This Sport Blinded Teddy Roosevelt In One Eye

Modern presidents find a variety of ways to keep in shape. According to CNN, they may run, they may bike, they may even play basketball. But in the past, they found different methods, and one of them included boxing. President Teddy Roosevelt was extremely fond of boxing, according to the Chicago Tribune. He thought it was a great thing to do to keep trim. It served him well for quite a while but he also got a severe injury from it — near-blindness in one eye.

When Roosevelt boxed, he liked to have either younger aides or army officers come to the White House and go several rounds with him in the ring. One time, though, in 1905, an Army artillery officer named Captain Daniel T. Meade got a punch through President Roosevelt’s defenses and clocked him in the face so hard that it wound up causing burst vessels in his left eye as well as a likely detached retina, according to We Are the Mighty.

The thing was, Captain Meade didn’t know he had caused the injury until President Roosevelt revealed it in his autobiography 12 years later. The extent of it was hidden from all but a select few around him. This was done to keep the world from knowing that the leader of the free world was impaired beyond just needing to wear glasses.

Teddy Roosevelt needed to find a new way to stay in shape

President Roosevelt was not the only one to suffer a detached retina from boxing. The legendary champion, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, also had this issue, according to the Los Angeles Times. He didn’t let it bother him when he fought and defeated “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler in 1987. He then retired right after that fight, not risking any more damage in a rematch.

The same injury made President Roosevelt reconsider still boxing at the age of 50, per the Chicago Tribune. While he likely felt young, his reflexes were not what they were before, which is why the punch was likely able to land where it did. So he decided to scale back and as he wrote in his autobiography, he did jiu-jitsu instead. He also said it was fortunate that the detached retina was not in the eye that he used to aim a gun for his shooting.

It would be much more difficult for a president to hide such an injury to the public now. President Roosevelt lived during a time where television had yet to be invented and he was likely able to choreograph any appearances. People would find out well before any autobiography had been written.

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