This is a fun little article to name some of the famous rowers out there.
Rowing is a very small community compared to some of the world’s major sports like baseball and soccer (…ok football).
So when you discover a person rows or did row, you feel like you have some small connection to them.
The list of famous rowers isn’t that big but that’s what makes it great! You may even find yourself liking the person more than you previously did!
I split this article into two sections:
- Celebrities Who Row
- Rowers Who Are Now Famous
The “Celebrities Who Row” section is a list of already famous people who use a rowing machine to exercise and stay in shape. Luckily, many celebrities are utilizing a rowing machine more and more because they find it to be the best way to stay fit while always on the move.
The “Rowers Who Are Now Famous” section is a list of now famous people who used to row in University. Most of these celebrities still row because once you start, it’s kind of hard to stop!
Top 5 Celebrities Who Row
The list of celebrities who row can actually be very long because many people use them to lose weight and stay in shape.
Rowing machines are also very popular among famous athletes because they are a full-body, low-impact workout that trainers love!
Below is a list of the most famous celebrities who row, many of whom can be seen rowing on their social media pages.
#1: Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)
Hugh Jackman has been using a rowing machine to get in shape since he first started playing Wolverine.
He even credits the rowing machine as the main reason why he became so ripped for the part!
There are many articles on the web about the Wolverine rowing plan and Hugh Jackman still posts his workouts on his Twitter account and his Instagram account!
In April 2017, he posted a monitor photo showing he rowed a 7 min 2k for the first time in 5 years!
#2: Jason Statham
Jason Statham is another actor who uses a rowing machine to stay in shape for his action movies.
He is a fitness freak who is always in shape and loves using a Concept2. His Instagram account is often updated with photos of him rowing, like the one below.
You can check out more of Jason Statham’s photos on his Instagram account.
#3: Conor McGregor
Conor McGregor has become very popular in the past few years and is going to become even more popular due to his upcoming boxing match with Floyd Mayweather.
He is constantly using a Concept2 Rowing Machine and has stated several times in interviews that he uses one to improve his cardio.
Conor Mcgregor even created a training program that requires a Concept2 Rower. You can read more about the Conor McGregor rowing machine history in my article.
#4: Kevin Spacey
How could I not include Kevin Spacey on a list of famous rowers?
While Kevin Spacey isn’t an avid rower, he does enjoy using one to stay in shape. It was also his idea to have Frank Underwood use one in House of Cards.
Kevin Spacey said he liked the metaphorical comparison of rowing to politics in Washington. I wrote more about the comparison in my Kevin Spacey Rowing Machine article.
#5: Gerard Butler
Preparing yourself to play a Spartan King is no easy task. Especially, when this Greek warrior King was completely shredded!
However, when Gerard Butler was cast to play King Leonidas in the movie “300” he turned to the rowing machine for help.
He even mentions in an interview that the best way to maintain his physique was to use a rowing machine. You can watch the whole interview in my article about losing weight using a rowing machine.
Bonus: Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain
Coming across articles about Wilt Chamberlain rowing was one of the biggest surprises during my research.
Wilt was one of the most dominant players in NBA history and once scored 100 points in a game!
After retiring from the NBA he picked up a number of competitive hobbies including single scull rowing! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture of him in a scull but here is a photo of him running in high school!
At 7’1″, he purportedly had a custom made scull to accommodate his large size.
Rowers Who Became Famous
On the other side of the “Famous Rowers” lists are the people who started rowing well before they ever became a celebrity.
Many of these individuals used the extremely hard work ethic required by the sport to propel them into successful careers and even the presidency!
#1: Theodore Roosevelt
Before becoming President, Teddy Roosevelt was a well-known bad ass. In 1876, he was on the boxing and crew team at Harvard University.
Below is a photo of Roosevelt in his crew uniform at Harvard.
After Harvard, Roosevelt continued his run as a bad ass by joining the Rough Riders and fought in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.
Theodore Roosevelt then became President in 1901 after President William McKinley was shot and killed.
Add rowing at Harvard to a long list of reasons why you should love Teddy Roosevelt!
#2: Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking, the genius theoretical physicist and author, was once a coxswain at Oxford University.
Is was reported that Hawking’s first had difficulties making friends so he joined the college boat club “to be one of the boys”.
He was later known for his daredevil antics which often resulted in damaged boats! Not what I expected while reading about Professor Stephen Hawking rowing!
#3: Hugh Laurie
Yes, Dr. House was indeed a rower. His father, Ran Laurie, even won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs at the 1948 London Games.
Like his father, Hugh Laurie began rowing at Cambridge and even competed at the 1977Junior World Rowing Championship.
Dr. House was on track to become an Olympic rower but after falling ill and having to put a hold on training, he joined the University drama club. It was here that he began shifting his focus towards acting.
Hugh Laurie still belongs to the “Leander Club”, one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world.
#4: Helen Keller
Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to receive a Bachelors of Arts degree and is an inspiration to deaf and blind people around the world.
She proved that other people with her disabilities could participate and accomplish many things that were thought to be impossible.
One activity she enjoyed participating in was rowing! She learned to row while in Massachusetts and enjoyed having her friends in the boat to steer her in the right direction.
She has a beautiful passage about rowing in her book “The Story of My Life” which you can read here.
“What is more exhilarating than to make your staunch little boat, obedient to your will and muscle, go skimming lightly over glistening, tilting waves, and to feel the steady, imperious surge of the water!”
#5: Anderson Cooper
While studying Political Science at Yale, Anderson Cooper was a member of the crew team.
At first he failed to keep up with his teammates and nearly lost his spot on the boat. He then found a position as a coxswain where he was able to excel and keep his position.
Cooper was 5’10” and 145 lbs. at the time which is incredibly large for a coxswain. He constantly had to lose weight to make the 125 lb. race weight.
Coaches and teammates called Cooper’s work ethic and intensity absurd but said even after all the hard work and weight loss, he was still able to keep his spirits up!
Other Rowers Who Became Famous
Below are some other notable celebrities who had spent some time on their University crew teams.
- Bradley Cooper: Rowed at Georgetown University. After missing most the season Bradley Cooper and a bunch of misfits nearly out beat Minnesota in the Dad Vail Regatta. Cooper’s coach said it was one of the best races he had seen because Brad and his crew had no reason to be there! Just pure will and tenacity!
- Edward Norton: Rowed while studying at Yale University.
- Winklevoss Twins: Yes, the twins who rowed at Harvard University and had the “original” idea for Facebook. They were made famous in the movie the “Social Network” where they were “enemies” of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
You can see other notable rowers throughout history at World Rowing and Rowing History.
More Famous Rowers?
Do you know any other famous rowers?
I’m sure there are a lot of very famous people who have rowed in college or continue to row now.
The great thing about rowing is you can enjoy it no matter what age your are, so the list will keep on growing!
I would love to get a complete list of famous rowers, so if you know of any please leave them in the comment section below!