We were having a discussion here at Predator HQ about who we thought was the ‘hardest’ or ‘toughest’ man that has ever lived. We restricted ourselves to only real people, and not film or TV characters so Superman doesn’t count! It was not easy to pick out a top 10, but we managed it and here are our choices.
Well known former professional boxer Muhammad Ali (Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr) inspired millions not only through his athletic prowess, but also through his fearlessness when facing adversity. Three years after Ali became World Heavyweight Champion, he publicly refused to be conscripted into the U.S. military due to his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War.
Ali’s example inspired Martin Luther King Jr to voice his own opinion against the war. During his boxing career Ali was nick-named ‘The Greatest’ and contributed to a number of historic matches including 3 with Joe Frazier – which are often considered the greatest matches of all time. Known for his authentic style, Ali was known to ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’, and for his pre-match ‘trash talk’ where he would often use rhyme.
He really was a true sporting legend. Ali was well known for taking a punch, and was thought by many to have the greatest chin of all time.
This guy is a physician who performed surgery on himself! Rogozov was a very promising surgeon, and about to complete his dissertation, then one day he decided to jack it in and join sixth Soviet Antarctic expedition doing triple-duty as the expedition's doctor, assistant meteorologist and heavy-vehicle operator. Rogozov spent thirty-six days at sea, withstanding wind chills of -140 degrees Fahrenheit. While he was out there, he developed peritonitis and made the decision to make a 5-inch incision across his abdomen and remove his own appendix! He couldn't see what he was doing, so he operated by feeling alone…. Unbelievably, Rogozov was back to work within a fortnight and remained out there for another full year!
Leonidas was a hero-king of Sparta who possessed huge amounts of strength and bravery, and became known for his leadership at the Battle of Thermopylae. Leonidas lead an army of just 300 Spartans (to be joined by a number of other Greeks) to face a Persian force of up to 200,000. The Persians waited 4 days before attacking, assuming that the Greeks would retreat. On the Fifth day the Persians attacked, and Leonidas and his men fought them off for 2 days, killing 20,000 of their men. An amazing feat! On the 7th day Leonidas and his men were betrayed, by Ephialtes, who led the Persians along a mountain path to the rear of the Greek forces. At this point Leonidas sent away all Greek troops and held his position with his 300 Spartans. Attacked from all sides, Leonidas and the 300 were all killed. Leonidas was the hero-king who led his men from the front.
Known as the ‘father of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu’, Maeda developed a style of fighting that combined a range of techniques he'd learned while fighting anyone who challenged him in arenas of Japan, North, Central, and South America, Great Britain, Belgium, Spain, and the islands of the Caribbean, most notably Cuba.
He combined a number of disciplines including sumo, judo, jiu-jitsu, "catch-as-catch-can", Greco-Roman, boxing, luta livre, karate, and other forms of free fighting lumped in with inventions of his own. Maeda won more than 2,000 professional fights in his career.
Maeda’s achievements led to him being called the ‘toughest man who ever lived’.
Sir Isaac Newton
Surprise you? Well, here is another example of man who had the balls to operate on himself. One time, Newton forced a needle into his own eye socket and pressed on the back of the eyeball in order to change its shape - all in the name of science of course!
Check out his sketched-out plan for this self-experiment;
Bruce Lee is known to be the most influential martial artist of all time, founding the Jeet Kune Do martial arts movement. He was renowned for his immense level of physical fitness and his determination to become as fit & strong as he possible could. Lee would skip (jump rope) for up to 800 jumps… AFTER cycling! He would also toughen the skin on his fists by thrusting his hands into buckets of harsh rocks and gravel – over 500 times a day! Here are a few reports of his physical feats;
Demonstrating his speed he snatched a dime off a person's open palm before they could close it, and left a penny behind.
•He could do one-hand push-ups using only the thumb and index finger.
•He could do 50 one-arm chin-ups
•He could make a 136.08kg bag swing and thump the ceiling with a sidekick.
•He held a V-sit position for over 30 minutes.
Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes is a British adventurer who holds a number of records. He also served in the army. He was the first person to visit both the north and south poles by surface means and the first to cross Antarctica on foot – that alone makes him one of the toughest guys ever.
He cemented his reputation as ultimate hard man when he suffered severe frostbite, and instead of adhering to doctor’s recommendation of waiting several months before amputation he decided to cut the frostbitten fingers off with a fretsaw. To add to his toughness, after suffering a heart attack and after undergoing a double heart bypass, he completed 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents in the land Rover 7x7x7 challenge.
Stroud, expedition partner of Ranulph Fiennes, is an expert in human endurance and extreme environments. He walked 2,000 km across Antarctica in -46 degrees Celsius temperatures against winds of up to 160km/h. Stroud was also the first person from Britain to complete the ‘marathon de sables’, a race that is equivalent to 5 marathons….. through the Sahara desert! During his polar expeditions Stroud decided to take muscle biopsies from his own leg….without anaesthetic!
You may know this guy as the one who cut his arm off in the film 127 Hours. We simply had to put him in our top 10…. He cut off his own arm! It was April 2003 when Rahlston ventured out on his own, without telling anyone where he was going. He was hiking through Blue John Canyon, when a suspended boulder he was climbing down became dislodged and pinned/crushed his right hand and forearm against the canyon wall. He spent 5 days sipping his limited water supply (350ml) and attempting to remove his arm in a number of ways. Nothing worked.
After the 3rd day of trying, he made the decision to amputate his arm, but he didn’t have the tools to cut through his bone. He ran out of water on the 5th day, and videotaped his last goodbye to his family. On the dawn of the following day, he woke up and had an idea – he could break his forearm using torque against his trapped arm. He managed to do this, then he amputated his arm with his ‘multi-tool’, from which he used a dull two-inch knife. It took him one hour! Rahlston continues to be a prolific climber to this day!
They don’t come much tougher than this guy! Lawrence Patrick was basically a human crash test dummy. He was dedicated to discovering exactly what the human body could withstand, and all in the name of car safety. Patrick took hits in the chest from a 10kg weight to test his rib-cage, he rode on a rocket sled over 400 times to assess the effect of deceleration of the body, and he had deadweights dropped on his cheeks to investigate fracture mechanisms.
So that's our selection? Agree with our list? Is there anyone you think we've missed out? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!