People are capable of some pretty amazing stuff, from beautiful works of art to the space shuttle to a device in your pocket that pulls pornography from the very ether. Unfortunately, we're also capable of some pretty terrible stuff, like robbery and murder and Bono. But sometimes, much like love and marriage, you just can't have astounding accomplishments without terrible crimes. Come, let us dip some criminal chocolate into the peanut butter of human endeavor and explore the most amazing feats accomplished by hardened prison inmates.
#5. Playing Professional Soccer
Maxim Molokoedov was caught trying to smuggle 6 kilograms of cocaine out of Chile by hiding it in hollowed-out children's books. That's not just crime; that crosses a philosophical line into cartoon villainy. We're pretty sure Cobra Commander tried the same thing with Snake Gas. Luckily, he was apprehended (we're referring to Molokoedov, although we're pretty sure the Joes nabbed ol' CC too) and sentenced to three years in a Chilean prison.
Remember, kids: Always check your books for Snake Gas and/or Chilean blow. Knowing is half the battle.
During his exercise time in the yard, Molokoedov gained quite a following when the other prisoners discovered that he was a much more talented athlete than he was a Hardy Boys antagonist. Other inmates even began trading amenities like deodorant, soap, and get-out-of-sodomy-free cards for a few paltry minutes of soccer training from Molokoedov. When word of his skills reached former Chilean national team player Franklin Lobos, he took a trip to the Santiago Penitentiary to see what all the hubbub was about. Lobos was so impressed with Molokoedov that he recommended him to the coach of the Santiago Morning, a Chilean professional team.
Maxim Molokoedov/Santiago Times
"Next to smuggling cocaine, soccer is my greatest passion."
Unlike most uptight nations, Chile didn't let a petty thing like being in the middle of a prison sentence stop the promising career of a young athlete. Accompanied by armed guards, Molokoedov played for the Morning during each of their home games -- he wasn't allowed at away games. Prison officials probably didn't want "plane tickets and fancy hotel rooms for drug smugglers" showing up on taxpayers' invoice. Molokoedov even passed up an opportunity to return to his native Russia, opting to stay in prison for another year just to keep playing for his beloved team. Either that man is the very definition of sportsmanship, or freedom in Russia is way worse than prison in Chile.
#4. Fighting Wildfires
Even with Smokey the Bear constantly up society's collective ass about the importance of not starting wildfires, every year, without fail, some jackass starts lighting firecrackers in a field and accidentally burns half the world down. Fortunately, there are numerous lines of defense between our fleshy meatsacks and a burning demise, like aircraft water drops, prescribed burns, and let's not forget those helpful convicted felons.
"Never mind why I'm in here. I swear, mention that orphanage again and you can put out your own wildfires."
Normally, we call "a group of hardened criminals with axes wandering the woods" a slasher movie, but California's Wildland Firefighting Initiative has some different ideas. The initiative provides inmates with a full wildfire-management training program, teaching them firefighting tactics and safety practices before sending them into the heart of a wildfire to dig fire lines, move supplies, and generally help keep the entire Western seaboard from turning into a smoking crater.
Robert Van Beets/Photos.com
Fun fact: "Fire Danger" signs can double as "Holy Shit, Felons With Axes Danger" signs.
And we're not talking about a handful of teams spread out across the country: A huge portion of the manpower used to fight America's fires comes from prisoners. In fact, some of the higher-ups who organize and manage the firefighting efforts are starting to worry because there just aren't enough criminals safeguarding our nation's forests right now. So there you go, folks: Only you can prevent forest fires ... by robbing a Circle K.
#3. Accruing the Largest Collection of Four-Leaf Clovers in the World
The only two things a prisoner has plenty of is time and regret. No inmate is sighing wistfully at a sunset and bemoaning how "there aren't enough hours in a day." Some convicts use this time to learn a trade, others start an education, and still others just mercilessly beat off like they caught their wang snitchin'. Then there's George Kaminski, who decided that as long as he was there, he might as well spend his 25-year sentence obsessively combing the yard for mutant plants. Kaminski held the Guinness World Record for collecting a staggering 72,927 four-leaf clovers.
This George Kaminski must be the luckiest man on the planet! Oh ... right.
After he was put away on a kidnapping charge in 1995, Kaminski spent every minute of his "free" time in various Pennsylvania prisons kidnapping shamrocks instead. That's 11 clovers a day, every day, for 18 years. And seeing as clovers don't generally grow in the concrete confines of a cell, Kaminski had to collect them all in the one or two hours he was allowed in the yard each day.
Finding plants of any kind in most prison yards is no small feat.
Kaminski's reasoning behind the collection? He wanted to show a younger inmate that life inside prison isn't the end of the world, and even behind bars, you can do anything you put your mind to. Apparently the only crime Kaminski was truly guilty of ... was hope.
Oh, right, and also kidnapping. He definitely did that, too.