Elon Musk, an engineer, is the richest person on the planet, the basis for Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man character, has seven children the youngest of whom are legally named X AE A-XII (known as X) and Exa Dark Sideræl (known as Y), and was bullied badly in high school. For that reason, he developed an early interest in martial arts.
Elon Musk Martial Arts Background
“For the longest time, I was the youngest and the smallest kid in the class because my birthday just happens to fall on almost the last day that they will accept you into school, June 28th," said Musk in 2018 to Neil Strauss for Rolling Stone. "And I was a late bloomer. So I was the youngest and the smallest kid in class for years and years. …The gangs at school would hunt me down — literally hunt me down!”
In response, Musk learned martial arts and grew to six feet by the age of 16. Then, he says, “I started dishing it out as hard as they’d give it to me.”
Specifically, he punched the biggest bully at school in the face.
“It taught me a lesson: If you’re fighting a bully, you cannot appease a bully.” said Musk, forcefully adding, “You punch the bully in the nose. Bullies are looking for targets that won’t fight back. If you make yourself a hard target and punch the bully in the nose, he’s going to beat the s*** out of you, but he’s actually not going to hit you again.”
Musk expanded on his martial arts experience during an appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience.
“I did martial arts when I was a kid," he said. "I did taekwondo, I did Karate - Kyokushinkai - and judo .... I did Brazilian jiu-jitsu briefly ... in Palo Alto. ... Probably like a lot of people, for the way early day fights, Royce Gracie, it was incredible, winning against people way bigger. It was amazing, Royce got beaten up pretty bad in some of those, but he won. ... I've sent my kids to jiu-jitsu since they were like six."
Elon Musk Challenges Johnny Depp To An MMA Fight
When Musk perceives bullying, he offers to throw down, physically.
In 2017, Musk dated actress Amber Heard. Heard and former husband Johnny Depp are currently suing each other in court. Depp accused Musk of being involved with Heard while she was still married. There were further allegations at the trial that Musk, Heard, and model Cara Delevingne had a threesome.
“I definitely was not having an affair with Amber while she was married to Johnny, this is totally false,” said Musk to Maureen Down for the New York Times. “We did not have the threesome, you know. So I think people think these things are generally more salacious than they are.”
Also read in court was a text from Depp to Christian Carino, Lady Gaga's former fiance.
"I'll show [Musk] things he's never seen before," wrote Depp. "Like the other side of his d*** when I slice it off."
When Dowd reminded Musk of the threat, the amused engineer offered a quick reply.
“If Johnny wants a cage fight, just let me know,” he quipped.
Depp never replied, but a friend of Depp's, now 69-year-old former amateur boxer Mickey Rourke did.
"I just read that Elon Musk has challenged Johnny Depp to a fight," wrote Rourke on his social network. "I have the better idea, if Elon Musk is in a fighting mood he can fight someone his own size. I’d gladly love the opportunity to take you to school Mr. Tough Guy Elon Musk. Bare fists, elbows, and knees, and I will only use one hand - my left. We can both put down $200k apiece, winner take all, no rules. So instead of picking on someone who weighs 130 lbs, I am calling your ass out. Warmest regards, Mickey 'Marielito' Rourke."
That one did not get a reply.
Elon Musk Challenges Vladimir Putin To An MMA Fight
And then there was the time Musk called out Vladimir Putin. When Russia invaded Ukraine, Musk supplied SpaceX Starlink satellite internet access to the defending forces. And in a series of tweets, Musk made his thoughts clear, in a mix of English and Cyrillic.
"I hereby challenge Vladimir Putin to single combat. Stakes are Ukraine."
Then he tagged the Kremlin's Twitter account, which is labeled as the President of Russia, and wrote in Cyrillic, "Do you agree to this fight?"
A Twitter user asked, "Did you think this through? Or am I missing something?"
Musk replied: "I am absolutely serious."
Another Twitter user wrote, "The fight would be over in 10 seconds. It would just depend on how much damage Elon would want to do and how fast. Nothing else. Elon is also 19 years younger."
Musk replied: "Pretty much."
Putin did not reply, but a response came in from Dmitry Rogozin, the director of Roscosmos, Russia's space program. The space boss posted a passage from a story by the great Russian poet Pushkin, based on a Russian fairy tale. It translates as:
Thou, little devil, art but young and frail;
Dost thou strive with me? thou wilt only fail;
It is time and labor lost for thee;
Outstrip my brother, and thou shalt see!
Musk then retorted with an argument over pay-per-view points, and a pic of himself with a flamethrower vs. a bear riding Putin.
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao doubted Musk, who responded with a sumo photo.
