Imran Khan as next Pak PM? Here are some sporting icons who made impact in politics
Former Pakistani cricket captain Imran Khan was favourite to emerge as the next prime minister of his country which went to the general elections on Wednesday, July 25.
Though it was not clear whether his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) will be able to form a government of its own, Khan's charisma and personality cult already made him the prime minister 'select' of the nation which will see only its second democratic power transition in almost 71 years.
However, there is no dearth of sports personalities turning into their respective countries' top politicians in world history. Here is a glimpse of some prominent sporting icons who evolved into premier politicians:
George Weah: The 'Pele of Africa' George Weah, a former FIFA world player of the year and winner of the prestigious Ballon D'Or, became the president of Liberia in December 2017, taking oath as its 25th incumbent.
Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Austria-born former bodybuilder won several international titles before moving into Hollywood for acting. However, Schwarzenegger, now 70, was also known for his stint in politics as he served as a Republican governor of California between 2003 and 2011.
Jack Kemp: The late Jack Kemp was a star quarterback in American football in the 1960s and went on to serve as a Republican Congressman for 18 years. Kemp, who passed away in 2009 at 74, rose as a conservative hero to the Grand Old Party's Ronald Reagan wing.
Garry Kasparov: A former Russian world chess champion who could only be beaten by a computer, Garry Kasparov, 55, formed a pro-democracy group called United Civil Front in Russia after his retirement in 2005. The front is a part of The Other Russia, an opposition coalition that works against the Vladimir Putin regime. Kasparov has been known to be a political activist since 1990.
Romario: The hero of Brazil's 1994 World Cup victory, Romario de Souza, is currently a senator in Brazil and will run for the election as the governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, which has been hit by violence and economic failure. Fifty-two-year-old Romario, who has earned a name for his fight against corruption in football, will contest for the centrist Podemos party.
Idi Amin: Former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, whose reign of terror in the 1970s saw 300,000 to 500,000 people perishing, was also a national light heavyweight boxing champion in the 1950s besides a good rugby player and swimmer. Amin was often rumoured to be a cannibal and is held responsible for the decline of Uganda, a country with an economic potential.
Ted Dexter: The former captain of England cricket team, Ted Dexter belonged to the gentleman's era in cricket. In 1964, when he was yet to turn 30, Dexter decided not to play in a series against South Africa and contested Labour Party's James Callaghan, who became the prime minister of the UK in the mid-1970s, from Cardiff South-East constituency in an election. Dexter was defeated in the election but his reputation as a cricketer made his a name to remember for a brief flirtation with politics.
In India, too, we have seen a number of sportsmen, mainly from the arena of cricket, trying their luck in politics. From the late Nawab of Pataudi Mansoor Ali Khan to Navjyot Singh Sidhu to Mohammed Azharuddin to Kirti Azad to Chetan Chauhan, a number of cricketers have entered politics and also contested elections. Not all of them were successful but some have been.
One of the former non-cricketing sportsperson who has succeeded in making a space of his own in politics is Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, an Olympic medal winner in shooting who is currently the minister of state (independent charge) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.