You would think that pro athletes would, above all others, be secure in their manliness and have nothing left to prove.
But a select few decided to take it a step further. And then another step, and another, until they were in a full out sprint towards the ninth level of hell to punch the Devil in the throat and steal his bike.
5Jack Johnson: Boxer, Bull Fighter, Pimp
Jack Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion, but also paved the road for future athletes in the ways of trash talking, flashy bling and openly banging white women in an era when that could get you lynched. The man was everything Muhammad Ali would be...
...except he was doing it at the turn of the century. We weren't kidding about the lynching thing--this was 39 years before Jackie Robinson and just a generation removed from his father being born a slave.
After he became champion, the media openly pined for a "Great White Hope" to come forward and beat him, and set the racial hierarchy back to its natural order. Former undefeated champion James J. Jeffries came out of retirement to fight Johnson, satisfying both the white masses and fans of alliteration.
Jack Johnson v. Jim J. Jeffries: Jaws will be justifiably jostled!
In the ensuing "Fight of the Century," Johnson forced Jeffries corner to throw in the towel in the 15th round to avoid a complete knockout and post-fight cuckold session (as was the custom of the time).
Outside of the ring, Johnson's hobbies included racing flashy sports cars, traveling the world and generally making the Dos Equis guy look boring. He rocked gold teeth and a gold handled pimp cane while sipping champagne and taking his pet leopard for walks.
Pretty much this, but with bigger balls.
He spent time as a jazz musician, Chicago nightclub owner, stage actor, dock worker, coral fisher, bullfighter, volunteer secret agent in World War I for the U.S. Government (and possibly also for the Kaiser) and as a beer salesman. He was a legendary eater and drinker (and spent a night in Russia downing vodka shot-for-shot with Rasputin) and had the onions to deliver a speech on sportsmanship, fair play and the golden rule to the motherfucking KKK.
It should be noted that nothing in the previous paragraph was a joke. All that shit really happened. He was a goddamned bull fighter, people!
All he had to do to beat the bull was to time the jab right.
Johnson's wang had an equally impressive life. Among those Johnson was romantically linked to were Moulin Rouge star Mistinguette, German spy Mata Hari, sex symbols Lupe Velez and Mae West. Why are there not high schools named after this man?
Most Badass Act:
In a dick move worthy of the bearded EPA guy from Ghostbusters, authorities convicted Johnson of violating the Mann Act by "transporting women across state lines for immoral purposes" in 1913--despite the fact that the incidents in question took place before the Mann Act was passed, the woman in question was his future wife and he was goddamn Jack Johnson.
Fuck, he's awesome.
While in prison, he eschewed the non-macho act of forced sodomy for the very macho acts of smoking cigars, drinking and even inventing and patenting a new type of wrench. Think about that the next time you're putting together your fruity little IKEA bookshelf. The wrench in your hand may very well have been invented by Jack Johnson ... in prison. How about you fill that shelf with some books about how to grow a pair, Nancy?
4John Brisker: the ABA's All-Time Leader in Crazy
Playing in the ABA in the 70s with its hard-partying, quick to throw a punch, funktastic atmosphere is a good way to get your foot in the door in terms of cool. But to move beyond cool into badass, one would have to go above and beyond. That brings us to John Brisker.
What does John Brisker in a sombrero and pistols have to do with Pittsburgh or Condors?
Even in a league filled with cocaine-fueled fist fights, Brisker's transgressions stood out, so much so that the head coach of the Dallas Chapparalls put up $500 as a bounty on Brisker.
It wasn't just opposing teams that fell victim to Brisker's madness. The man was such a lunatic that his own team had to hire some muscle in an attempt to control him. During practices, coach Dick Tinkham (great name) brought in an ex-football player whose sole job was to flatten Brisker the first time he got out of line. When Brisker proved to be too tough, the football player declared that he was going to the locker room to get his gun. Brisker was fine with that, since that gave him time to go to his locker and get his gun. Tinkham decided to cancel practice for the day.
How do such large testicles fit in such unsettlingly short shorts?
Being the top authority figure of the ABA did not make you immune to Brisker's wrath either. In 1971, immediately after the All-Star game, Brisker walked up to league commissioner Jack Dolph and demanded his All-Star bonus right then and there. Figuring an intact clavicle was worth the $300, Dolph paid Brisker cash out of his own wallet. Can you imagine Ron Artest trying to publicly shake down David Stern today? Cool, now imagine Kobe Bryant playing in the ABA and being punched right in the face by John Brisker because, fuck Kobe Bryant.
This fucking guy...
Most Badass Act:
Straight up fucking vanishing. In 1978, Brisker went to Uganda, either as a mercenary, guest of Idi Amin, or both. After April of that year, he was never heard from again. Speculation is that he was executed by a firing squad, quite possibly the most manly of all deaths this side of death by excessive pussy getting. Another theory (ours) is that he survived the firing squad, took on an alias and adapted his diaries into the screenplay for Shaft in Africa.