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24 Badass Facts about People You Probably Never Heard Of

As they say, a person’s true nature is revealed when they are pushed into a tight corner. Most of the times, more than bravery and strength, it is being able to stay clear headed and choose the right action despite everything that saves them. Conversely, sometimes it is the sheer force of will and determination that lets them survive the ordeal. The history has many such stories about people who were so remarkable that we could only marvel and be astonished at what they could achieve in deadly situations. And here are a few such badass facts about people that we collected that you probably haven’t come across yet.

1. Miyamoto Musashi, the 17th-century Japanese swordsman, twice arrived late to duels and defeated both opponents. For his next duel, he arrived early and ambushed the force that was assembling to ambush him.

After the war between Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans in 1600, Musashi, a 17-year-old teenager, disappeared from records until he began a series of duels against Yoshioka School when he reached 20 or 21. There, in 1604, he challenged the master of the school Yoshioka Seijuro for a single blow duel winning by striking the master’s arm, which crippled him. Seijuro then passed the headship of the school to his brother Yoshioka Denshichiro who then challenged Musashi, but was defeated, leaving a 12-year-old Yoshioka Matashichiro as the head. The whole matter enraged the Yoshioka family who assembled archers, musketeers, and swordsmen and challenged Musashi to duel outside Kyoto. This time, Musashi broke his habit of being late and hid, and then assaulted the force and killed Matashichiro, thus he ended that branch of Yoshioka School. (source)

2. Medal of Honor recipient, Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez fought for 6 hours straight and had 37 puncture wounds, exposed intestine, broken jaw, and eyes caked in blood. He was pronounced dead until he spat in the face of a doctor who was zipping him up in a body bag.

In 1965, Benavidez stepped on a land mine in South Vietnam and was evacuated to the United States where the doctors told him he would never be able to walk again. But, he then started propping himself up a wall and after several months of excruciating practice at walking, he started to walk. Even with continuing pain, he went back to Vietnam, where on May 2, 1968, after hearing radio for help from a 12-man Special Forces patrol was surrounded by a battalion of about a 1,000 men, Benavidez, armed with just a knife and a medical bag, jumped from the helicopter to help them. His daring fight saved at least 8 men, but he himself was thought to be dead until a friend recognized him and called for a doctor. The doctor thought he was dead too until Benavidez managed to spit in the doctor’s face when about to zip the body bag. (source)

3. Harald Hadrada, a Viking who fled from his native country, Norway, to Russia, went on to become an elite guardsman in Eastern Roman Empire and fought in Iraq. He then went back to Russia to marry a princess and arrived back in Norway as a king, and finally invaded England with his army.

When Harad was 15, he and his half-brother Olaf fought in the Battle of Stiklestad to reclaim the Norwegian throne which was lost to the Danish king, Cnut the Great, two years ago. However, they lost the war and were forced into exile for 15 years in Kievan Rus’. During that time Harald became a mercenary and a military commander in Kievan Rus’ and of the Varangian Guard in the Byzantine Empire.

In 1042 he returned from Byzantine and started his campaign to reclaim Norwegian throne. He became an ally to Sweyn II of Denmark, the nephew of the king of Denmark, with whom he became the co-ruler of Norway and the sole ruler a year later after Sweyn’s death. Harald claimed the throne of Denmark untıl 1064 and the English throne in 1066 unsuccessfully. His death in the Battle of Stamford Bridge for the English throne is considered the end of the Viking Age and he was thought to be the last great Viking or Viking king. (source)

4. When he was wounded, Thomas Baker ordered his squad to leave him propped against a tree, with a pistol and eight bullets. Later, American forces found the now-deceased Baker in the same spot, holding an empty pistol, with eight dead Japanese soldiers lying around him.
During the Second World War, between June 19 and July 7, 1944, Thomas Baker was cited to show exceptional bravery by voluntarily running with a bazooka within 100 yards of the enemy when his entire company was surrounded even though there was fire aimed at him. On July 7, Baker was seriously wounded when the perimeter he was part of was surrounded on three sides by as many as 3,000 to 5,000 Japanese soldiers. Instead of being carried to safety, he asked his comrades to be left sitting against a tree with a pistol with 8 rounds, where he was later found dead with 8 Japanese soldiers. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.  (source)

5. In 2001, 8-year-old Jessie Arbogast was attacked by a 7-foot-long bull shark that tore off his arm. When his uncle heard the commotion  and grabbed the shark out of the ocean and onto shore when the shark still held the child’s dismembered arm. Fortunately, surgeons later reattached the boy’s arm.

