5 Athletes Who Struggled as Politicians

Getty Images
Getty Images

Once athletes are done dominating on the field, they're free to take their millions of dollars and go enjoy lives of golf and celebrity restaurant ownership. Some former sports stars, though, eschew this easy life in favor of entering an even more competitive arena: politics. While some achieve great triumphs in the political world, like basketball star Bill Bradley, NFL quarterbacks Jack Kemp and Heath Shuler, and retired Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, others struggle to find their niche as public servants. Here are a few of our favorite campaigns that didn't pan out:

1. Jerry "The King" Lawler Tries to Become Mayor

It's tough to knock anything about Jerry "The King" Lawler's professional wrestling career. The man boasts over a hundred title reigns across various promotions, has had a successful career as a commentator, and even feuded with comedian Andy Kaufman.  Throughout his career, he maintained strong ties to his hometown of Memphis, and in 1999 Lawler made a bid at becoming the city's next mayor. His platform was largely predicated upon what he called "common sense," and included cutting costs, making streets safer, undertaking beautification projects, and improving schools.
Although Lawler's platform and status as a favorite son may have been appealing to some voters, he wasn't able to deliver one of his trademark piledrivers to incumbent Willie Herenton, who grabbed 45.7 percent of the vote to win a third term. Lawler came in at a distant third with 11.7 percent of the vote. Of course,  he probably didn't help his chances when he attacked a police officer during a dispute on airport parking. He did, however, make some terrific campaign ads:

2. Another "King" Tries to Become Secretary of State

Maybe there's something about having the nickname "The King" that makes retired stars want to run for office, but Lawler's fellow "King," NASCAR legend Richard Petty decided to run for North Carolina Secretary of State in 1996. The state's Republican party thought this idea sounded like a perfect fit for NASCAR-crazed North Carolina, and Petty's signature cowboy hat, shades, and mustache hit the political trail. However, pundits soon learned that an old racer's habits die hard. Petty became embroiled in a scandal when he used his racing knowledge to deal with a slowpoke who wouldn't let him pass on I-85; like any good stock car driver would, Petty allegedly sped up and gave the driver a little bump. Petty paid a measly $65 fine for the incident, but it probably didn't help his campaign. He ended up losing to Democratic candidate Elaine Marshall 53.48-45.17.

3. Lynn Swann Runs a Gubernatorial Route

Likewise, former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Lynn Swann had a football career almost beyond compare. The Hall of Famer boasts four Super Bowl rings, three trips to the Pro Bowl, and a spot on the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1970s. He could not, however, catch the political hearts of Pennsylvanians when he ran for governor in 2006.
Swann, a Republican, squared off against incumbent governor Ed Rendell, a popular former mayor of Philadelphia. Swann's hope seemed to be grabbing the conservative middle section of the state and swinging in some Steelers fans from his native Pittsburgh. His platform included changing the property tax structure and "reforming" Harrisburg through "change." Nobody seemed to know what these ridiculously vague notions meant, though, and Swann quickly fell in a large fundraising hole to Rendell. By the time the election rolled around, Rendell handily thumped Swann, who collected just under 40 percent of the vote. Great campaign ads for football fans, though

4. Olympian Tries to Swordfight With FDR

Henry S. Breckenridge may not be the most instantly recognizable name on this list, but he was a world-class athlete in his day. Blessed with a privileged upbringing, Breckenridge graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law and found himself sitting in the position of Assistant Secretary of War under Woodrow Wilson at just 27 years old. He was also a terrific fencer who competed in the 1912 Olympics before captaining the American squad at the 1928 Olympics. Breckenridge, who was a member of the Army Officers' Fencing Club, was tough to beat with a sword, but unfortunately for him, he was a bit less intimidating at the polls. He made an unsuccessful run at a Senate seat from New York as part of the Constitutional Party in 1934; his efforts garnered less than one percent of the vote.
Following this defeat, Breckenridge, who opposed the New Deal, took on an even more Herculean task: he actually ran against Franklin Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination for president in 1936. Roosevelt, who was wildly popular at the time, didn't file for the New Jersey primary. It ended up being the only state in which Breckenridge made a respectable showing. By the time the votes were counted, FDR had racked up close to five million supporters, while Breckenridge only had 136,000, or a margin of victory of roughly 93 percent to three percent.

5. Sports Prodigy Fails to Nab Parliament Seats

C.B. Fry's legend in the U.K. is almost on par with Jim Thorpe's mystique in the United States. At the turn of the 20th century, Fry wasn't just a standout in one sport; it seemed like he was dominating them all. He excelled at cricket in a way that no one had ever really seen before, including a stunning six consecutive first-class centuries in 1901. He was strong enough at soccer to play both professionally and on England's national team. On top of all that, Fry also held the world long-jump record!
All of these facts may it tough luck for Fry that England didn't elect its MPs via decathlon, in which case he would have been a lock. He ran as a reforming Liberal for a seat from Sussex, but fell 5,000 votes short. Undeterred, Fry later unsuccessfully tried to win a set from Banbury and then took another close loss for a seat from Oxford.  After gracefully accepting these three defeats, Fry quit campaigning for Parliament. He did, however, finally get a little bit of political love when he became delegate to the League of Nations for three years during the 1920s. According to rumor, he was even considered as a candidate to be king of Albania during this period.

