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CLASS OF ’65

Humble Athlete, Fierce Competition

When the U.S. team for martial arts competes at the Summer 2004 Olympics, George Weiss W’65 will be among those stepping out into the ring. “Probably the most exciting thing for me is to be perceived as a world-class athlete,” says the Penn trustee, money manager, and philanthropist [“The Gift,” December 1997], who just turned 60.

You might say that Weiss’s journey to Athens began with a broken back 15 years ago. Weiss was looking for a way to rehabilitate faster from the injury. At the suggestion of another alumnus, he decided to take up martial arts. Though Weiss started learning tae kwon do for physical therapy, he found himself taken with the discipline and respect of the sport. “It’s the way athletics should be,” he says. “Everybody tries to be the best they can be, but they’re competing against themselves. And everybody is always helping each other.”

In January Weiss represented the United States at the World Cup for Martial Arts in Cancun, Mexico, winning two gold medals and one bronze medal, and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team. Martial arts is currently designated a demonstration sport, which means that Olympic gold medals won’t be awarded. In no way, however, does that soften the rigor of training.

When reached in March at his money-management firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Weiss was about to start training again. For the World Cup he followed an intensive schedule of martial-arts practice, weightlifting, cross training, and stretching. “They tell me it’s going to get a lot worse. Competition is going to be fierce over there.”

Even so, Weiss is unlikely to organize a Penn cheering section in Athens. In this sport, there is no room for an Olympic-sized ego. “Martial arts is really about humility.”


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2003 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 04/28/03

 

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