Five sport stars turned politicians

Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan speaks with party leaders at his home in Bani Gala, outside Islamabad. Photo: Reuters
British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe poses at a photo session after a signing ceremony for the British team's Tokyo 2020 Olympic games preparation camp in Tokyo on February 8, 2016. Photo: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP
Sri Lankan cricket coach Graham Ford (L) speak with chief cricket selector Sanath Jayasuriya during a practice session at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo on August 23, 2016. Photo: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi / AFP
Manny Pacquiao poses on the scale during his official weigh-in on May 1, 2015 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: JAMIE SQUIRE / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

JOHANNESBURG – Sports stars are revered on the field of play and some are seen as larger than life figures.

While some have gone off into the sunset after their decorated careers, others have used their popularity to carve out successful political careers.

Here are the five sports stars who have transitioned from the locker room to the political arena.

Imran Khan

Regarded as one of the greatest allrounders of his generation, Khan captained Pakistan to victory in the 1992 World Cup in Australia, where he took the winning last wicket.

He scored six test centuries and took 362 wickets for Pakistan.

Khan entered politics in 1996 when he founded a political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). 

He serves as the parliamentary leader of the party and leads the third largest block of parliamentarians in the National Assembly since 2013.

Sebastian Coe

Coe is a former middle distance runner and won four Olympic medals for Britain, which included a gold at the 1980 Games in Moscow in the 1,500m and a silver in the 800m.

Four years later in Los Angeles, he repeated the same feat. Coe entered politics and was elected as Member of Parliament for Falmouth and Camborne in 1992, for the Conservative Party, but lost his seat in the 1997 general election.

Sanath Jayasuriya

The Sri Lankan opener revolutionised international cricket with his aggressive batting tactics during the 1996 Cricket World Cup.

He was named the most valuable player at the tournament, which Sri Lanka won.

Jayasuriya's international playing spanned over 20 years. In 2010, he ran for public office in the General Elections, winning a legislative seat from his native Matara District.

He then went on to serve as minister in the cabinet of former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Manny Pacquiao

The Filipino is one of the most popular boxers of the last decade. He was ranked number two on ESPN's list of top pound-for-pound boxers of the past 25 years and is the only eight-division world champion in the history of boxing.

In the last 10 years, Pacquiao has juggled his ring life and a political career.

Pacquiao was elected in 2010 to the House of Representatives and in June 2016, he was re-elected as a senator and will serve a six-year term.

Geoerge Weah

The only African to win the Ballon d'Or, the Liberian played for AC Milan, Paris Saint Germain, Manchester City and Monaco during a decorated career.

In his prime, Weah was regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. 

After the second Liberian civil war, the African Player of the Century announced his intention to run for president in the 2005 elections, but lost out to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state.

He was overwhelmingly elected to the Liberian Senate in December 2014 after he defeated Robert Sirleaf, the president’s son, becoming the first Liberian international athlete elected to represent a county in the legislature.



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