Jessie Arbogast was visiting the shore of Pensacola, Florida, with his uncle Vance Flosenzier in 2001 when the incident happened. The first thing Flosenzier did when he understood what was happening was to grapple the shark out of the ocean to wrestle and get his nephew’s arm back. Then, the surgeons were able to successfully reattach the boy’s dismembered arm. (source)

6. A French woman, Jeanne de Clisson, became a pirate in the 1300’s for revenge after her husband was beheaded. She sold her lands and bought 3 ships, which were painted black. When she caught nobles while hunting French ships, she personally beheaded them with an axe.

The whole thing started when the French authorities with whom Olivier, Jeanne de Clisson’s husband, once fought defending Brittany from the English began to suspect his loyalty. He was then captured and tried for treason by the orders of King Philip VI, who took advice from Charles de Blois, a man who fought along with Olivier. He was beheaded at Les Halles and his head was sent to Nantes to be displayed on a pole outside the castle of Bouffay.
Enraged and bewildered over her husband’s execution, Jeanne fought as a pirate for thirteen years killing and fighting against French on the seas, even after the death of King Philp VI. Her ruthlessness earned her the title “The Lioness of Brittany”. Later, Jeanne fell in love with an English nobleman, married him and settled down for a quiet life. (source)

7. In 1961 a Russian doctor had to remove his own appendix after it burst because he was the only doctor stationed in a remote soviet research station in Antarctica and luckily he survived

When the 27-year-old doctor, Leonid Rogozov, was stationed in the frontier conditions of newly founded Antarctic colony, he began to feel ill with sever pain and classic symptoms of appendicitis. He knew the only way to survive was to operate on himself as there was no transportation because of snowstorms and he was the only doctor on the base. So, he chose a few men to assist him while he operated on himself calmly and focusedly. He rested in every five minutes for a few seconds to recover from weakness and vertigo. It took him an hour and 45 minutes to complete the operation and he had to work by looking at the reversed image in a mirror. He recovered within two weeks and was back on regular duty.(source)

8. Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen formed a chisel out of his own frozen feces to free himself from an avalanche. He then amputated his own frozen toes with a hammer… without anesthesia.

Peter Freuchen was once sheltering in a snowbank during a storm and later found that he was encased in a coffin-sized tomb of ice and snow that had immobilized him at the spot. He spent hours struggling to get out, trying to claw at the ice with his bare hands and with his frozen bearskin. Even much of his beard was torn because it was frozen to the runners of his sled. He almost gave up, but later recovered his strength and encouraged himself. He then remembered the way dog’s dung would freeze and turn rock solid.
So, he experimented with his own excrement and fashioned it into a chisel. He then patiently dug himself out without breaking the chisel. When he got back to the camp, he found that his feet were frostbitten and gangrene had set in one foot. Being a teetotaler, Freuchen amputated his own toes with pincers and a hammer without any drink to ease the pain. (source)
9. Charles Rigoulot, a French weightlifter, was jailed for hitting a Nazi guard, but broke out of his jail cell by bending the bars. He allowed other prisoners to escape as well.
Charles Jean Rigoulot was a French weightlifter, professional wrestler, racing driver, and actor. He won the gold medal for weightlifting in 1924 Summer Olympics and set ten world records between 1923 and 1926. In 1932, he became and worked as a professional strongman in circus and as a wrestler who was billed “the strongest man in the world”. During the World War II, he was imprisoned for hitting a Nazi officer and escaped from the prison by bending the doors allowing himself and even other prisoners to escape. (source)

10. In 1907 a Mexican railroad brakeman named Jesús García saved the entire town of Nacozari, Sonora by single-handedly driving a damaged and burning train containing dynamite six kilometers away from the town before it finally exploded and killed him.

