The past century has produced remarkable gentlemen who have had a significant impact on the society around them and the world at large. Hailing from different cultures, backgrounds, and generations, their dedication to their life visions and excellence in their craft is their unifying factor. Too many to cover in one blog post or even one book, today we look at five of this legendary group of gentlemen.
It’s hard to keep track of all the incredible things Nelson Mandela accomplished. The world all over has been inspired by his actions, wisdom, and extraordinary personal sacrifices for his beliefs.
Even though he was imprisoned for his stand against racial discrimination in South Africa, his activism continued while in prison. He was a mentor to fellow prisoners and taught them about nonviolent resistance.
He also sent notes to the outside world and was a consistent symbol for the anti-apartheid movement. Nelson Mandela demonstrated remarkable leadership through his advocacy for peace and forgiveness even after being imprisoned for 27 years!
He’s quoted saying, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” Willingness to forgive and let go of bitterness or hurt is truly one of the most powerful traits to develop as a gentleman.
Sir David Attenborough
Known for his lifelong appreciation and unyielding love for nature and preservation, Sir David Attenborough is one of the most distinguished gentlemen of the past century.
Over a career spanning 60 years, he has brought great awareness and interest in the planet’s rarest animals, plants, and natural phenomena. He also trekked through uncharted wilderness to film some of the remotest people on earth, immersing himself in their cultures.
For example, he wore nothing but a loincloth while filming in the Solomon Islands. Having traveled well over 250,000 miles across the planet (10 times around the world and counting), he is now regarded as one of the most renowned and experienced natural historians.
At the age of 94, Sir David Attenborough is still going strong and advocating for the causes he believes in. His sense of adventure, integrity, unmistakable voice, and creativity are only a few of the qualities that make him an iconic gentleman.
Terry Fox was a Canadian athlete and cancer research activist who passed away from cancer. After having his right leg amputated at 18, he decided to run across Canada to raise awareness and money for cancer research. In 1980, he embarked on a run—dubbed the Marathon of Hope— from the east to west across Canada.
His cancer spread and eventually forced him to end his quest after running 3,339 miles in 143 days. Despite this, his efforts managed to raise $24 million! Soon afterward, Terry Fox became the youngest person to be made a Companion of the Order of Canada.
He was also awarded the 1980 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year and named a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada. Not only that, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, and many institutions and landmarks named in his honor have been named after him.
To date, the annual Terry Fox Run has raised more than $800 million for cancer research. Terry’s love for his fellow mankind despite his terminal illness is a true display of selflessness and exemplifies true greatness.
Dwayne Johnson(The Rock)
Hailed as one of Hollywood’s most successful actors, Dwayne Johnson also popularly referred to as “The Rock.” One of the most challenging things to do in life is to reinvent yourself, but that is precisely what he did—successfully making the transition from pro wrestling to acting.
Dwayne comes from a family of wrestlers, with both his father and grandfather being professional wrestlers. He went on to be the first wrestler to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship six times. Then in 2001, Johnson was offered the starring role in “The Scorpion King.”
This was his first starring role and set a Guinness World Record for the highest salary ever paid to a first-time starring actor. In the past two decades, he has risen to be one of the most famous and top-earning actors in Hollywood.
Entrepreneurial and progressive, Dwayne Johnson is ever-striving, heading for the top, and is the perfect example of what hard work, deviation, and a crazy work ethic can achieve.
Sir Winston Churchill
In our article:8 Interesting Facts About Sir Winston Churchill, we talked about this iconic and courageous 20th-century world leader. Churchill, through his famed speeches, gave hope to millions during one of their darkest periods.
From writing every word of his famed speeches, rising from the ashes of a terrible World War 1 display to his daring escape from a prison camp at the age of 25, Churchill Winston displayed courage, resilience, eloquence, and excellent leadership skills.
All of which make up the essential fabric of the modern-day gentleman.
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What defines a true gentleman? This question has been asked for generations, and no one can claim to have a definite answer. The truth is no one trait defines a gentleman.
At the end of the day, what it comes down to is having a worthy purpose in life and dedicating yourself to accomplishing that pursuit.
May it be saving the world’s oceans, winning wars, or entrepreneurial exploits, a true gentleman is defined by his life’s pursuits and the character he develops along the way.