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Presidents’ Day is used every year to celebrate all presidents of the U.S. and George Washington’s birthday, with some states also celebrating President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
As the U.S. honors the U.S. leaders, it’s fun to look back at the sporting achievements of some presidents.
Read below for a look at how some former presidents fared in the athletic arena.
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President Abraham Lincoln
The History Channel noted that President Lincoln was an amateur wrestler in the 1830s. “Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, Vol. 1” detailed Lincoln wrestling and beating Jack Armstrong, who was a champion from a nearby town.
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame honored Lincoln in 1992 as an “Outstanding American.”
President Theodore Roosevelt
President Roosevelt has been described as the ultimate sportsman. He was a boxer and a wrestler, and he played tennis and polo. He would regularly box at the White House and was injured by his military aide Col. Daniel T. Moore in a sparring session.
His sporting legacy has left an imprint on one of the greatest superstars of any professional sport – Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl champion has quoted Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech and used the speech as the title for his ESPN documentary.
President William Taft
President Taft attended Yale in 1874 and competed in intramural wrestling. He was the heavyweight champion at one point during his time at the school.
According to the Miller Center, Taft was a solid baseball player, as well.
President Herbert Hoover
President Hoover attended Stanford University and became the student-manager for the baseball and football teams. He helped organize the rivalry football game between Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley, which is known as The Big Game.
The first game was played on March 19, 1892. Stanford won 14-10.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
President Roosevelt attended Harvard and served as a cheerleader on the squad to help support the football team. He is among several presidents who served as cheerleaders during their time in college.
Roosevelt attended Harvard from 1900 to 1903.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Eisenhower was a star running back at West Point in 1912 but he injured his knee in a game and never took the football field again.
He was also a boxer, cheerleader, and fencer. He practiced gymnastics during his time in college. Eisenhower said later in his life that not making the baseball team was one of his biggest regrets, according to Baseball Almanac.
President John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy went to Harvard after leaving Princeton.
Kenny made the swimming team but wasn’t a memorable athlete. His coaches in 1970 told The Crimson that Kennedy was “rather frail.” He competed in the 100-meter backstroke and the 300-meter medley.
He also tried out for football and golf while he was a member of the school.
President Richard Nixon
President Nixon attended Whittier College in California starting in 1930. Nixon played for the school’s basketball team and was a bench player for the football team, according to the book “The Contender,” which details Nixon’s Congressional years.
Nixon is in the Whittier College athletics Hall of Fame.
President Gerald Ford
President Ford was a standout center, linebacker and long snapper at the University of Michigan in the 1930s. The Wolverines were national champions during the 1932 and 1933 seasons. He won the Meyer Morton Award in 1932. The award was given to the Michigan player who showed the best development and promise at the spring practice from 1925 to 1949.
Ford was a part of the 1934 East-West Shrine Game and the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Game.
President Ronald Reagan
President Reagan excelled in football and swimming when he attended Eureka College in Illinois. He was able to attend the school on a partial football scholarship, according to the Miller Center.
Reagan portrayed George Gipp in the movie “Knute Rockne All American” in 1940.
President George H.W. Bush
President Bush was the team captain of the Yale University baseball team. He was on the team as a first baseman and helped the team make the first two College World Series in 1947 and 1948.
According to the National Archives, Bush was able to meet with Babe Ruth before a game during his senior season at Yale.
President Bill Clinton
President Clinton played two sports when he attended Oxford University.
He was a member of the Oxford University Basketball Club and the rugby union team. He is one of several NBA greats and former politicians to have played on the team.
George W. Bush
President Bush, like his father, was a cheerleader at Yale and also played on the rugby union team. He played fullback for the team in the late 1960s. Bush’s teammate Brit Kolar described Bush’s abilities to the Yale Daily News in 2006.
“What’s interesting was that he was a good enough athlete that he could play a skill position in rugby with relatively little experience,” Kolar said. “He had running skills, tackling skills and especially kicking skills.”
Bush was also a part-owner of the Texas Rangers in 1989 and sold his shares in 1998.
President Barack Obama
President Obama was a major sports fan. As a senator, he threw out the first pitch at a Chicago White Sox playoff game in 2005. By the time he took office in 2008, he had a basketball court installed at the White House. Kevin Durant and Scottie Pippen were among those who participated in games at the White House.
He invited the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning team to the White House since they weren’t able to go because of the Challenger Disaster two days after the team won Super Bowl XX.
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President Donald Trump
Before he was president, Trump was a three-sport athlete at the New York Military Academy. Accordng to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, one of those sports he excelled in was football.
Trump was later the majority owner of the United States Football League’s New Jersey Generals. The Generals were able to bring in the high-profile running backs Herschel Walker and Mike Rozier, as well as quarterback Doug Flutie, into the league in one of the most shocking moves in the brief battle between the NFL and USFL.
Trump had been blamed for the downfall of the league. According to ESPN, he urged the league to move the schedule to the fall and later the anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL. The USFL won the lawsuit but was awarded a final judgment of $1 which was later tripled to $3. The league folded before the 1986 season.
Trump also featured many big boxing fights at his Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos and pro golf championships at his resorts. He nearly bought the Buffalo Bills in 2014.
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