We were saddened to learn of the death of Alexis “The Explosive Thin Man” Arguello, one of our all-time favorite boxers. And we were surprised to discover that just a year before his passing, Arguello had been elected the mayor of Managua. (Okay, we admit it—we don’t keep up on Nicaraguan municipal politics like we should.)
Reading about Arguello’s transition into politics got us thinking about other athletes who’ve gotten the public-service itch after retiring from the court, field, or ring. ESPN recently did a brief rundown, naming such usual suspects as Bill Bradley and the great George Weah. But the standard lists only scratch the surface, as most athletes find their way into more obscure corners of politics than national legislatures or executive mansions. Mayor Kevin Johnson, anyone? And don’t forget our personal favorite athlete-turned-politician, the Great Sasuke, who was elected to a regional Japanese assembly in 2003.
There’s certainly a strain of pundit who blanches at the notion of jocks crafting policy. But we beg to differ. The two real keys to athletic success, other than natural talent, are dedication and the ability to perform under pressure. And both are great virtues when it comes to dealing with constituents, lobbyists, fellow lawmakers, and the zillion headaches that are part of modern politicking. Yes, there have been some notable failures in the athlete-turned-politician realm—don’t get us started on Steve Largent. But we’d wager the jocks’ success rate isn’t too different from that of, say, classically trained lawyers. And at the end of the day, we kind of like the idea of Peter Boulware types calling the shots rather than career politicians. If you can tackle Marshall Faulk in the open field, you can probably figure out how to fund vital public services through a mixture of bond issues and incrementally higher taxes—right?
(Image via No Mas)