seat from Jaipur (rural). He is now Minister of Sports and the the Minister of State (MoS) for Information and Broadcasting in Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
3. Kirti Azad :
Kirti Azad is the son of former Chief Minister of Bihar Bhagwat Jha Azad so it wasn’t a huge surprise that Kirti shifted his focus from cricket.He was an aggressive right-hand batsman and a quickish offspinner. The highlight of his career was being part of the Indian team that won the 1983 Cricket World Cup. He was previously an MLA from Delhi’s Gole Market constituency. He won the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections from Darbhanga, Bihar and is currently serving his third term.
4. Navjot Singh Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sindu was a swashbuckling right handed opening batsman. He made his debut in 1983 and has played 51 Tests and 136 ODIs for India. He has scored 3,302 runs at an average of 42.13, along with 9 centuries in Test matches. In ODIs, he has scored 4,413 runs at an average of 37.08, with 6 centuries. Later, in 2004, he joined the BJP and successfully contested the General Elections from Amritsar. In 2017, he joined the Congress and currently serves as a Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums in Punjab.
5. Arnold Schwarzenneger
Arnold Schwarzenneger won the Mr. Universe title at age 20 and went on to win the Mr. Olympia contest seven times. The body-builder then shifted his gaze towards Hollywood and gained worldwide fame as a Hollywood action-film icon. His ‘The Terminator’ series remains the most memorable one. Later,he held the office of Governor of California for between 2003 in a special recall election to replace his predecessor Gray Davis. He then won again in 2007 and served a full-term until 2011.
6. George Weah
George Weah is the only African player to have won the FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995 and also won the Ballon d’Or. In 1989, 1994 and 1995, he was also named the African Footballer of the Year, and in 1996, he was named African Player of the Century. Weah spent 14 years playing for clubs in France, Italy, and England. In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. Following his retirement in 2003, he formed the Congress for Democratic Change in 2005. He is now the President of Liberia after winning the elections in 2017.
7. Jack Kemp
Kemp was a professional footballer for 13 years. He played briefly in the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL), but became a star in the American Football League (AFL). He served as captain of both the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills and earned the AFL Most Valuable Player award in 1965. Since retiring in 1970, Kemp emerged as a prominent Republican. He served as Housing Secretary in the administration of President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, having previously served nine terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1971 to 1989. In the 1996 election, he was the Republican Party’s Vice President nominee alongwith presidential nominee Bob Dole. However,they lost to the Democrats’ nominee Bill Clinton and Al Gor.
8. Romário de Souza Faria :
Romário starred for Brazil in their 1994 FIFA World Cup success, receiving the FIFA Golden Ball as player of the tournament. He was named FIFA World Player of the Year the same year. In 1993, he moved to FC Barcelona and won La Liga in his first season and finished top goalscorer with 30 goals in 33 matches.With 55 goals in 70 appearances for Brazil, Romário is the fourth-highest goalscorer for his national team, behind Pelé, Ronaldo and Neymar. He is currently a senator in Brazil and will run for the election as the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
9. Garry Kasparov :
Kasparov is considered as one of the greatest chess players of all time. From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for 225 out of 228 months. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (15) and Chess Oscars (11). Since his retirement he has emerged as a prominent opponent of Vladimir Putin since his retirement in 2005. He had entered the Russia Presidential Race in 2007 as the candidate of the ‘Other Russia’ coalition, which has since been boycotted by mainstream Russian politicians. He is currently chairman for the Human Rights Foundation and chairs its International Council.
10. Manny Pacquiao :
Pacquiao is the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing,having won eleven major world titles, as well as being the first boxer to win the lineal championship in five different weight classes. Pacquiao is also the first boxer in history to win major world titles in four of the original eight weight classes of boxing: flyweight, featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight. Pacquiao was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 during the 15th Congress of the Philippines, representing the province of Sarangani. re-elected in 2013 to the 16th Congress of the Philippines. In June 2016, Pacquiao was elected as a senator and will serve a six-year term until 2022.