Wesley Korir: Marathon Champion, Member of Parliament, Humanitarian
October 31, 2013
New York, NY – 2012 Boston marathon champ Wesley Korir has been known by a lot of American fans from his days at the University of Louisville where he was a good but not superstar runner under coach Ronn Mann. As a pro marathoner, Korir keeps getting better and better.
Off the track, Wesley has made a name for himself. He started the Kenyan Kids Foundation and this week went to Boston to personally thank a man who gave the foundation a five figure donation.
The latest thing Wesley has taken on is being a member of the Kenyan parliament. Wesley was elected this past spring as the first independent member of the Kenyan parliament. Being a member of Parliament is a full-time job in Kenya and his parliamentry duties have eaten into some of Wesley’s training time. Wesley said he is running about 20 miles per week less than when he was able to train full-time not being in Parliament. This spring it was even worse as Wesley was only able to run 40 miles per week and yet he still got 5th at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Toni Reavis’ has a great article on Wesley Korir here which we highly recommend you read. Below we present a few tidbits not in the article, and there also is video with Wesley below. But we just view this as a supplement to Toni’s great piece so go read that.
Being a member of parliament, Wesley is not only paid quite well (Wesley said member of Parliament make $10,000 a month now and used to make $15,000, Reuters says it’s a little less), but he also has an armed body guard. Seronei is not only Wesley’s body guard, but now he is a training partner. Seronei was done competing but started running with Wesley to help protect him while on runs and now Charles will compete in China later this year.
2) Wesley is a Big Fan of America
“I think I am now who I am because of the American culture and the American (collegiate) system. I think one thing that puts me ahead as a politician because I’ve learned things here. First of all, trying to fight corruption. There’s two things that I learned a lot from here. I learned that, if you do things the right way, you will succeed. But in Kenya, a lot of people do things the crooked way, and you find our country being what it is. One thing I’ve done that’s truly the right way, stand for what is right. And I think that’s what I’ve done. I’m comfortable being in America. “
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“What America did was you woke up that lion in me. It’s something in me, and what America did was turn it on. Now I’m taking it back to Kenya.”
3) Wesley Is Not a Big Fan of Partisan Politics
Wesley, the only independent member of parliament, had this to say:
“Party politics had taken center stage, all over the world, even in America. Here you’re Democrat or Republican. What I wanted to do was change that. Look at me as Wesley Korir. Don’t look at me as a member of a party because people have been able — have been putting people into office because they’re just in a party, and they end up being really bad people. So I wanted to present myself as independent.”
4) Wesley Compared How the Agents Treat Athletes in Kenya to Slavery
A big concern of Wesley’s is crafting legislation that protects athletes. He had some harsh words for some of the agents in Kenya:
“Modern day slavery in Kenya are athletes. I’m going to crack down especially on agents and managers. You find there’s this system whereby managers come from overseas like here or other countries. We like them. We love them. They come over there. They help our athletes. But the idea of them coming there, putting these runners into training camps, and then pick one of them, come race them, when they get injured, they throw them away, go pick another one, it’s the same way as the slaves they used to do.”
5) Just After Breaking the World Record, the Kenyan IRS Wanted Wilson Kipsang to Pay Up
Wesley is trying to stop Kenyan athletes from being double taxed. He said after returning to Kenya from breaking the World Marathon record, Wilson Kipsang, got a letter from the Minister of Finance estimating how much he made, and saying how much he owed in taxes.
6) Wesley Is a Fighter
With all the talk on Wesley’s political life, Wesley the runner didn’t get a lot of attention. Wesley got 5th at Boston after only running a reported 40 miles a week. Truly amazing if true. He said, “I think one thing I learned about myself is I have the talent. I’ve got the talent. Also, I learned about myself is I can fight. I’m a big fighter. I don’t give up.”
7) Steve Prefontaine Fans Should Like Wesley
Wesley made a name for himself in Chicago by willing to push the pace in the middle of the race. On that strategy he said, “I always say we have to separate men from boys, and that’s what I always do. I always like break up the field so that there’s strong ones that stay.”
8) The Fat Cat Politicians are Fat in Kenya
Wesley is not a big fan of the fat-cat politician in Kenya. He said, “Also, I’ve noticed the reason why Kenya is the way it is is because selfish, greedy, and bad leadership. Is sycophants. People are such sycophants; worship the politicians instead of standing for what is right.”
And Wesley said the MPs are literally fat in Kenya. He said, “They told me, since Parliament started, nobody has ever been able to run that fast. So Parliamentarians are all fat when I stand up to speak in Parliament, the speaker always say Wesley, the runner. So that is the thing that keeps me known all over the country.”
Video with Wesley below.