If there’s anything that just screams ‘MERICA, it’s a good old fashioned a** whoopin. And believe it or not, quite a few US presidents throughout history were quite adept at handing them out. The history of our nation is woven with all sorts of striking and grappling arts from both far and near, and some of the leaders in the history of the free world chose to take part.
The 26th president of the United States was quite the badass. Teddy Roosevelt always took a liking to fighting. When Roosevelt was an adolescent he trained mainly in western boxing until a hard blow damaged his retina, after that he chose to focus on the grappling arts.
Teddy’s grappling art of choice was Judo. Teddy witnessed a judo demonstration one afternoon by world renowned Judoka Yamashita Yoshiaki, and decided that he had to give it a try. During the course of his training, Roosevelt stated that though he was aging, his instructors could throw him around without injuring him. After years of training, Teddy earned the rank of 3rd Brown in Judo, which is an amazing feat and just short of shodan [first degree black belt].
Although the 7th president did not actually study any traditional martial arts, Andrew Jackson might be the most badass president in the history of the world. In the best and worst kind of ways. Jackson was such a ball breaker that he was known as “old hickory” , because according to people of the time, he was as tough as a piece of old hickory on the battlefield. Jackson joined the army at the age of 12 and was known for fist fighting people at the drop of a hat. If you even looked at Jackson the wrong way, you’d find yourself in a gun duel. Just ask Charles Dickenson, who found himself on the business end of a pistol and 6 feet underground in 1806. What Andrew lacked in technique suitable for fighting, he made up for with pure grit and toughness.
Before he was fighting slavery, Lincoln was fighting bullies. Standing at 6 foot 4 inches tall weighing upwards of 200 pounds, word got around rather quickly in Lincolns hometown of his tremendous strength, which led to every bully far and near wanting a piece of him. Legend has it that a local bully named Jack challenged Lincoln to a wrestling match to which Abe agreed, and Jack was quickly defeated. Lincoln was trained in the art of collar and elbow wrestling, and was one of the best wrestlers in Illinois.
The story of Washington chopping down the cherry tree has been exaggerated and overemphasized over the centuries. A more accurate statement would be that George Washington enjoyed chopping down people. Washington, much like Lincoln, was trained in the European style of wrestling known as “Collar and Elbow”. Washington won a school championship and developed a reputation as being the best wrestler in the state of Virginia.
William Howard Taft, known by his colleagues as “big bill”, was the heaviest president in history clocking in at well over 300 pounds. Taft was also trained in collar and elbow wrestling as well as the intramural champion of the Yale boxing club. Big Bill was the 4th generation athlete in his family and weighed around 225 pounds in his athletic prime.