By DeLane McDuffie

All of this talk of 21st-century ripped first ladies and cut-up commander-in-chiefs has got me feeling nostalgic. Let's take it back to the old school—back when presidential hopefuls didn't have nice supplements to swallow, scientifically tested workout regimens, and state-of-the-art gyms. To stay in shape in those days, you had to outrun a mountain lion every morning or bench-press a stagecoach, with your family in it. You already know that T.R., FDR, and JFK were tough individuals, physically and/or mentally. No surprises there. Match these presidents with their tough-guy qualities.
  1. Andrew Jackson – The Brawler. One of the most popular U.S. presidents, this wild-eyed redhead (until it turned gray) proved his toughness by fighting in two wars, the War of 1812 and the First Seminole War. Historians estimate that he participated in 14 to 50 duels. When he wasn't getting the nation out of debt or trying to exterminate Native Americans, he was beating people down with his hands. Man hands! Just ask Richard Lawrence, the would-be assassin whose, not one, but TWO pistols misfired while trying to ice Jackson. Immediately, "Old Hickory" was all over Lawrence, like white on rice, attacking him with furious punches and some serious cane lashing. And to top it off, the man walked around with two bullets lodged in his side. Hard-core!
  2. Abraham Lincoln – The Giant. The man in the top hat was no joke. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, "Honest Abe" was, honestly, the tallest U.S. president. He was self-educated and governed during one of the most turbulent times in American history. He was also an avid wrestler and deceptively strong, and burly Jack Armstrong knew this all too well. Word is their match ended with Lincoln snatching Armstrong by the neck, holding him out at arm's length, and then shaking him like a ragdoll, showing Armstrong that Lincoln's arm's strong, too.
  3. George Washington – The Muscle. Forget about legends and folklore of wooden teeth and chopping down cherry trees, Washington was a larger-than-life figure. This 6-foot-2-inch (6 inches taller than the average man at the time) war hero was not only a founding father, but he was also a ridiculously gifted athlete, excelling at many events. Legend has it that he flung a coin-shaped chunk of slate across the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Apparently, no one has done it since. This is before protein shakes, people! In another account, G.W. hurled an iron javelin way past his competitors' marks—all while still wearing his coat and daring them to try to beat it! George Washington will break your face!
  4. Ronald Reagan – The Lifesaver. "The Gipper" may have been a Hollywood actor who enjoyed the benefits of his celebrity for a time, but don't let that fool you. The dude was tough as nails . . . and hammers. Not only was he a 3-sport high school athlete, at age 69, he was the oldest person ever elected to the presidential office. Survival is a tough-guy requirement. Like Jackson, he survived an assassination attempt. On the flip side of that, he also saved 77 lives during his seven summers as a lifeguard. Plus, one of his favorite movies was Rambo. Tough guys everywhere just nodded their heads in respect.
  5. Gerald Ford – The All-American. Born Leslie Lynch King, Jr., Gerald Ford proved his less-than-tough birth name wrong. He was yet another war-vet president who could break your face. Despite surviving falling down some stairs and being known as the guy who pardoned Nixon, Ford also sent the Grim Reaper packing twice when he survived two assassination attempts. In his younger days, he played center for the University of Michigan's football team, walking away with the 1932 and 1933 national championships (undefeated for both seasons) and making the 1935 college all-star squad. The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers both wanted him, but he turned them down cold. Why? Because he could. That's why! Tough guys do what they want. (He wanted to attend Yale.)