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Why Jet Li says he turned down Richard Nixon’s personal bodyguard offer when he was 11

Jet Li Nixon
  • Legendary martial arts star Jet Li, whose full Chinese name is Li Lianjie, turned down then-President Richard Nixon’s offer to be his personal bodyguard after he performed with China’s national wushu team outside the White House in 1974.
  • His White House visit was the last stop of the team’s U.S. tour that year.
  • Li shared that after the performance, Nixon asked him, “How about being my bodyguard when you grow up?”
  • “No. I don’t want to protect any individual,” Li, who was 11 years old at the time, replied. “When I grow up, I want to defend my one billion Chinese countrymen!”
  • Then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger purportedly broke the “uncomfortable silence” that followed by jokingly stating, “Heavens, such a young boy, and he already speaks like a diplomat!”

Legendary martial arts star Jet Li once turned down then-President Richard Nixon’s offer to be his personal bodyguard during a visit to the United States when he was 11 years old.

Li performed with China’s national wushu team throughout their U.S. tour in 1974. He first met Nixon during the final stop of the tour, the 59-year-old martial arts star recalled in his now-offline essay