10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

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8 Surprising Facts About Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris.
Chuck Norris.
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

For decades, martial artist and actor Carlos Ray Norris Jr. has been kicking his way into the hearts of action film fans. In addition to his competitive karate career, Norris has starred in a string of successful movies as well as the long-running CBS drama Walker, Texas Ranger. With Norris having reached the milestone age of 80 years old back in March 2020, we’re taking a look at some of the more interesting facts about his life and career.

1. Chuck Norris is a military veteran.

Chuck Norris in Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
Chuck Norris stars in Lone Wolf McQuade (1983).
MGM Home Entertainment

Born on March 10, 1940 in Ryan, Oklahoma, Norris was the oldest of three boys and a self-described “shy” child. After a move to California, Norris attended North Torrance High School. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Air Force, where he became a member of the military police in the hopes of pursuing a career in law enforcement. It was in the service, while being stationed at Osan Air Base in South Korea, that Norris first discovered the martial arts. When he once found himself unable to control a rowdy drunk in a bar while on patrol duty, Norris realized he needed combat skills. He studied Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do before returning to California. When he was discharged from the Air Force in 1962, Norris began teaching the skills he had acquired to students.

2. Steve McQueen got Chuck Norris into acting.

Norris became a world champion in karate contests, which lent credence to his abilities as a martial arts instructor. He taught several celebrities the finer points of self-defense, including the Osmonds, Priscilla Presley, and Steve McQueen. Norris even trained Price Is Right host Bob Barker. But not all his schools were doing well, and after retiring from competition in 1974, Norris was looking for other opportunities. McQueen suggested that Norris try his hand at acting. McQueen was right—eventually. It took several years and nine films, but Norris had a breakthrough with 1982’s Lone Wolf McQuade.

3. Chuck Norris needed to obey a producer’s request in order to face off against Bruce Lee.

While Norris didn’t become a household name until the 1980s, his turn as a villain in 1972’s Return of the Dragon (also known as Way of the Dragon) opposite Bruce Lee wound up being a seminal meeting of two onscreen martial arts legends. When Lee was looking for an adversary for the climactic fight, he called Norris, whom he knew and was friends with. But the film’s producer insisted that Norris gain 20 pounds so that he would appear to be much larger than Lee on camera. “That’s why I don’t do jump kicks [in the movie],” Norris told Empire in 2007. “I couldn’t get off the ground!”

4. Chuck Norris founded his own martial arts system.

Taking the knowledge he had acquired over many years of training in Tang Soo Do and Tae Kwon Do, Norris developed his own unique martial arts system and philosophy that he eventually dubbed Chun Kuk Do. In addition to combat techniques, the system encourages students to develop themselves to their maximum potential and look for the good in other people. It was renamed the Chuck Norris System in 2015.

5. Chuck Norris once marketed Chuck Norris Action Jeans.

Thanks to his fame in the martial arts world, Norris was sought after to endorse athletic products. In 1982, martial arts equipment company Century recruited Norris to be a spokesperson for their Karate Jeans, which featured flexible fabric sewn into the crotch that would presumably allow the wearer to deliver a bone-crunching kick while looking fashionable. Eventually renamed Action Jeans, Norris promoted them for years.

6. Chuck Norris had his own cartoon series.

At the height of his popularity in the 1980s, Norris teamed with animation company Ruby-Spears for an animated series, Chuck Norris: Karate Kommandos. The show featured Norris and a team of martial artists fighting villains like Superninja and The Claw. Although 65 shows were planned, just a few aired. “We only did six of them, and then a woman at CBS said, ‘Those are too violent,’” Norris told MTV News in 2009.

7. Chuck Norris is a real Texas Ranger.

For eight seasons, Norris pummeled bad guys as the star of the 1990s CBS television series Walker, Texas Ranger, which became the first primetime show shot on location in Texas at Norris’s insistence. In 2010, Norris was named an honorary member of the Texas Rangers by state governor Rick Perry in acknowledgment of Norris’s work in raising awareness for the elite unit and for his work helping underprivileged youths via martial arts programs. Norris’s brother, Aaron Norris, who was an executive producer on the show, also received the designation.

8. Chuck Norris’s role in Dodgeball was a surprise to Chuck Norris.

Norris is generally good-humored about his persona and is often willing to poke fun at himself. But when he was asked to do a cameo in the 2004 comedy Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, he passed because he didn’t feel like driving three hours to the movie’s set in Long Beach, California. When star Ben Stiller called to ask personally, Norris agreed, but didn’t read the script. He simply shot his scene where he offers a thumbs-up to the dodgeball competitors.

When Norris saw the movie in theaters, he was surprised at the context. “But in the end, when Ben’s a big fatty and watching TV, the last line of the whole movie is, ‘F***in’ Chuck Norris!,'” Norris told Empire in 2007. “My mouth fell open to here… I said, ‘Holy mackerel!’ That was a shock, Ben didn’t tell me about that!”