From The Field to The Ballot; Sports Personalities Who Have Become Politicians

Kenya is a country well known for its sports persons, with athletics having the most publicity, mostly athletics champions hailing from the highlands of Kenya’s North rift region.

Most of these sports personalities have dared to make good use of their publicity on the tracks to run for political seats. A number of athletes from the north rift region have contested various political seats where some have won and others have lost.

Here are some of the sportspersons who have immersed themselves in politics.

George Weah

The current president of Liberia was a professional footballer before joining politics. The striker first started as a senator for Montserrado County before becoming the 25th president of Liberia in 2018.

The former AC Milan striker was equally the first African footballer to win Fifa’s World Player of the Year award.

President Weah is expected to play for both sides in the ECOWAS Parliament soccer match versus the Liberian Legislature, headed by Speaker Bhofal Chamber, on Sunday, September 15, at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia.

McDonald Mariga

The former Kenya international midfielder surprised many when he declared his bid to run for the Kibra parliamentary seat in the upcoming by-elections. The soccer player aims at representing Kibra constituency on a Jubilee Party ticket.

His international football career began in 2005 when he went to Sweden to play for third Division Enkopings SK. After only one season at ESK, he signed for Helsingborgs IF before the 2006 season.

In 2007, he moved to Serie A club Parma then later in 2010, to Inter Milan before moving back to Parma in 2014. In January 2016, he signed for Serie B club Latina until July 31, 2017, where he signed a one-year deal with Spanish Segunda Division club, Real Oviedo, until his retirement.

Wesley Korir

The 2012 Boston marathon champion won the Cherangany constituency seat in the 2013 General Election. He served the constituency as a one-term Member of Parliament for five years under independent candidacy. In the 2017 election, Wesley lost the seat to his predecessor, Joshua Kutuny.

The marathoner has since then vowed to commit himself to athletics once more, aiming at regaining his lost glory that was depicted in the 2016 Rio Olympics, as his political career in Kenya soaked up so much of his time.

Wilson Kipsang

He was a contestant for the Keiyo South parliamentary race during the 2017 General Election. Kipsaang suffered an early blow having lost the race in the Jubilee Party nominations primaries.

He was the bronze medallist in the marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Kipsang is also a two-time winner of the Frankfurt Marathon (2010 and 2011) and has also won the London marathon (2012 and 2014), New York Marathon (2014), and Tokyo Marathon (2017).

Jerim Onyango

Long-time Gor Mahia captain, Jerim Onyango, expressed his interest in politics after a nine-year football career in the club. Unfortunately, he did not manage to win the contested Member of County Assembly (MCA) seat in his home area of Ugunja Constituency.

He is currently in charge of the Gor Mahia youth team.

Elijah Lagat

He was the MP for Emgwen constituency from 2008- 2017. However, in 2017, the former Boston Marathon champion lost the seat to his rival, Mr Wilson Kogo.

 Mr Lagat won the Boston Marathon race in 2000 after clocking 2 hrs 9 minutes and 47 seconds before retiring and being elected into office in 2007.

Peter Kenneth

The one-time presidential candidate was a sports enthusiast before joining politics. He was elected the Chairman of the Kenya Football Federation in 1996, a position he served until the year 2000.

Kenneth was first elected a Member of Parliament for Gatanga Constituency in December 2002 on a National Rainbow Coalition ticket. He, later on, vied for the presidential seat in 2013 where he lost.

Alfred Sambu

He is an ODM member and was elected to represent the Webuye Constituency in the 2007 General Election. Before joining politics, the sports personality was the chairman of AFC Leopards football club and Kenya Football Federation. 

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