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20 Athletes Who Became Politicians

/ November 17, 2014

Politicians need to connect with people who they are supposed to serve. They need the support of people to win elections. Successful athletes are usually popular. Over the years many athletes have become politicians after retirement.

Here is some 20 athletes who became politicians.

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines Congressman; 2010-present)

Manny Pacquiao is the first and only eight-division world champion. On May 13 2010, he was officially proclaimed Congressman of the line district of Sarangani. He defeated Chiongbian clan, which had been in power in the province for more than 30 years.



Romario (Senator; 2010-present)

Romario was elected to the Chamber of Deputies on the Brazilian Socialist Party ticket in 2010 general election. He had denounced the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as immersed in corruption and money laundering. In 2014, he was elected to the Brazilian senate.


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Bebeto (State Deputy; 2010-present)

Bebeto is the fifth highest goal scorer for the Brazilian national team. He entered politics in 2010 Brazilian general election and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro.


Fotos Sergio Savarese via

Jon Runyan (US Congressman; 2010-present)

This NFL offensive tackle played for the Philadelphia Eagles. Today he is a Republican and has been the US Representative from New Jersey’s third District since 2011. He has voted for the Patriot Act and off-shore oil drilling.


Dave Bing (Mayor of Detroit, MI; 2009-2013)

This seven-time All-Star guard in the NBA was voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. He played for Detroit Pistons. He won a special election after former mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, resigned in disgrace.


Dave Hogg via

Kevin Johnson (Mayor of Sacramento, CA; 2008-present)

This three-time NBA All-Star holds the Phoenix Suns franchise record for assists, free throws made and free throws attempted. He was the first African-American to ever be elected Mayor of Sacramento.

Kevin Johnson

Randy Miramontez /

Heath Shuler (US Congressman; 2007-2013)

Heath Shuler played as quarterback for New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. He was a member of the Democratic Party and the Blue Dog Coalition. His congressional district covered the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.

Heath Shuler

Lynn Swann (Republican Candidate for Governor; 2006)

This American former professional football player was the Republican nominee to run against the incumbent Ed Rendell for Pennsylvania in the year 2006. He joined the Augusta National Golf Club in 2009.

Lynn Swann

Jenn Grover via

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor of California; 2003-2011)

Arnold Schwarzenegger won several awards, including the title of ‘Mr. Universe’ and is considered the greatest body builder of all time. This moderate conservative won the 2003 recall election by more than one million votes. He won another term in 2006. His major accomplishment was passing the first greenhouse emissions cap of any kind within the US.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Featureflash /

Steve Largent (US Congress; 1994-2002)

This retired American football player is also a former Republican politician. He served in the US House of Representatives for Oklahoma from 1994 to 2002. He played for Seattle Seahawks and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995.

Steve Largent

Tom Osborne (US Congressman; 1995-2003)

Tom Osborne was the head coach of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team for 25 years. During his eight years in office as the Republican representative of Nebraska’s third district, only one Osborne-sponsored bill became law.

Tom Osborne

Vitali Klitschko (Mayor of Kiev; 2014)

This former professional boxer is the Mayor of Kiev. He is the head of the Kiev City State Administration. This Ukrainian politician is the leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform and a former member of the Ukrainian Parliament. Holding a PhD degree in Sports Science, Klitschko was the first professional boxer to have Phd.



J. C. Watts (US Congressman; 1995-2003)

This quarterback was drafted by the New York Jets to be a running back, but decided to play quarterback in Canada instead. He led the Ottawa Rough Riders to the Grey Cup championship game in 1981. He was the first Republican African-American congressman to be elected from any southern state in 120 years when he won the seat in Oklahoma’s fourth district.


Bill Bradley (US Senator; 1979-1997)

Bill won two world championships with the New York Knicks. This Rhodes Scholar was popular during his time in New Jersey. He continuously won re-election till he resigned from his post. Currently he hosts a radio show in Sirius.


American Spirit /

Jim Bunning (US Senator; 1999-2011)

This American former Major League Baseball pitcher is only one of twenty pitchers in Major League history to throw a perfect game. He joined the US Senate in 1999 and was ranked the second most conservative senator in the nation before his retirement in 2011.

Jack Kemp (US Congressman; 1971-1989)

This Hall of Fame quarterback held many positions within the government. In 1989 President George H. W. Bush appointed him the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He passed away in 2009.

Jack Kemp

George Weah (Presidential Candidate; 2005)

The winner of the 1995 World Player of the Year ran for the highest office in Liberia in 2005. Even though he got the most number of votes in the first ballot, he failed to secure a majority. He was very popular, but was not successful as a politician due to lack of formal education.

George Weah


Zico (Minister of Sports; 1990)

Regarded as the white Pele. Fernando Collor, the then President of Brazil, appointed Zico as his Minister of Sports. He stayed at this political assignment for around one year. His most important contribution was a piece of legislation dealing with the business side of sports teams.



Viktor Orban (Prime Minister; 2010-present)

This former football player is currently the prime minister of Hungary and the president of the national conservative ruling party Fidesz. He played for his local club Felcslut FC. He once cancelled a cabinet meeting to play for them in 2001.

Viktor Orban

360b /

Gianni Rivera (Member of Parliament; 1987-2001)

This Italian former football midfielder spent 19 seasons at Milan, winning two European Cups in the process. He was awarded the Ballon d’Or, one of the most prestigious individual awards in football, in the year 1969. He became a member of the Italian parliament in 1986. Currently he is a member of the European parliament for the left-wing Olive Tree coalition party.

Gianni Rivera

The above-mentioned former athletes have made a smooth transition from the world of sports to the world of politics.