By Danny Parys: At first glance boxing and politics don’t seem to have much in common. Debating policy and jumping rope don’t seem to go hand in hand. However, it could be argued that most boxers are more equipped to enter the political arena than you think.
Boxers need to know how to manage the press if they want to hype a fight and they need to study their opponents and understand their weaknesses. In this day in age boxers even need to know how to navigate a wide range of different political organizations.
Negotiating a title fight with Bob Arum or Eddie Hearn probably makes Senate Reform look like child’s play.
Maybe then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many boxers have gotten into politics. So here is a list of the 10 boxers who, for better or for worse, went into politics.
Most boxing fans know Vitali Klitschko from his fights with Lennox Lewis, Shannon Briggs and as the only Heavyweight champion who reigned in three different decades. However, lately, Klitschko has been making more news as a member of the Kyiv City council since 2010 and has been the Mayor of the Ukrainian capital since 2014.
He was also the first professional boxing world champion to hold a Ph.D. degree (the second being his brother, Wladimir)
The three-weight world champion was one of the greats of his era and dominated in the 70’s and 80’s. Having never lost any of his world titles in the ring, only when he moved up in weight classes, it’s no wonder The Ring magazine ranks Arguello as number 20 on their list of best punchers of all time.
Arguello was also seen as a hero in his native Nicaragua and was elected mayor of the capital city Managua in 2008 at the age of 57. Sadly, only months after his election Arguello ended up taking his own life.
Tommy Douglas is undoubtedly beloved in his native Canada. The former premier (the Canadian equivalent to Governor) of Saskatchewan was voted the greatest Canadian and is remembered fondly as the man who brought universal healthcare to the country.
Canadians may however be surprised to learn that Douglas held amateur championships in the lightweight division in 1922, and successfully defended his title in 1923.
The current Cabinet Minister in the Canadian Government, Dan Vandal has had by all accounts, a very successful political career. Moving from City Councillor of his native Winnipeg to the Canadian Minister of Northern Affairs
Vandal was no slouch in the ring either. He retired with a record of 18-6, with a 50% knockout ratio. He even fought unsuccessfully for the Canadian Middleweight title.
The Ugandan Military dictator was always a fighter and is to this day considered one of the most brutal leaders in all of history. During his reign as President of Uganda human rights group estimate 100,000 to 500,000 citizens were killed because of his policies.
Prior to his rise to power, he held the Ugandan Light Heavyweight title for 9 consecutive years. Maybe he should have stuck to boxing.
Valuev made his name in the ring for his size. Standing at 7ft tall and weighing upward of 300lbs, Nikolai Valuev is more remembered for being the tallest and heaviest Heavyweight champion of the world than for his boxing abilities. Despite his skillset, Valuev managed to capture the WBA World heavyweight title not once, but two times.
Valuev however was quick to parlay his fame in his native Russia into a political position. Only two years after his retirement Valuev began serving in the Russian state Duma in 2011 and has defended his position in elections much more successfully than he did his heavyweight titles.
The Mexican Hall of Famer held titles in four different weight classes and had epic rivalries with Pacquiao and Barrera. Beloved in his native Tijuana, he was elected to Mexican Congress in 2018, just 6 years after his retirement and is currently serving on the Committee on Sports.
Known as the Siberian Rocky and remembered for his fight of the year war with Tim Bradley, Provodnikov took all his opponents head-on. Ruslan wasn’t known for his jab, but for his chin, endurance, and will to win.
With his fan-favorite fighting style, it’s no wonder he gained popularity in his native Siberia. Just a few years after his retirement Provodnikov made the jump into politics and is currently serving as a deputy in the State Duma of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region in his native Russia.
The former Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate was a household name in the USA. Known for his status as a war hero and his non-partisan appeal.
However, before he jumped into the political arena, he was a lightweight boxer in the Navy. According to his teammates, “He was not the most skilled, but he was the most feared … He never gave up.” McCain later credited the toughness he developed from the sport in helping him withstand torture as a prisoner of war.
The recently retired 8 weight world champion is probably not only the most famous boxer on this list but potentially the most successful politician as well.
Pacquiao has been involved in politics since 2010 and has been serving in the Philippine Senate since 2016. Balancing training for world title fights and his political duties didn’t seem to be a problem for Pac-Man given he had 15 world title fights during that time.
However, Pacquiao’s political ambitions may have finally eclipsed his desire to continue boxing given Pacquaio announced his candidacy for the Philippine Presidency just 10 before announcing his retirement