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6 high-profile sportspeople turned into successful politicians

With Kenneth Egan set to face the electorate, we look at some former sportspeople who turned to politics.

AS FORMER OLYMPIC medalist Kenneth Egan’s local election campaign kicks into gear, here in TheScore.ie towers we thought now would be a good time to take a look at some high-profile sports people who turned to politics with success.

Manny Pacquiao

Source: Kathy Willens/AP/Press Association Images

Sporting career: Pac Man has won ten world titles in an ongoing career that saw him crowned the first eight-weight-division world champion. He was named fighter of the decade in the 2000s by the Boxing Writers Association of America and has been rated the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world on several occasions.

Political career: Pacquiao first declared he would be seeking a seat in the Philippine House of Representatives in 2007. While he lost that year, he was more successful in 2010 when he was declared congressman for the district of Sarangani, winning 66% of the votes. He ran unopposed last year and, unsurprisingly, retained his seat.

Jimmy Deenihan

Source: Inpho/Tom Honan

Sporting career: Aside from his obvious potential as a future Irish international as highlighted above, Deenihan did win five All-Ireland titles and seven Munster crowns in a nine-year career with Kerry. While he never actually scored for the Kingdom (right backs rarely do), he did captain them to the 1981 Sam Maguire.

Political career: Deenihan was first appointed to the Seanad shortly after his retirement in 1983 as a nominee of then-Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. He was elected to the Dáil as a Fine Gael TD at the 1987 general election and is currently serving as the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Jesse ‘the Body’ Ventura

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Sporing career: Professional wrestling’s a sport, right? Ventura never won the WWE’s singles title but was in a tag team with Macho Man Randy Savage and that’s worth more than any belt. He really made his name in commentating on wrestling though, providing colour commentary on many high profile WWE events.

Political career: Ventura’s first venture into politics was in 1995 when he was elected Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He became Governor of Minnesota in 1998, a position he held until 2003 when he decided not to run for re-election. He has hinted that he may make a US presidential bid in 2016.


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Jack Lynch

Source: Brian Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Sporting career: Lynch won eight Munster titles (two football, six hurling) and six All-Irelands (one football, five hurling) in a career with Cork and is widely regarded as one of the most successful dual stars of all time. In 1981 he was given an All Time All Star as the awards didn’t exist in his playing days.

Political career: Lynch was first elected to Dáil Éireann in as TD for Cork in 1948 and held his seat until his retirement in 1981. He served as Minister for Finance and Education and was leader of Fianna Fáil from 1966 until 1979, serving as Taoiseach between 1966-1973 and again between 1976-1979.

Jim Bunning

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Sporting career: Bunning was just the second baseball pitcher in history to win 100 games each in both the American and National leagues and threw a no-hitter for both the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He played in seven All-Star games and had his #14 jersey retired by the Phillies in 2001.

Political career: After retiring from baseball, Bunning was elected to the Kentucky state senate, in which he served as minority leader. In 1986, Bunning was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served in the House from 1987 to 1999. He was elected to the United States Senate in 1998 and served two terms.

John O’Mahony

Source: ©INPHO/James Crombie

Sporting career: Like Pacquiao, O’Mahony found time to combine his sporting and political activities. He won two All-Irelands playing at underage level with Mayo and boasts and impressive six All-Ireland titles and 15 Connacht titles as manager with Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, St.Nathy’s and St. Bridget’s.

Political career: O’Mahony was first elected to the Dáil at the 2007 general election and was the Fine Gael deputy spokesperson with special responsibility for Sport until March 2011. He combined his time as a TD and manager of Mayo in the early stages of his political career.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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