Thought I’d ring in the country’s birthday with some interesting anecdotes about the physical conditioning of our past Commanders-in-Chief.
-George Washington had incredible grip strength. It was said he could crack a walnut shell with one hand. (Note: This is much harder than it sounds. Try it.)
-John Quincy Adams took a daily swim in the Potomac River before attending to his presidential duties.
-Abraham Lincoln was a great wrestler. There is an oft repeated anecdote from his younger years regarding a bout he had with Jack Armstrong in 1832 where he “picked the man up up the neck, held him up at arm’s length, and shook him like a child.”
-Being a sickly, asthmatic child, Teddy Roosevelt took up sports at the behest of his father. He studied both boxing and judo and even had a regular boxing coach on call at the White House during his presidency. During his term he was visited by Mitsua”Count Koma”Maeda, the Japanese judoka who taught jiujitsu to some kid named Carlos Gracie in Brazil (who, in turn, taught his brothers Osvaldo, Gastao Jr., Jorge, and Helio, and so on, and so on…).
-Dwight Eisenhower was the last President (that I know of, anyway) capable of performing one-arm pullups. He was able to do at least one at the age of 56 (during his presidency). He also established the President’s Council on Youth Fitness (which just celebrated its 50th anniversary this past May. What? You mean you weren’t invited to the party?).
-JFK, having sustained a back injury in WWII, suffered from debilitating back pain. His abdominal muscles were reportedly so weak that he was unable to perform a single sit-up. However, an Austrian-born surgeon, Dr. Hans Kraus, put Kennedy on an exercise regimen that helped to rehab Kennedy’s back (Incidentally, it was this same Dr. Kraus who pushed Eisenhower to establish the President’s Council on Youth Fitness).
Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Feel free to post your own presidential feats of strength (or otherwise) in the comments section below.