Achieving success in professional wrestling at the highest level will often lead to a great deal of notoriety. Moreover, being able to perform and speak in front of large groups is also key for folks who dream of one-day setting foot insides a WWE ring.
Interestingly enough, a notable person who can speak in front of a crowd and excite the masses will often also find success in another field: politics. This may be why so many wrestlers have run for office over the years. To that point, here are 10 famous wrestling stars who decided to enter the world of politics.
Since 1995, Kane has been one of the biggest stars (both literally and figuratively) in WWE. The 7-foot tall man known as “The Big Red Machine” has held a version of the WWE World Championship 3 times over the course of his career. He is also the on-screen brother of The Undertaker – though the two men aren’t really related.
Back in March of 2017, the former champ announced that we would be running for mayor in Knox County, Tennessee. As a Republican candidate, Kane (aka Glenn Jacobs) would end up defeating his opponent Linda Haney by a fairly wide margin. In total, 66.5% of those who voted in the election wanted the wrestling star to be their next mayor.
9 Linda McMahon
Lind McMahon is the wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon and the mother of both Shane and Stephanie McMahon. She worked behind the scenes in WWE for several years and was also an on-screen character who has been involved in various storylines.
Outside of World Wrestling Entertainment, Linda McMahon has also had a noteworthy political career. In 2009, she became a member of the Connecticut Board of Education – having been appointed by the Governor. On two separate occasions, in 2010 and 2012 respectively, she ran for a US Senate seat in the state of Connecticut, as a Republican candidate, but was defeated both times. She is also a former Administrator of Small Business Administration and recently resigned from the position this past April.
8 Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura was a flamboyant wrestler who had a solid run in WWE in the early '80s, which included a feud with the legendary Hulk Hogan. Following his retirement, the powerhouse out of Minneapolis, Minnesota would embark on a successful career as a wrestling commentator. He’s also appeared in popular films like Running Man and Predator.
Ventura’s political career began in the early 1990s when he successfully ran for Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. From there, he would on to pull off one of the most talked about political upsets in recent memory. As a 3rd party candidate, Ventura won a 3-way race to become Governor of Minnesota in 1998. He held the office from 1999 to 2003.
7 Jerry Lawler
Jerry “The King” Lawler is a professional wrestler who has been involved in the business since 1970. As a performer in WWE, he is perhaps best remembered for his series of matches with the legendary Bret Hart. “The King” would go on to have a successful career as a commentator during WWE’s Attitude Era. Lawler’s feud with iconic comedian Andy Kaufman in the early-80s helped make him something of pop culture icon.
An extremely popular figure in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, Lawler decided to run for Mayor. He first ran in 1999 and finished 3rd out of 15 candidates. He ran again in 2009, this time coming in 5th with just 4% of the vote.
Detroit, Michigan’s Rhyno made a name for himself back in the late 1990s as a member of the original ECW brand owned by Paul Heyman. In fact, he is a former ECW World Heavyweight Championship. The big man has also had several stints with WWE and held numerous titles with the promotion.
Back in 2016, Rhyno, whose real name is Terrance Gerin, decided to run for the Michigan House of Representatives in his home state. As a Republican candidate, he squared off against the Democratic primary winner Abdullah Hammoud in the November general election. Hammoud would end up winning the contest, 21,739 votes to 13,452.
5 Bob Backlund
Bob Backlund became a megastar back in the late-70s when he defeated “Superstar” Billy Graham for the WWE (then WWWF) Heavyweight Championship. He also had a second stint with the company that involved a memorable feud with Bret Hart. Newer wrestling fans know him as Darren Young’s life coach (manager).
Though his 1995 presidential bid was simply part of a WWE storyline, Bob Backlund did actually run for political office. In the 2000 election, the former titleholder decided to run for Congress in the state of Connecticut as a Republican. Backlund would end up losing the election handily; he received just 30% of the vote in a 2-man race.
4 Ludvig Borga
Ludvig Borga was a heel wrestler from Helsinki, Finland, which was the basis for his in-ring persona. Though his time in WWE was rather brief (1993-1994), he was put in a high profile storyline with Lex Luger, who was the company’s top star at the time. Borga, whose real name was Tony Halme, also fought in the UFC against former champ Randy Couture.
Following his retirement from combat sports, Borga went on to become a member of Finnish Parliament for Helsinki from 2003 to 2007. Sadly, the former WWE star passed away in January of 2010 – he was 47 at the time.
3 Rick Steiner
As one-half of the legendary duo known as The Steiner Brothers, Ric Steiner is one of the most successful tag team wrestlers of his generation. Alongside his brother Scott Steiner, “The Dog-Faced Gremlin” captured the world tag titles a total of 8 times during their stints in companies like WWE and WCW.
In 2006, Steiner, whose real name is Robert Rechsteiner, ran for a seat on Cherokee County School Board in the state of Georgia. Initially, he was disqualified from the primaries for failing to register using his real last name (he used Steiner). However, he would end up winning the general election as a write-in candidate who ran unopposed.
2 Brian Blair
Brain Blair performed in WWE from 1986 to 1988. During his time with origination, he was paired with Jim Brunzell to form the tag team known as The Killer Bees. The Bees are perhaps best known for their feud with recent WWE Hall of Fame inductees, The Hart Foundation. Blair still occasionally wrestles on the independent circuit.
In 2002, the former WWE tag team standout unsuccessfully ran for Hillsborough County Commissioner in the state of Florida. However, he would run again in 2004 and successfully captured the seat. Blair served as Hillsborough County Commissioner from 2004 to 2008.
1 Antonio Inoki
WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki is arguably the most successful Japanese wrestler of all-time. His match with Ric Flair in North Korea, which took place back in 1995, drew a crowd of 190,000 people – more than any event in pro wrestling history. He gained mainstream notoriety in 1976 in a wrestler versus boxer match against the world’s most famous combat sports athlete, Muhammad Ali.
In 1989, the wrestling star was elected to the Japanese House of Councilors for the first time. While in office, Inoki helped convince former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to release Japanese hostages just prior to the Gulf War.