When sport, politics, business and pleasure mix
DURBAN – Following US president Donald Trump’s presidency and rapper Kanye West’s flirtation with the world of politics, some would easily be tempted into thinking that “politics is something that should be left to the politicians” rather than celebrities or sportsmen.
Trump’s social media updates over the last few years are the type of social media updates you can expect if you hand your phone to your mischievous ten-year-old relative without logging out of your social media accounts.
The man had no filter and whilst he may have been a good symbolic representation of the views of many right-wingers as that was the demographic from which he drew his popularity, it’s safe to say that he will probably go down as one of the worst US Presidents and even conservative presidents in history.
Sportsmen going into politics is not rare and whilst a fair number end up not succeeding, some do. Former Pakistani Imran Khan is the 22nd and current prime minister of Pakistan while former AC Milan star George Weah is the 25th and current president of Liberia.
With that being said, here are two sports stars of yesteryear whose political careers will be interesting to pay attention to.
Glenn Jacobs (best known as Kane from the WWE)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021.— Knox Co. Government (@KnoxGov) January 18, 2021
"Please join me today in celebrating Dr. King's life, his work, his impact, and reflecting on his message. Thank you."
- Knox County Mayor @GlennJacobsTN pic.twitter.com/sqjlzpi8Jm
Kane was one of the stars of WWE’s attitude era in the late 1990s and early 2000s which was when the WWE had an almost cult-like following in South Africa and throughout the world. He is best remembered for his feuds and collaborations with his storyline brother the Undertaker.
In March 2017, Kane announced that he would be running as a mayoral candidate for Knox County in the US as a representative of the Republican Party.
In August 2018, Jacobs subsequently won the mayoral election, defeating Democratic opponent Linda Haney by a vote of 66.39% to 33.61%.
On paper, it would seem to a lot of people that the election of a former WWE star represents a regression of US politics to an all-time low. WWE is after all known for showmanship and often excessive drama.
Kane though, does carry out his duties as mayor of Knox Country with professionalism and in that sense, one
can say that he is a good example for other American celebrities who may want to pursue a career in politics.
Kane has a YouTube channel called Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs where he regularly updates his community about the work that he is doing and also uses it as a channel to deliver messages. His tone is professional and he comes across as a proper politician.
It will be interesting to pay attention to the development of his political career.
José Luis Chilavert
Chilavert was always a bit different, be it on the football field as a goalkeeper or off the field. On the field, he finished with eight international goals in a 14-year international career with Paraguay. Goalkeepers scoring goals is something which does not happen today.
Chilavert was also very vocal on political issues during his footballing career, earning comparisons to Che Guevara.
He is one who can say that he stuck to his principles. In 1999, he refused to participate in the Copa America which his nation hosted, saying that they should rather invest money in education and healthcare than on hosting a football tournament.
Chilavert teased the possibility of running for president of his native Paraguay during his football career and in December that became a reality when he announced that he would be running for president in the 2023 Paraguayan elections under the motto “Proud to be … Paraguayan! with a view to rooting out corruption in the country.
Something which Chilavert will have to improve if he wants to succeed as a politician is his temperament and relations with journalists.
Prior to the 2002 World Cup, he criticised journalists who were against the appointment of Cesare Maldini to lead Paraguay at the event, claiming that "about 90% of sports journalists in Paraguay are incompetent", certainly a wild claim which resonate with Trump’s election fraud claims.
He was also not one to shy away from violence on the field in his playing days and is known to have once thrown a punch at Diego Maradona.
In his defence though, he did play in a period where violence on the football field was a norm and when there was not as much emphasis on sportsmanship as there is today.