Musk then got into it with Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.
"Elon Musk, a word of advice: Don't measure your strength against that of Putin's," wrote Kadyrov on Telegram. "You're in two completely different leagues. ... [Putin] would beat the hell out of you, a much weaker opponent."
Kadyrov also offered some suggestions for where Musk might train, including the Russian Special Forces University, and Fight Club Akhmat in Grozny. "You will return from the Chechen Republic a completely different person Elon, that is, Elona," wrote Kadyrov, using a feminine version of the name.
Not one to miss an opportunity to troll, Elon changed his Twitter name to Elona, and republished Kadyrov's Telegram message, with a message that borrows apparently from Mickey Rourke.
"Thank you for the offer, but such excellent training would give me too much of an advantage," wrote Musk. "If he is afraid to fight, I will agree to use only my left hand and I am not even left-handed. Elona."
Joe Rogan enthusiastically offered to help train Musk, during a JRE interview with guest Australian comedian Monty Franklin.
"Elon Musk wants ... he wants to fight Putin. Have you seen that? ... I offered my services. I texted him [and] I said, 'Dude I will arrange all of your training. If you really do fight Putin, I will arrange all your training,' It would be so f***ing epic. ... I would bring Firas Zahabi in from Montreal to train Elon Musk."
UItimately, no reply was forthcoming from the Russian president, and Musk had a parting note.
Who Would Win?
The fighting in Ukraine is killing thousands, and thus not a fit source for pre-fight trash talk material. With that acknowledged, how would Musk fare vs. Johnny Depp or Vladimir Putin?
Depp is 58 years old, 5' 10" and perhaps 170 pounds, while Musk is 6' 2" and over 190 pounds. Depp has no known combat sports or martial arts background, while Musk does, so the odds favor the engineer over the actor. Adding even more credence to that, in Musk's corner would be none other than Conor McGregor's coach, the great John Kavanagh.
Vladimir Putin is a different story. While Kavanagh offered to provide training vs. Depp, even with Rogan's offer of Firas Zahabi in the corner, a largely untrained figure fighting Putin would be a reach.
Musk does have the size advantage, as Putin is said to be 5' 7" and 160 pounds. And Musk has the age edge, as the Russian president is 69 years old. However, Putin is a former KGB agent, with a lifetime training in martial arts.
Putin is a former competitive judoka, who has written a book on the subject, Judo: History, Theory, Practice. He started practicing martial arts as a young teen, earned a black belt equivalent at around 18, and won a citywide judo title.
"I started practicing this sport when I was 14, and as a matter of fact, what I did start engaging in was something called sambo, which is a Russian acronym for, quote, 'self-defense without weapons,' unquote, which is a Russian wrestling technique," said Putin to NPR. "And, after that, I joined a gym that was teaching judo. And I was what they call a master of sports. We have our sporting ranks, and the equivalent of the black belt I received when I was, I guess, 18, in judo. And all my adult life I have been practicing judo — I guess I can put it this way — and I do love the sport tremendously. And I think that there is more to it than just sport. I think it’s also a philosophy in a way, and I think it’s a philosophy that teaches one to treat one’s partner with respect. And I engage in this sport with pleasure and try to have regular practices still. Yes, still."
Putin was awarded his 6th dan in judo at the Kodokan in 2000, his 7th dan in 2009, and in 2012 became the first Russian to be awarded an 8th degree. While these degrees are honorary, that is the nature of judo rank above 5th degree - it's for contribution to the sport.
This footage of Putin working out with the Russian national judo team in 2019 is indicative of the Russian president's skill. There is a great deal of similar footage available. While this is not randori, you can't fake the posture, footwork, etc. So while to someone who has never played judo, Putin's throws may look as ridiculous and choreographed as Aikido, they aren't. Vladimir Putin has a lifetime training in the great martial art of judo.
Putin has a wholly honorary 8th degree in Kyokushinkai karate, bestowed by Hatsuo Royam, head of Kyokushin Kan. For the record, this is not Putin doing kyokushin.
In 2013, Putin was awarded a 9th degree black belt by World Taekwondo Federation head Choue Chung-won. That belt has since been rescinded over events in Ukraine. Further, the Russian national flag and anthem cannot be displayed or played at WTF events, and no events can be held there. As well, the International Judo Federation has suspended Putin's status as the organization's honorary president, and has prohibited IJF events from being held in Russia.
Setting aside international calamity, and returning to the infinitely less weighty subject at hand, it appears as if Elon Musk would go 1-1 in his callouts, beating Depp while hearing the cool commands from John Kavanagh, and losing to Vladimir Putin.
Who do you think Elon Musk should call out next?