7 prominent Kenyan sports figures who ventured into politics

7 prominent Kenyan sports figures who ventured into politics

Festus Chuma 18:00 - 29.05.2024

Explore the journeys of 7 Kenyan sports stars who made impactful transitions from the field to the political arena.

Since the dawn of time sports and politics have often been intertwined  serving as platforms for leadership and community influence. 

In Kenya, several athletes have successfully transitioned from the sports arena to the political stage, bringing a competitive edge and a deep understanding of teamwork to their new roles. 

Pulse Sports delves into the lives of seven such individuals who swapped their sports gear for political suits making significant impacts both in their sporting disciplines and political careers.

 1. Elijah Masinde

Elijah Masinde, born around 1912 in Kimilili, Bungoma County, is a legendary figure in Kenyan sports and politics.

As the captain of Bukusu FC and a representative in the Gossage Cup, Masinde was not just a footballer but a charismatic leader. 

 Although he never sought an elective political position, Masinde's leadership in founding the Dini Ya Musambwa movement, a protest that morphed into a religious sect, showcased his profound influence. 

His spiritual leadership continued to inspire political figures long after his death in 1987, with politicians frequently visiting his shrine for blessings.

2. Joab Omino

Joab Omino, born in 1940 in Maseno, Kisumu County, seamlessly blended academia, sports, and later politics into his career. 

A student at Makerere University Omino played for both the Kenya and Uganda national football teams. He later held the significant role of Permanent Secretary in various Kenyan ministries before entering the political arena. 

As a Member of Parliament for Kisumu Town and the patron of Gor Mahia FC, Omino used football as a political tool to connect with the youth, leveraging his sports background for political gain.

3. Chris Obure

Chris Obure's journey from the football fields as a right winger for Gor Mahia to the political corridors as a Cabinet Minister and Senator for Kisii County is a tale of passion intertwined with leadership. 

His roles in the soccer community, including as an official in a caretaker federation and a founding member of Bata Bullets FC, cemented his reputation in sports. 

This visibility greatly aided his political career, where he served as the Member of Parliament for Bobasi and contested for the Kisii governorship in 2017.

4. Dan Shikanda

Dan Shikanda's sports career as a player for AFC Leopards, Gor Mahia, and the Harambee Stars laid a solid foundation for his political aspirations. 

A medical doctor by training, Shikanda ventured into politics in 1997, aiming for the Makadara MP seat, although he was unsuccessful against the late Dick Wathika before trying out as running mate to Peter Keneth in 2017 presidential elections

His persistent pursuit of political office underscores the determination he likely honed on the football field.

5. Peter Kenneth

Peter Kenneth transitioned from a reserve goalie for Re-Union FC to a prominent figure in Kenyan soccer administration and politics. 

His role as KFF Chairman in 1999 propelled him into the political arena, where he became the MP for Gatanga, later a gubernatorial candidate before trying out in 2017 presidential elections as a candidate.

Kenneth's understated style in sports translated into a strategic approach in politics, utilizing his administrative skills and sports background to enhance his political profile.

6. Judy Wakhungu

Professor Judy Wakhungu might be a less conspicuous figure in sports, but her achievements in lawn tennis, alongside her sister Susan at the 1978 All Africa Games and other international tournaments, speak volumes. 

Her academic excellence and private sports career likely contributed to her appointment as Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Environment during President Uhuru's tenure demonstrating how sports discipline can complement political and professional success.

7. Reuben Ndolo

Reuben Ndolo’s engagement with professional boxing, whether as a competitor or through his significant contributions to the sport's development in Kenya, positioned him well in the political landscape. 

His efforts to professionalize boxing, making it financially viable, paralleled his political ambitions. 

As a Member of Parliament, Ndolo used his sports background to connect with a diverse electorate, demonstrating the power of sports as a unifying and influential platform in Kenyan society.

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