In different historical periods, there were peculiar names and jobs for what we call an armed bodyguard today. In ancient Rome, they were the Praetorian Guard, serving as personal bodyguards and intelligence for Roman emperors. Then there was Anna Loginova, a KGB-trained lady who owned an exclusively female bodyguard company. All in all, the developmental path of the armed bodyguard is a long and enticing one.
Although we are confident that history neglected many bodyguards in the meantime, we should still try to establish who is or was the best armed bodyguard in the world. And there is a number of those we can choose from.
But first thing’s first. What are our criteria for discovering the most invaluable bodyguard of all time?
What is the Best Armed Bodyguard Made Of?
If you’re expecting a short and sweet answer to this question, we’ll have to disappoint you. There is no such thing as easy and quick fixes and solutions in the executive protection and bodyguard business. Everything is about planning, advance work, superior driving skills, and responding to events rather than reacting to them.
The emphasis is on the brains, not the muscles so much.
Hence, the answer to the question is more complicated than we may have thought at first. When we asked Radoslav Savkov, an expert with almost two decades of experience, about the key traits of an industry professional today, he said:
In my opinion, the key traits are the numerous soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, sense of tact, integrity, diplomacy, etiquette, social and organizational skills, IT and cybersecurity knowledge, etc.
He adds that an emphasis on social skills doesn’t minimize the precious nature of hard skills and recommends professionals adopt both skillsets.
That all sounds like a lot of work for any single person and even celebrity security team. How on Earth is it possible to obtain all these skills and still be a human being? That’s the thing. Most EP professionals and bodyguards will tell you it’s an uphill path, but the summit keeps moving.
It’s the same as with many other professions, really. You conquer one field of knowledge and skills, and before you know it, new tech comes into the market, and you find yourself always chasing the unattainable.
So, before you start beating yourself up for not being a perfect bodyguard or EP agent, know that all professionals are a work in progress.
Where’s Honor in All of This?
You probably noticed that we didn’t mention honor at all so far ― and here we mean the right kind of honor. Not the public recognition, the fame, the credit, and everything else that accompanies it. No, we mean the pride in any bodyguard and the sense of duty to shield the protectee and complete security goals.
Many―or even most―industry professionals don’t brag publicly about whose life they saved today or whose property they guarded. No, sir, they know it’s their job to provide top-notch protection to their principals. And it’s the other side of the spectrum, the untrained, bratty rookies who have no sense of respect, that is now tormenting the industry.
As Jared Van Driessche and Christian West put it in their one-of-a-kind EP Pretenders piece, republished on EP Wired:
An EP Pretender is someone who pretends to be an executive protection professional but isn’t. You can identify them by any number of traits and online inanities.
They go on to mention stuff like wearing a badge that states Executive Protection Agent, posting photos of themselves on coverage with their principals, and managing to casually get into media photos with them, among other things.
That’s why honor holds such a high standing in executive protection and the bodyguard business. Pretending to be part of the industry―when you’re just trying to rub off on your principal’s success―is a dirty, unpleasant, and dishonorable move.
In the end, the whole industry suffers from the incompetence of a few wannabes. Bear that in mind the next time you preach to someone why you’re the best bodyguard.
The Best Armed Bodyguards, Explained
Getting to the focus of this article, let’s now see if we can discover the best bodyguard of the 21st century. Or, for that matter, any century. Good luck with that, EP Wired, some of our well-intentioned readers may think to themselves.
And they might just be right. But we’ll do our best.
A true professional, also known for his charitable work, Elijah Shaw is an industry giant. He has coordinated security for multi-platinum recording artists Usher Raymond, R&B singer Chaka Khan, and comedian Chris Rock. Among other things, Elijah is well known for his unique looks and superb skills.
A genuine gentleman and celebrity bodyguard, Charles Carmine Zito Jr.―known for his nickname, Chuck Zito―is among the industry’s most active professionals. Apart from his protection job, he’s a brilliant actor and stuntman and the former president of the New York chapter of Hells Angels.
A bodyguard to the president of Ukraine, Mykola Melnychenko, is a synonym for honor. When he discovered that the Ukrainian president was involved in a murder, he allegedly recorded compromising information, releasing it to the journalists soon afterward. Although some dispute this chain of events, let’s give Melnychenko the benefit of the doubt.
Member of the Royal Protection Squad and bodyguard to Diana, Princess of Wales, Barry Albert Mannakee was one of the most famous yet controversial bodyguards. He apparently had an affair with his protectee and was removed from his post soon after they were discovered. He died in a road traffic accident in 1987, which created a conspiracy theory about him not dying by accident.
All these bodyguards did have some fraction of the skills necessary for creating the perfect industry professional. However, some lacked technical skills, while others weren’t too competent in using firearms.
So, who does our Best Armed Bodyguard Award go to in this article? The answer might surprise you.
The best armed bodyguard is only an idea. He or she doesn’t exist in the real world, i.e., they don’t live in downtown New York City, London, or Munich. They are an ideal that any armed or unarmed bodyguard and executive protection agent should strive for.
We didn’t mean to get all philosophical on you, but we couldn’t resist the temptation. If you’ve been a member of the industry for decades or are just launching your career now, make sure to follow these guidelines:
- Practice what you preach,
- Know your stuff, both soft and hard skills,
- Recognize that being the best doesn’t mean showing off your USD 36,000 Rolex or rubbing off on your principal’s success.
To keep on reading about the fuzz surrounding armed bodyguards and their protectees, here are our top three suggestions on EP Wired: