There have been several great athletes in the last decades who joined the world of politics after their sports career. Some of them worked at local level, some of them got even higher and became ministers or senators. They were all famous and loved by thousands of people during their career and though they could use their popularity to get the votes as well. Let’s see who were successful in doing so, the most famous athletes in politics.
Making this list it was obvious that athletes in the US are more likely to choose politics as a second career than athletes from the rest of the world. Probably in the US people are more attracted to athletes and trusting them even without previous political experience, while voters in Europe are more traditional. But we can find a few examples in other countries as well for athletes who managed to get into high positions and take part in the governing of their country.
7. Bill Bradley
As a New York Knicks player Bill Bradley won two NBA titles in 1970 and 1973. He also won a gold medal in the 1964 Olympic Games as a member of the American team. He was voted in the All-Star team in 1973 and into the Hall of Fame in 1983. After his retirement Bradley ran for a seat in the US Senate for New Jersey and won it in 1979. He kept his seat until 1997, and even ran for the presidential nomination in the Democratic Party in 2000. Though he was unsuccessful in the latter, Bradley was still one of the most successful athletes in politics. Not sure if any current NBA player can follow his sample, but hopefully we can see them back on the basketball court soon.
6. Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura was a legend in WWF wrestling in the 1970s and 1980s, and a colorful character of the sport. He won the Pacific Northwest Wrestling title twice and the tag team title five times. After his retirement he became a commentator and acted in films like the Predator. Then in 1991 Ventura was elected as the mayor of Brooklyn Park in Minnesota and worked there until 1995. In 1998 he defeated the Republican and Democratic candidates as a candidate of the Reform Party and became the governor of Minnesota until 2003 as online sportsbooks news in the US were also reporting.
5. Vitali Klitschko
The former three-time world heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko became a professional boxer in 1996. The Ukrainian giant won the WBO heavyweight title in the same year and was undefeated until 2000. He became world famous after his fight against Lennox Lewis in 2003, which he lost due to his wound on his eyes. But he was the better fighter during the match. He got the WBC title in the following year and kept it until his final retirement in 2013.
Klitschko started his political career during his boxing career in 2004, when he supported Viktor Yuschenko. He became the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform party and was elected to the parliament in 2012. He was also elected as the Mayor of Kyev in 2014, and he still holds this position now.
4. Imran Khan
One of the greatest cricketers of the 20th century, Pakistani Imran Khan is the current Prime Minister of Pakistan. Before choosing politics, Khan was the captain of the Pakistan national cricket team which won the first and only World Cup title in 1992. He had his debut in the team at the age of 18 in 1971 and had a long and successful career until 1992. Pakistan will play next in the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 where they have the odds of 13.00 to win at Bovada Sportsbook.
After retiring Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and won a seat in the National Assembly in 2002. He resigned in 2007 as a protest against general Musharraf who was running for president without resigning as army chief. But in 2018 he reached the top of his career as his party won the election and he became the prime minister.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Before becoming the ultimate action star and the governor of the State of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger achieved success in bodybuilding. He won the Mr Universe title at the age of only 20 then won the Mr Olympia contest seven times. He is considered as one of the most important figures in the history of the sport. While the Arnold Classic, the competition named after him is one of the most prestigious events in bodybuilding.
Schwarzenegger got into politics in the early 1990s, when he worked in the Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under the George Bush administration. He was elected as the governor of California in 2003 and served in this position until 2011. There were rumors about his running for President, but as a dual citizen it’s not allowed by the laws. But you can already make a bet on the winner of the next election on online gambling sites in the US.
2. Manny Pacquiao
In the most famous athletes in politics we find one of the greatest boxers of all time, Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino is the only boxer who has won the world title in eight different weight classes. And the only athlete to hold world championship titles over four decades from the 1990s to the 2020s. He has also become successful in politics during his sporting career. At the moment he has been serving as a Senator of the Philippines since his election in 2016. Before that he was representing his province in the House of Representatives between 2010 and 2016. Pacquiao hasn’t retired from boxing yet and still holds the WBA welterweight title since 2019. Odds for his and for other boxing games are available on Bovada Sportsbook.
1. George Weah
George Weah is one of the greatest African football players of all time as we discussed it earlier. He had a long and successful career playing for Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City. The only African Ballon d’Or winner got involved in politics after his retirement. He founded the Congress for Democratic Change and ran for President unsuccessfully in 2005. But he was elected into the Liberian Senate in 2014 and finally as the President of Liberia in 2017. Weah is the first former professional footballer to become a head of state, that’s why he is leading this list.