Jesús García was the railroad breakman for the track between Nacozari, Sonora, and Douglas, Arizona. On November 7, 1907, one of the train’s firebox started to fail and sparks that were coming out of the train’s chimney were being blown by the wind towards the car containing dynamite. García saw that the hay covering the roof of the car caught fire and the wind blew them into the dynamites. Therefore, he immediately drove the train in reverse downhill at full-steam six kilometers out of the town before it exploded  and thus he saved the mining town population. He died in the explosion and the town was renamed to Nacozari de García. (source)

11. A man named Joseph Bolitho Johns broke out of Australian prisons so many times that the police were compelled to build a special cell just for him. He escaped from that cell as well.

Joseph Bolitho Johns, also known as Moondyne Joe, was arrested several times during the mid 19th century. In 1848, he was arrested for stealing three loaves of bread, one piece of bacon, several cheeses and “other goods” from a house. He and his partner were charged with burglary, but said they didn’t commit the crime. However, they were convicted and sent to jail for ten years. It was said that Johns’ lack of court etiquette made the judge angry, who gave sentences of three weeks to three months for similar crimes in the same day before John’s case.
Johns was arrested and sent to prison several times until he was 55. His life and escapes have stirred so much interest among the townspeople of Toodyay that they celebrate every first Sunday of May as Moondyne Festival with street theater, markets, and performances. (source)
12. Dr Barry Marshall was convinced that H. pylori bacteria caused stomach ulcers, but no one believed him. Since it was illegal to test his theory on humans, he drank the bacteria himself, developed ulcers within days, treated them with antibiotics and went on to win a Nobel Prize

Barry Marshall, who was working as the Registrar of Medicine at the Royal Perth Hospital, along with Robin Warren studied the presence of spiral bacteria in association with gastritis. They hypothesized that H. pylori was related to bacterial cause of peptic ulcer and gastric cancer. But their theory was not well received among the established scientists who did not believe that any bacteria could survive in an acidic environment.
Convinced that he was right Marshall drank a Petri dish containing H. pylori expecting to develop symptoms years later, he was surprised when only after three days he developed nausea and halitosis, and in 5 to 8 days vomiting without hydrochloric acid. After running more tests, Marshall began taking antibiotics which made him better. Then, this finding of him enabled him to win Nobel Prize. (source)

13. The most successful pirate in history was a Chinese prostitute. Cheng I Sao commanded 80,000 sailors and a fleet bigger than most of the country’s navies, which was why the government had to give up and offer her a truce. She retired with her loot and opened a gambling house before passing away peacefully.

Cheng, a Chinese pirate, married a prostitute in 1801. She married him on the condition that she would share equally in his power and would be given the opportunity to amass more wealth for him. They worked together for six years and when Cheng passed away, Cheng I Sao took up the reigns, and knowing the pirate masses won’t follow the command of a woman, she appointed her husband’s second-in-command, Chang Pao, as official captain of the fleet.
Cheng I Sao was responsible for business and military strategy, established a pirate code, and governed the growing body of pirates as she increased their numbers. She repelled every attack from the Chinese navy, until they changed tactics and offered a universal amnesty for pirates in exchange for peace. (source).
14. There was a Mongolian princess, Khutulun, who insisted that any man who wished to marry her must defeat her in wrestling and surrender their horses if they lost. She won 10,000 horses by defeating prospective suitors. 
Born in 1260, Khutulun was the daughter of the most powerful ruler of Central Asia, Kaidu. She assisted her father in many battles, especially against the Yuan Dynasty of her cousin, Great Khan. Of all Kaidu’s children, Khutulun was his favorite and he would seek her advice and political support, and tried to name her as the successor to the khanate before he died. However, it was declined by her brothers and male relatives who often challenged her. Even Marco Polo described her as a superb warrior who would ride into the enemy ranks and snatch a captive like a hawk would catch a chicken. (source)
15. In 1823, the American fur trapper Hugh Glass was attacked by a grisly bear which he killed by stabbing repeatedly with his knife 200 miles from nearest settlement. He treated his wounds by letting maggots eat infected flesh to prevent gangrene, set his broken leg, crawled to a river to make a raft so that he could float downstream and reach Fort Kiowa. The whole journey took him 6 weeks.

