Before I begin, I want to make it clear that I LOVE Bruce Lee. When I was a kid he made me feel like Asian American boys could be more than the awkward guy lusting after the girl (which was pretty much the only representation of Asian American men on television/film at the time). For once, the badass kinda looked like me.
But when one of the 8Asians editors brought to my attention that Bruce Lee had an undescended testicle, I admit I was intrigued. I had never heard that before and was curious to find out if it was true or some kind of (strange) backhanded racist BS.
This is what I found…
First, what is an undescended testicle and how common is it? According to “The Facts on Undescended Testicles”:
As a baby boy grows inside his mother’s womb, his testicles typically form inside his abdomen and move down (descend) into the scrotum shortly before birth. But in some cases, that move or descent doesn’t occur, and the baby is born with a condition known as undescended testicles (or cryptorchidism).
Cryptorchidism is the most common genital abnormality in boys, affecting approximately 30% of baby boys born prematurely and about 4% born at term.
Next, I did a basic Google search on Bruce Lee and undescended testicles. It quickly became clear to me that this was somewhat common knowledge to many of Bruce Lee’s biggest fans and detractors.
However, I wanted to find a somewhat reliable source (not on a message board or Yahoo! Answers). But because I couldn’t find any pictures (thank goodness) or anyone close to him that mentioned it (and really, why would they?), I can’t be 100% sure whether or not he really had an undescended testicle.
The best I could find were a couple of references mentioned in various biographies about him. If these accounts are to be believed, his undescended testicle possibly saved his life. Let me explain. According to the biography, Remembering the Master by Sid Campbell, Greglon Lee, it prevented him from being drafted during the Vietnam war.
At the end of the summer and upon his return to Seattle, he found his draft papers waiting. He went to the Induction center but was amazed to find himself rejected by the U.S. Army, classified as “4F” due to an apparently undescended testicle, poor eyesight, and a sinus disorder. Bruce was somewhat bemused to be the fittest man the Army ever rejected; however, he did eventually don a uniform as a member of the campus ROTC squad.
How does this affect Bruce Lee’s legacy?
Let me repeat myself. The fact that Bruce Lee had an undescended testicle DOES NOT affect his legacy. Nor does it make him less of a man in any way. He was still a total badass. Despite some popular misconceptions, people suffering from cryptorchidism can have a normal sex life and have offspring (both of which should be fairly obvious considering Bruce had two kids).
Cryptorchidism is actually pretty serious. Most newborns with the disorder have surgery if the testicle doesn’t descend on its own. Based on what I read, there is a higher risk of testicular cancer if not treated.
If there is one thing you take from this article, it should be that having only one testicle is NOT the end of the world. Here is a list (some person with a lot of time on their hands put together) of famous people with one testicle. If you don’t feel like clicking over, here are some of the names they mention: Francisco Franco, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Lance Armstrong, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even though it seems like there is a high number of ruthless fascists on the list, this list is not comprehensive and I do not believe (despite what some people I read online may argue) that having one testicle predisposes a person to becoming a ruthless dictator. The fact is that most live normal uneventful lives.
Finally, who cares if Bruce Lee did or did not have an undescended testicle. It’s none of our business. Then why am I writing about it? Good question. I’ll stop. Have a nice day.