Today’s post comes from Christopher Abraham at the Eisenhower Presidential Library. He answers a question each week on Facebook. This week’s Ask an Archivist query comes from Kansas.
“Did Knute Rockne ever box Dwight D. Eisenhower? I heard that this took place in Abilene, Kansas, around 1913.” – Anonymous
We have heard this story before. The legend goes that Rockne, who would later gain fame as a football coach for Notre Dame, traveled the country as an exhibition boxer and took on a young Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene. Rockne then attempted to convince him to become a professional boxer.
Unfortunately for presidential and sports historians, this event never took place.
In a 1947 letter to his former aide Harry Butcher, Eisenhower wrote “There is no truth whatsoever in the story about Knute Rockne trying to interest me in a professional boxer’s career. The people who got that story started took two or three little different incidents, put them all together into a single story, and came up with some weird and wonderful ideas.”
Ann Whitman, the president’s personal secretary, wrote in 1956 that, “the President says there is not a word of truth in this–-and that he never met Knute Rockne until he was grown up.”
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