Imran Khan takes oath as Pakistan's 22nd PM: Cricketer joins list of famous athletes turned politicians

Imran Khan's anointment as Pakistan's new prime minister caps a more than a two-decade-long transformation from a World Cup winning cricket captain to a world leader, placing him in charge of a nuclear-armed state.

He was catapulted to global fame as a World Cup cricket champion, but the man known in the West as a celebrity playboy has become prime minister of Pakistan as a populist, religiously devout, anti-corruption reformist.

The former national cricket captain was sworn in as leader of the nuclear-armed country of 207 million people on Saturday, coming to power as Pakistan faces challenges on multiple fronts.

His "New Pakistan" represents an end to decades of rotating leadership by the ousted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party, punctuated by stretches of military rule.

File image of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. AP

File image of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. AP

But he is not the only one to have swapped playing fields for the hustings. Here are other prominent sports stars who have made a similar switch:

George Weah

Khan's elevation to premier is only matched by George Weah, who was inaugurated as Liberia's president in January.

Weah first learned to kick a ball in the slums of Monrovia but went on to become one of Africa's greatest footballers, playing for a string of top European clubs and winning both FIFA's World Player of the Year and the Ballon d'Or.

Weah avoided the brutal civil war that destroyed much of Liberia but vowed to put his wealth and fame to use, unsuccessfully running for president in 2005.

Twelve years later he was triumphant, succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia's first democratic transition since 1944.

He put education, job creation and infrastructure at the centre of his platform, though critics said he was vague on specifics.

File image of Liberia's President George Weah. Reuters

File image of Liberia's president George Weah. Reuters

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Rathore was the first Indian to win a silver at Olympics. He won a Silver at the 2003 World Championships, the first time in 40 years that an Indian had achieved the feat.

He served as a commissioned officer in The Grenadiers regiment of the Indian Army before retiring in 2013 as a colonel. Following his retirement from the army and shooting, he became the member of the parliament for the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014.

In November 2014, was made the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. Rathore was appointed as a Cabinet minister with independent charge for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2017.

File image of sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Reuters

File image of sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. Reuters

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Before the silver screen and politics, Austria-born Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the world's best bodybuilders.

While beefing up in a bid to get on his local soccer team, Schwarzenegger became infatuated by body-building, racking up title after title, until he became the youngest-ever winner of the Mr Universe competition.

He moved Stateside to pursue acting and, despite his thick accent, finally made the big time in the 1980s with roles such as Conan the Barbarian and the Terminator.

A moderate Republican, he became Governor of California in 2003, serving two terms.

He has long distanced himself from the Republican mainstream on a range of social issues, such as abortion, gay marriage and gun control, and remains a staunch environmentalist, often clashing with President Donald Trump on Twitter.

File image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. AP

File image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. AP

Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao is idolised by millions in the poverty-afflicted Philippines after rising from the streets to the pinnacle of boxing.

The winner of an unparalleled 12 world titles in eight different weight divisions, he has successfully parlayed his boxing fame into a political career.

He was elected to the House of Representatives and then, in 2016, to the Senate, a high-profile national position which can be a stepping-stone to the presidency, an office he openly admits to having aspirations for.

In 2012 he found Christianity — turning his back on the many vices fame, money and power brought him — and social conservatism permeates his politics.

Pacquiao stirred international anger when he compared homosexuals to animals in a 2016 interview, later citing the Bible in his defence.

File image of boxer Manny Pacquiao. Reuters

File image of Philippine boxer Manny Pacquiao. Reuters

Vitali Klitschko

Two-metre (6 ft 6 ins) -tall Klitschko went from a heavyweight champion who never suffered a knockdown, to a Ukrainian protest leader and current Mayor of Kiev.

He was always viewed as something of a quiet intellectual on the world boxing circuit, a fighter fluent in several languages with a PhD in sports science who liked to relax with a thick Dostoyevsky novel.

An early supporter of the pro-democracy Orange Revolution, he became a major figure in the often treacherous arena of Ukrainian politics, eventually winning the capital's mayoralty in 2014.

"It's much easier to be the heavyweight champion of the world than to be the mayor of Kiev," he told the Guardian newspaper earlier this year. "It's hitting you in the back. It's hitting you under the belt line. It's really tough."

File image of mayor of Kiev and former boxer Vitali Klitschko. Reuters

File image of the mayor of Kiev and former boxer Vitali Klitschko. Reuters

Navjot Singh Sidhu

Sidhu is an Indian politician, television personality and former cricketer. He currently serves as the Minister of Local Government, Tourism, Cultural Affairs, and Museums of the State of Punjab. He has over 50 Test caps for India and smashed four successive 50s in the 1987 World Cup.

As a professional cricketer, Sidhu had a career spanning over 19 years after his first-class debut in 1981–82. After losing his place in the national team after his international debut in 1983–84, he returned to score four half-centuries in the 1987 World Cup.

He joined the BJP in 2004 and successfully contested the General Elections from Amritsar. In 2017, he joined the Congress and currently serves as a Cabinet Minister for Captain Amarinder Singh's Punjab government.

File image of Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI

File image of Navjot Singh Sidhu. PTI

Arjuna Ranatunga

Four years after Imran Khan captained Pakistan to World Cup cricket victory, Arjuna Ranatunga did the same for Sri Lanka in 1996.

He entered politics soon after retiring, briefly serving as a junior tourism minister, before spending years in the opposition.

In 2015 he became the first former Sri Lankan international to be named a cabinet minister and has held a slew of ministerial positions since, including his current job as petroleum minister.

In recent years Ranatunga has been in an increasingly acerbic war of words with Sri Lanka Cricket, the country's notoriously scandal-plagued cricket board which he has long had aspirations to run.

File image of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka's ports minister. Reuters

File image of Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka's ports minister. Reuters

With inputs from agencies.


Updated Date: Aug 18, 2018 16:54 PM

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