7 Great People With the Most Unfortunate Names Possible
In a perfect world, no one would be held back by having a stupid name. But there's a reason actors change their names when they go to Hollywood (e.g., Tom Cruise's real last name is Mapother) -- we expect a cool guy to have an equally cool name. In real life, well, things don't always work out that way ...
South Africa's Donald Trump (and Possible Presidential Candidate) Is Named Tokyo Sexwale
In addition to having a name seemingly invented for the sole purpose of frightening pirates, Tokyo Sexwale happens to be one of the most impressive human beings to have ever lived. He was born in South Africa at the very height of Apartheid and joined a militant wing of the anti-Apartheid movement in the 1970s. He was soon chased into exile, where he joined the Soviet military and trained in military engineering, which we assume means that he can straight-up kill a motherfucker with a sheet of graph paper.
When his training was complete, he returned to his homeland to kick some racist assholes inside out, but he soon found himself in prison next to Nelson Mandela. That's not an exaggeration -- they were literally jail neighbors.
Not Pictured: Their wacky third neighbor, Kopano Kramer.
Upon his release at the end of Apartheid, Sexwale went into politics and is credited with bringing peace to several formerly violent areas of the beleaguered nation. Political goals achieved, he set his sights on the business world, soon making a fortune in diamonds and oil. He's like the South African version of Donald Trump, if Trump were much less of a ridiculous walking anus (Sexwale even starred in the South African version of The Apprentice). Over the years, his name has even been tossed around for the presidency. Once again, that name is Tokyo Sexwale.
To be fair, his name is actually pronounced "Seh-wah-le," but obviously that's not how you just read it. You read it like the name of the most terrifying sea monster in the history of creation. And while that may not be the correct way to pronounce Tokyo Sexwale's name, it is certainly the greatest way.
It's also the way that will keep you from ever seeing a whale spout again without giggling.
Harry Baals Was a Respected Indiana Mayor
Harry Baals served three terms as the mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, beginning his legendary run in 1934 and continuing well into the 1950s. He's one of the most respected mayors in the city's history, known for having opened the north end of the city for development, substantially reducing traffic by elevating the city's railroads, and literally cleaning up the city's shit by overseeing the construction of a sewage system that's still in use today. Baals is credited with putting Fort Wayne on the map, inasmuch as Fort Wayne can be considered to be "on the map." And in case you're wondering: yes, his name is pronounced like "hairy balls."
"Of course, I changed that for politics. Originally it was Richard Fuchs."
Veteran Fort Wayne newscaster Bob Chase recalled a time when a press release about the mayor popped up on his teleprompter. Bob pronounced the name "Harry Bales," presumably because it was the 1950s and the FCC would burst in and shoot you with a flamethrower if you said the phrase "hairy balls" on television. Seconds after he finished the show, Chase's phone rang. Baals himself was on the other end, and he said, "Son, this is your mayor, and I pronounce my name 'Balls.'" Truly, the man refused to be ashamed of his Baals.
The residents of Fort Wayne were proud of their Harry Baals too. He was so well-liked that there's even a street named after him. At least, there was a street named after him -- they had to change the name to H.W. Baals Drive because it got too expensive to replace all the "Harry Baals Drive" signs that people kept stealing. That is not a joke.
The anti-theft "No Jacking Baals" signs were in even higher demand.
It's become so bad that they've pretty much decided to quit naming stuff after him -- a proposition to christen a building in his honor was shot down, despite the fact that Baals received more votes than any of the other suggested names, because of course he did. And that's probably a good thing, because the urge to pack up and move to Fort Wayne just so that we could tell people that we work in the Harry Baals Government Center on Harry Baals Drive would have been impossible to resist.
One of the World's Top Olympic Skiers Is Named Fanny Chmelar ("Shmeller")
The stereotype of the ultra-competitive German is ... well, not really a stereotype. They're particularly good at winter sports, having won four of the last seven Winter Olympics. In 2014, Germany finished outside of the top three for the first time in 20 years. However, the 2014 games were held in Russia, and Germany historically doesn't perform well on Russian soil.
In an effort to combat the long-held suspicion that Germans have no sense of humor, one of their top female skiers recently retired in 2013 after doing her last run at the Alpine Skiing World Cup in a tutu. As further evidence of the German sense of humor, her parents, the Chmelars, decided to name her Fanny, and you guessed it, their last name is pronounced like "Shmeller." That's right -- one of Germany's best winter athletes might as well be named Assy Buttsniffer.
That posture sure isn't doing anything to help downplay the implication.
Still, in her 10-year professional skiing career, Chmelar kicked a lot of powdered ass. She won two Europa Cup events and finished in the top three in 10 others. Her professional career consisted of 89 races in the Alpine Skiing World Cup, and back in 2009 she came in second. In the world.