While scouting for game, Glass surprised and disturbed a grizzly bear with two cubs and was immediately attacked by it. He was badly mauled and received severe wounds, but was able to kill it with the help of his trapping partners. When Glass lost his conscious, his partners agreed that two of them were to stay there until he died and to bury him. But, when they were attacked by a tribe, the two fled leaving Glass without any weapons or equipment. When he woke up, he found himself abandoned with festering wounds, deep cuts on his back that exposed his ribs. In spite of everything that happened, he persisted and was able to make it to the nearest settlement. (source)
16. In 1933, five acquaintances of a homeless alcoholic, Michael Malloy, plotted to take three life insurance policies on him and then get him to drink himself to death. When it did not kill him, they substituted antifreeze for liquor, then turpentine, horse liniment, and finally mixed rat poison in the alcohol. Then, they tried poisoned oysters and sardines, and none of which killed him. After several more attempts, the gang finally succeeded by putting a hose in his mouth and releasing gas jet.

And that wasn’t all that he survived. When they understood it was not likely that anything Malloy ingested was going to kill him, the five conspirators, who later came to be called the Murder Trust, decided to freeze him to death. After Malloy drank until he passed out on a night that reached -140F  temperature, they carried him to a park, and poured five gallons of water on his bare chest. The next day he came back for his drink.
They next hit him with a taxi travelling at 45 miles per hour, which just broke his bones and he was out of hospital soon. When he again appeared in the bar, they made their last attempt which succeeded. However, the rumors soon floated about it to the police who promptly exhumed and forensically examined the body. The five were found guilty with four of them executed on electric chair. (source)

17. During the Vietnam War in 1968, a US Army Captain, Hugh Thompson, noticed a large number of dead bodies of unarmed villagers, including children. He flew in his helicopter between the soldiers firing and civilians in order to stop the soldiers from killing further. He made a report of the killings after the massacre. But, he was criticized by congressmen and many Americans for this, and received many death threats and dead animals on his porch due to his testimony against US soldiers. 

The My Lai massacre was considered “the most shocking episode of the Vietnam War”. Hugh Thompson’s intervention was denounced by several US Congressmen and he and two other servicemen who tried to halt the massacre were called traitors . The exposing of the massacre contributed to the domestic opposition of the involvement US in Vietnam War. The efforts of Thompson and the two other men were only recognized and decorated after thirty years, one posthumously, by the US Army for shielding civilians from war-zone.(12)

18. During the final manned mission to Mercury, the automatically controlled spacecraft Faith 7 had power failure forcing astronaut Gordon Cooper to take manual control. He used his knowledge of stars and his wristwatch, eyeballed the attitude with lines drawn on his window, and landed just 4 miles from his recovery ship in Pacific Ocean.

All Mercury flights were designed to be fully automatic, including Flight 7, which was piloted by Gordon Cooper. The automation was considered a controversial engineering decision, which in mostly reduced the role of astronaut to a mere passenger. Because of it, these flights were called “spam in the can” by Chuck Yeager, a well-known test pilot who was the first to break speed of sound in flight. Towards the end of the mission, Flight 7 developed technical problems and had power failure. However, the mission was saved by Cooper’s expert piloting.(12)
19. Ernest Hemingway survived, anthrax, pneumonia, dysentery, diabetes, high blood pressure, two successive plane crashes that resulted in ruptured kidney and liver, broken skull, second degree burns, and numerous other accidents. 

