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From Pakistan great Imran Khan to Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, sporting stars who tasted success in politics

A few sporting superstars have made a successful transition into the world of politics

Ajit Vijaykumar 2018/07/29

Sporting stars mean a lot to fans. Sometimes their stardom burns bright well after their playing days are over and a few succeed in turning that goodwill into something more substantial – a political career.

Quite a few stars have carved successful political careers, rising to very high positions. The latest sporting icon to join the list, and also top it, is former Pakistan captain Imran Khan who is set to take oath as the country’s next Prime Minister.

Here we take a look at five stars who have made a successful switch to politics and reached high level of government.

GEORGE WEAH

Liberian President George Weah with King Philippe of Belgium.

The Liberian played for clubs in France, Italy and England during a successful 14-year career. He started at the top level with Monaco in 1988 before moving to PSG, then to AC Milan and also enjoyed spells at Chelsea and Manchester City. His trophy cabinet includes the Ligue 1, Serie A and FA Cup titles. After his playing days were over, Weah moved to politics and after two unsuccessful attempts at the top offices in Liberia, he was elected as President of the country in the 2017 election.

IMRAN KHAN

The charismatic Pakistan all-rounder seemed destined for greater things beyond the cricket field. A graduate from Oxford and a World Cup-winning captain who built world-class cancer hospitals in Pakistan, Imran jumped into politics in 1996 and formed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

After climbing his way up the political ranks, Khan emerged as the next Prime Ministerial candidate in the recently concluded general elections in the country.

MANNY PACQUIAO

One of the most successful boxers of all time. Filipino Manny is the only eight-division world champion in history. He has won 11 major world titles and is the first to win the lineal championship in five different weight classes. His rivalry with Floyd Mayweather was central in boxing’s continued prominence over the last decade.

In 2010, Manny was elected to the House of Representatives in the Philippines and in 2016, Pacquiao was elected as a senator where he will serve his term until 2022.

VITALI KLITSCHKO

Mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko (c).

The Ukrainian boxer has many feathers in his cap. Klitschko is a three-time world heavyweight champion and the second-longest reigning WBC heavyweight champion. At 87 per cent, Vitali possessed one of the highest knockout ratios in heavyweight history.

His utter dominance inside the ring made him a good political prospect. Vitali is currently the mayor of Kiev and head of the Kiev City State Administration. Klitschko is also a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament.

JESSE VENTURA

A champion in every sphere of life. Ventura was a member of the US Navy during the Vietnam War. After his military career was over, he moved to professional wrestling. Along with a long and successful career as a wrestler and commentator, Ventura also appeared in movies like as Predator and The Running Man.

Moving on to politics, Ventura started as mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991 to 1995. He was the Reform Party candidate in the Minnesota governor election of 1998, which he won despite a low-budget campaign and held the post from 1999 to 2003.

Wrestler turned politician: Jesse Ventura.

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chelsea George Weah Imran Khan Jesse Ventura Manchester City Manny Pacquiao Vitali Klitschko