US athletes jumping into heated presidential race


Former United States NBA player Dennis Rodman gestures to throw a ball with his autograph toward fans watching an exhibition game against Filipino players in Manila, Philippines 18 July 2012. Photo: EPA

As the presidential candidates sprint the final leg of the race for the White House, sports luminaries are lining up behind their preferred candidates.

Le Bron James, Stephen Curry and Martina Navratilova have said they will vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton on November 8, while Republican candidate Donald Trump has the support of Mike Tyson, Jack Nicklaus and Dennis Rodman.

Here is a rundown of some of the famous US sports figures who have entered the campaign fray:

- Team Clinton - 

Le Bron James

The NBA superstar -- who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the key swing state of Ohio -- voiced support for Clinton in early October in a piece that ran in the Akron Beacon Journal, his hometown newspaper.

"Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty," James wrote. 

"And when I think about the kinds of policies and the ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear. That candidate is Hillary Clinton."

Stephen Curry

Asked in an interview who he would support in the 2016 election, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player replied, "Hillary."

Lakers legends Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also back Clinton's bid to become the first female US president, as does the owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban.

Martina Navratilova

Once one of the world's top tennis players and a gay rights activist, Navratilova has made no secret of her support for Clinton. She regularly praises Clinton and disparages Trump on her Twitter account. 

Another female tennis legend, Billie Jean King, also supports the Democratic candidate.

Hope Solo

The US women's football goalie considers Clinton "the best candidate, the best leader, the best diplomat." 

Solo especially has high praise for Clinton's agenda to close the gender pay gap. The football star is one of several members of the US women's team to file a complaint against US Soccer in March 2016 alleging wage discrimination.

- Team Trump -

Mike Tyson

The heavyweight boxing champion has thrown his heft behind Trump, saying he and the billionaire are "really good friends."

Boxing promoter Don King has also stepped out in favor of Trump.

Jack Nicklaus

The former top golfer who has 18 career major championships to his name voiced admiration for Trump in May. 

"I like what Donald has done," he said in a network television interview. "I like that he's turning America upside down.

John Daly, winner of two major titles in the 90s, also praised Trump's candidacy on Twitter: "That's y I luv my friend @realDonaldTrump he's not politics he's business! It's what our country needs."

Tom Brady

Brady, the star quarterback of the New England Patriots, has called Trump a friend but has not publicly endorsed him for president.

Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson have offered their support to the real estate mogul.

Caitlyn Jenner

Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion once known as Bruce, is an avowed Republican who defended transgender rights on the sidelines of the Republican convention that nominated Trump to run for president.

"Our best hope to get back to a constitutional government... is in the Republican Party," said Jenner.

Dennis Rodman

The former Chicago Bulls teammate of basketball legend Michael Jordan is hoping for a Trump victory.

"@realDonaldTrump has been a great friend for many years," the eccentric former NBA player tweeted. "We don't need another politician, we need a businessman like Mr. Trump! Trump 2016."

Besides his basketball talents, Rodman is also known for his many piercings and tattoos, as well as his controversial travels to North Korea.

© AFP

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