Former President Barack Obama once broke a basketball teammate’s nose with his fist for calling him a racial slur during locker room dust-up in middle school, he said in a new interview.
The 59-year-old opened up for the first time about slugging his ex-middle school pal on his new podcast with rock star Bruce Springsteen Monday.
“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” Obama told the “Glory Days” singer during a conversation about race on Spotify’s “Renegades: Born in the USA.”
“And one time we got into a fight and he called me a c—n,” Obama said of the argument in his home state. “Now first of all, ain’t no c–ns in Hawaii, right?”
“It’s one of those things that — where he might not even known what a c–n was — what he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this,’” Obama said.
“And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room…I explained to him — I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that.’”
After hearing the story, Springsteen chimed in: “Well done.”
The former leader of the free world mentioned the incident briefly in his 1995 memoir, “Dreams of My Father” — but it’s reportedly the first time he’s spoken about the incident publicly.
In the book, Obama described racial tension going up in Hawaii and finding solace on the basketball court before being called the slur.
“My mind would run down a ledger of slights: the first boy, in seventh grade, who called me a c–n; his tears of surprise — ‘why’dya do that?’ — when I gave him a bloody nose,” he wrote.
On the podcast, which centers on politics, family and race, Obama called the use of racist hate speech an attempt by one person to gain “status over the other.”
“‘I may be poor. I may be ignorant. I may be mean. I may be ugly. I may not like myself. I may be unhappy. But you know what I’m not?’” Obama said to Springsteen. “‘I’m not you.’”
“That basic psychology that then gets institutionalized is used to justify dehumanizing somebody, taking advantage of ’em, cheatin’ ’em, stealin’ from ’em, killin’ ’em, raping ’em,” Obama said.
“Whatever it is, at the end of the day it really comes down to that. And in some cases it’s as simple as, you know, ‘I’m scared, I’m insignificant and not important. And this thing is the thing that’s going to give me some importance,’” Obama said.