However, if this clip of U.K. game show host Bradley Walsh is any indication, the only thing the world will remember Chmelar for is her delightfully hilarious name:
There Is a Professional Long-Distance Runner Named Gaylord Silly
There are certain things that the human body is simply not meant to do. We are convinced that one of those things is long-distance running. The only reason human beings should run more than three miles in a single stretch is if they are being pursued by a relentless monster.
Gaylord Silly disagrees. Also, holy shit, there is a person on this planet named Gaylord Silly.
The distance running was a natural next step after a childhood spent fleeing
third-graders chanting his name.
Silly is a part-time athlete and full-time tree surgeon from the tiny archipelago Republic of Seychelles, who devotes his free time to professional long-distance running. He came in 162nd in the 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and placed 90th out of 94 athletes in the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. If we're being honest, that record is ... not that great.
That said, with a name like Gaylord Silly, it's impressive that he even made it through high school without changing his name to Fleximus Ironcock. And coming in 90th place in the world championship still makes him better at half marathons than a majority of the population of Earth. The closest we've come to competitive running is sprinting inside the AMC to get good seats for Guardians of the Galaxy.
He's also pretty savvy at deflecting jokes from people on Twitter, who apparently believe he has gone his entire life without anyone ever pointing out the fact that he is named Gaylord Silly:
Former Irish Deputy Prime Minister Dick Spring Was Also an International Rugby Player
Rugby is what you'd probably call "naked football" if the Google search results wouldn't obliterate any chance of that sport establishing a legitimate fan base. It's a stew of violence created by a bunch of dudes playing what is essentially American football without any protective gear and in very tiny shorts. And for Dick Spring, that stew was his job.
The fact that he lived up to his name with the perfect porn-stache was purely coincidence.
After playing Gaelic football and hurling (note for Americans: not a professional puking contest) throughout the '70s, Spring transitioned into a short and presumably painful pro rugby career in 1979. Ireland takes its rugby seriously, by the way -- at the time of this writing, they're ranked third in the world. An Irish pro rugby player is not someone you want to be fucking with, regardless of whether or not his name is Dick Spring. If his name is Dick Spring, then definitely don't make fun of him.
After his rugby career, Dick sprung into politics, eventually becoming the head of the Labour Party and serving three terms as tanaiste (the deputy prime minister, Ireland's second-most-powerful person). So, odds are if he can't headbutt you to death himself, he has at least a half-dozen shit-kicking Irishmen at his beck and call at any given moment that could make you disappear somewhere in the Irish Sea. His name is Dick Spring, though, so he has to expect a reasonable amount of stifled giggling.
There Is a Rugby World Cup Finalist Named Jean Condom
The Irish are fearsome rugby enthusiasts, but the French are some of the most badass competitors in the sport. They've reached the knockout stages of every Rugby World Cup, and they regularly place well in the Six Nations Championship. One top-level French player was the 6-foot-6, 243-pound Jean Condom, which sounds like something Bruce Springsteen would have worn in the 1980s. His hilariously appropriate position was lock, which means that among other things he was responsible for catching balls being thrown into play.
And when they got in a scrum they always used Condom when poking around in there.
The bulging Condom played rugby professionally for nearly two decades, taking the field for France in the 1987 World Cup series. Condom and the French team went undefeated until the final round, when they lost to New Zealand, which is a country that has genetically engineered a race of bionic rugby players, so there is no shame in suffering a loss to them.
The loss didn't break Condom. He played another 10 years before carefully peeling off his rugby jersey for good, making sure to keep the reservoir pinched.
The Top Ace in U.S. Air Force History Was Named Dick Bong
Dick Bong first came to the attention of his superiors in the United States Air Force after writing his name on his enlistment papers, at which point they presumably pulled him aside and told him to stop wasting their time with ridiculous pranks. Sometime after confirming that Dick Bong was, in fact, his actual name, in 1942 the Air Force shipped him off to Port Moresby, New Guinea, just as the U.S. was entering World War II. Almost immediately upon arriving in New Guinea, Bong shot down two Japanese planes. Within two weeks, he had shot down five, officially earning his ace status.
"Ask not for whom the Bong bongs. It bongs for thee."
And that was only the beginning of Dick Bong's dick bonging. He shot down enemy plane after enemy plane as if it were his job or something, presumably flying with his knees every once in a while just to provide himself some semblance of a challenge. He eventually reached a mind-boggling total of 40 wins, shattering the previous record of 26 from the first World War. See, he wasn't just an ace -- he was the all-time Ace of Aces. And his name was Dick fucking Bong.
Eric Yosomono writes for Gaijinass.com and you can like him on Facebook. Cathal McGuigan is a writer and journalist from Derry, Ireland. If you follow him on Twitter, he promises not to follow you too much in real life. What was that noise behind you?
For more names that outshone their achievements, check out The 5 Greatest Accomplishments by Men With Stupid Names. And then check out 23 Insane True Stories Behind Famous Musician Stage Names.
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