5 Heartwarming Accomplishments by Hardened Prison Inmates
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
Winning Gold Medals in an International Choir Contest
When it comes to extracurricular activities in the big house, the pickings are mighty slim. While some would argue that giving the inmates something productive to fill their time would help lower the risk of repeat violence, a popular counterargument is "Criminals? Fuck 'em."
"What's this under the sink? Is this a book? Oh, this won't do."
So when Warren Correctional Institution started Umoja, a gospel choir for inmates, the general population was elated ... until they realized the sheer volume of incredible beatings being in the prison choir would likely net them. Still, some brave souls joined, and Umoja proved so successful that they were invited to the World Choir Games.
Unfortunately, due to the whole "convicted of heinous crimes against their fellow man" thing, Umoja was unable to attend the competition in Cincinnati. But organizers were so impressed by the convicts' dedication that they decided to make an exception and sent a team of judges to hear them perform.
It should come as no surprise that being incarcerated for half of your life can turn you into one soulful cat, but how did they stack up against professional singers and choirs from around the globe?
Gladys and the Shady Grove Retirement Home Chorus don't play.
They shivved those other choirs' punk asses, prison style, that's how. Umoja won gold medals in both the gospel and the spiritual category, beating out teams from nearly 50 countries. On top of this, the group has also released three CDs of their music, donating most of the profits to charity, because seriously -- like the prison is going to let them keep it.
Laying the Foundations for a Global Corporation
Despite having perhaps the most mockable name of the 18th century, Werner von Siemens founded the respected and successful (and Nazi-sympathizing) global corporation Siemens AG. But he didn't grow his company from a basement laboratory into a bustling multinational electronics powerhouse overnight. Wiener von Siemens made many sacrifices: He sacrificed his time, his money, his hard work, and even his freedom for his success. Werner von Semen made most of his start-up capital during his time in prison, which he served for participating in an illegal duel.
"Did you fill out the form at the Murder Licensing Office? Is this duel even legal?"
After being arrested in 1841 for standing in as a second in a murder competition, Wiener von Semen was sent to the Magdeburg citadel to serve his time. 1841 was a simpler age, when men were men and attempted murder was just not that big of a deal. So while serving his brief sentence, Wang von Semen was allowed to bring a small laboratory with him into his cell, presumably after pinky swearing not to blow up any guards or start a toilet meth lab. For the next year, he worked tirelessly on various experiments and inventions, until he was eventually pardoned in 1842. But by that time, Siemens had become so used to his prison setup, he actually declined the early release and continued his work behind bars.
Almost two years into his sentence, Dong von Jizz perfected a new technique that radically improved the process of metal galvanization. His brother patented the process in London, and the money they made off of it would become the backbone for Siemens' other projects, funding the rest of his prosperous life of invention (and presumably seeking vicious revenge against everybody who made terrible, juvenile dick jokes about his name).
Yup, this is a Werner von Siemens bust. Totally a bust with Siemens (written) on it. Just stating the facts.
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For more accomplishments from odd places, check out 5 Whores Who Changed The Course of History and 5 Nuns Who Could Kick Your Ass.
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