The American writer, journalist and Nobel laureate, Ernest Hemingway, went on a safari to Africa after the publication of his book The Old Man and the Sea. There he went on a sightseeing flight as a Christmas present to his wife, Mary. The plane struck an abandoned pole and landed injuring both him and his wife. The next day the plane they boarded to reach medical help at Entebbe exploded at take-off causing further serious injuries. When they finally reached Entebbe, the reporters were covering Hemingway’s death, with some newspapers even publishing his obituary. While recuperating, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, though he suspected the obituaries might have influenced the selection of winner. (source)

20. A sniper known as Simo Häyhä killed 505 soldiers during the Winter war without telescopic sight in temperatures between  -400 C (-400 F) and -200 C (-40 F). He had half his face blown off by an explosive bullet, but he survived and went on to live until 96.

Simo Häyhä joined the Finnish militia when he was 20 and soon became an expert at marksmanship. Häyhä served as a sniper against the Red Army during the Winter War that was fought between Finland and Soviet Union. Due to Stalin’s Great Purge, there was a lot of chaos in the Soviet Union and the Soviet troops were not issued white camouflage suits making them easily visible to snipers. Häyhä has been credited with 505 kills and holds the highest number of confirmed kills in any major war. In an effort by the Soviets to make a counter-attack at the snipers, he was hit by an explosive bullet by a Red Army soldier which blew his left cheek. (source)

21. In 1956, Thomas Fitzpatrick stole a plane and flew it from New Jersey to New York City neatly landing it in front of the bar as part of a drunk bet. He stole another plane again in 1958 landing it in front of a university building because someone didn’t believe he really did it the last time. 

Thomas Fitzpatrick, also known as Tommy Fitz, was a Marine during Korean War and an American pilot. His intoxicated bet about stealing a plane from Teterboro School of Aeronautics, New Jersey, happened on September 30, 1956 at 3.00 AM and the flight to New York City took 15 minutes. His next adventure, was on October 4, 1958 just before 1.00 AM from the same airfield to a private university. (source)

22. In 1983, a 61-year-old potato farmer ran an ultramarathon from Sydney to Melbourne and won the race by ten hours because he ran while the others slept, and broke the record for previous runs in that route by two days. 

The Australian potato farmer Cliff Young won the inaugural Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon which covered a distance of 875 kilometers. Young ran at a slow looping pace, just trailing the leading participants during the first day. But, he also ran while the others slept that night which put him in the lead and he maintained it throughout the race. He became so popular for his tortoise and hare technique that in the same year another race called Cliff Young Australian Six-Day Race was established and in 1984 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for long distance running. (source)

23. In January 2014, Molly Schuyler, a 125 lb woman, won Wing Bowl eating challenge by eating 363 chicken wings. The next day she won the IHOP Pancake Bowl contest, and the bacon-eating contest by eating 5 pounds of bacon in 3 minutes. The next year, she ate three 72-oz steak dinners in 20 minutes beating her own record and the restaurant’s.

Molly Schuyler has many food challenge victories to her name. In August 2012, she complete a food challenge at Stella’s Bar and Grill becoming the first woman to achieve the Stellanator. The same year, she also became the first woman to attempt Sinful Burger’s “Goliath” Challenge which included 5 pounds of varied items of food. Since then, she has been participating in many challenges and set a world record in 2015 by eating a four-pound sandwich and one pound of tater tots in 2 minutes and 55 seconds, and another world record for eating 5 pounds of bacon in 5 minutes and 2.1 seconds. (12)

24. James Harrison who underwent a major surgery at the age of 14 requiring 13 liters of blood pledged to donate when he turned 18. It was discovered that his blood contained unusually strong antibodies that could fight Rhesus disease. So far he has made a record 1,000 donations and helped saved over 2.4 million babies, including his daughter. 

Harrison started donating his blood in 1954 when, after a few donations it was discovered that his blood has strong and persistent antibodies against D Rh group antigen. His donations helped to save thousands of children from dying of hemolytic disease of the newborn. The unique property of his blood was considered to be so important that his life was insured for one million dollars. His donations and the following research helped create commercial Anti-D immunoglobulin, commonly known as RhoGAM, that can prevent hemolytic disease in newborns. (source)

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