55 Impossibly Tough Humans
Do you feel like wrestling a bear today, fighting dozens of men at once, or turning into a superhero who glides through the air? Well, we're not going to say any of that's unrealistic. As you'll see in the following stories we've collected, badasses throughout history have done all that easily -- and much more.
1. Yonatan Azarihab
Yonatan was collecting for charity in the Israeli city of Petah Tikva in 2016. A stranger stabbed him in the neck, as part of a series of attacks coinciding with Joe Biden's visit to the country. Yonatan pulled the knife out of his neck and stabbed the attacker right back before he could kill a store owner.
2. Ludvik Svoboda
In 1968, Soviet Secretary Leonid Brezhnev was holding 26 Czechoslovakian political prisoners. Czech leader Ludvik Svoboda came to his office, put a gun to his own head, and said, "If I kill myself, my blood will be on your hands, and no one in the world will believe you did not murder me." Brezhnev released the hostages within hours.
3. Ingrid Loyau-Kennett
Two terrorists ran down a man in London in 2013 and were stabbing him when Cub Scout leader Ingrid came upon them. "Right now, it is only you versus many people; you are going to lose," she told one, "what would you like to do?" Then she asked the other, "What about you? Would you like to give me what you have in your hands?" Her talk stopped them till the police arrived.
4. Douglas Mawson
Mawson and two partners were exploring Antarctica in 1912. One fell into a crevasse, taking most of their supplies with them. The second died of exhaustion, and then Mawson's sledge pulled him into a crevasse too. But he clawed his way out, reached his destination, and learned the boat he sought had left a few hours earlier. So he was stuck on the continent for an extra 10 months.
5. Neerja Bhanot
When terrorists took over Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986, flight attendant Neerja Bhanot helped American passengers hide their passports to avoid being targeted. Once the hijackers started firing, and passengers began fleeing down the slides, Neerja stayed behind to get as many out as possible, dying in the process.
6. Werner Freund
7. Eric Fullerton
White supremacist Curtis Allgier broke out of jail then entered a Salt Lake City Arby's. He tried to fire at an employee and missed, then grandfather Eric Fullerton threw himself at him. With Fullerton keeping him from shooting, Algier grabbed a knife and slashed Fullerton's throat open. Fullerton still managed to disarm him and hold him till police arrived.
8. Jesus Garcia
In 1907, a train loaded with dynamite was headed to the Mexican mining town of Nacozari, about to explode. Most in the train jumped off. But brakeman Jesus Garcia stayed on so he could drive the train as far out of town as possible. He died but saved hundreds.
9. Saadat Khan
When a robber pulled a gun on Massachusetts convenience store owner Saadat Khan, Khan said, "You're swearing to God, and you have a gun in your hand. It doesn't make any sense to me. If you believe in God, you shouldn't be holding a gun at my face, so you better leave." The robber didn't leave. So Khan punched him in the face with a fist coated in chili powder. That did the trick.
10. Valentin Grimaldo
A venomous coral snake bit Valentin Grimaldo's hand in 1996. So he bit the snake back, biting its head off, and then skinned the snake and used this skin as a tourniquet to keep the venom from spreading. The head, he kept as a souvenir.
11. Percy Pickard
With French resistance soldiers stuck in Amiens Prison in 1944, Percy Pickard's RAF squadron put together a crazy plan. They flew their planes so low they'd smash through the prison walls and guardhouse without damaging the prison itself. It worked, and they freed 255 men.
12. Josip "Tito" Broz
Stalin sent assassins 22 times to kill Yugoslavian leader Tito Broz. They all failed. So Title sent Stalin a letter, saying, "If you don't stop sending killers, I will send one to Moscow. And I won't have to send a second."
13. Tim Lancaster
14. The Mystery Samurai
Burglars disguised as policemen entered a home in South Shields, UK ... and found they'd broken into a police school, full of plainclothes officers. So did the officers stop them? No. Before they could, an unidentified man with a samurai sword appeared and chased them off. No one ever found out who he was.
15. Brendon Malovrh
When a sniper attacked Penn State in 1996, Brendon Malovrh subdued her by taking the telescopic rifle right out of her hands. She then pulled out a hunting knife but ended up stabbing herself, and Brendon applied first aid on her, using his belt as a tourniquet.
16. Bryce McCormick
Someone forgot to seal the cargo door of American Airlines Flight 96. So it flew off and hit the tail, causing the entire interior to start breaking up from the pressure drop. Pilot McCormick managed to land safely -- which was amazing since a similar French incident killed everyone involved.
17. Robert Crellin
The Empress of Ireland hit another ship in 1914 and started to sink. Eight-year-old Florence Barbour was terrified. But then her uncle Robert said, "Don't be frightened, dear, I've got you. God be willing, darling, we will save everyone." And then he did just that.
18. Greg Rasmussen
Conservationist Greg Rasmussen crashed in the Kalahari Desert, with his legs nearly severed off. Then elephants stampeded at him. Then lions stalked him, and he drove them off by drumming on the plane wreckage, and then a hyena attacked. But he made it out.
19. Oriana Fallaci
Ayatollah Khomeini demanded that Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci wear a Muslim head covering while interviewing him. But when he said, "If you do not like Islamic dress, you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women," she replied, "Since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag" and pulled it off. He left the interview and wasn't seen for two days.
20. Ron Hunt
21. Larry Skopnik
When a robber held up a convenience store in 2010, Larry Skopkik plowed into him and wrestled him to the floor. Oh, and did we mention Larry managed this despite being paraplegic?
22. Ronnie O'Brien
Richard Maynard jumped out of a plane while tied to his skydiving instructor, but the cord choked the instructor's neck. Friend Ronnie then maneuvered to them both in mid-air, undid the cord, and deployed the safety chute -- with just an estimated 12 seconds to spare.
At 12, Zora composed a list of 12 skills she needed to learn to become a superhero. She mastered them all -- everything from martial arts to elephant riding -- then, after getting her PhD, she applied to the CIA. When they rejected her, she became a bounty hunter.
24. The SAS
Thieves in Manchester, England, opened the doors to an unlocked car in 2011 and reached in to steal some stereo equipment. The car happened to be filled with four members of British Special Armed Services. They did not have much trouble stopping the thieves.
25. Louis Zamperini
When WW2 pilot Louis Zamperini's plane crashed, he lasted on a raft for 27 days, fighting off sharks by beating them with his paddle. Then a Japanese bomber spotted him and attacked six times. Zamperini got away and made it another 20 days before reaching land. The Japanese put him in a POW camp for two years.
Aicha (surname withheld) left the Netherlands to join ISIS. She soon realized this was a bad idea but couldn't get away. So her mother Monique headed toward Syria, got caught in Turkey and was deported, went toward Syria again, sneaked in wearing a burqa, and got her daughter out of there.
27. Allen Crum
28. Richard and Angela Moyer
The Moyers let the dog into their Pennsylvania home one night in 2011, and a full-grown black bear came in after it. They wrestled the bear together in the living room. They chased it out, and both survived. The dog lived too.
29. Keith Lovegrove
When a thief broke into his car, Keith Lovegrove ran up to it and grabbed hold of the bumper. The car dragged him for 200 yards then hit a speed bump, which Keith used to somersault into the open trunk and then into the backseat, where he got the thief in a headlock.
30. Ricky Megee
Ricky didn't even remember how he ended up stranded in the Australian outback in 2001. But he trekked 10 days from where he woke then made camp for three months. He survived on raw leeches, grasshoppers, and the occasional frog.
31. Vic Stacy
Charles Ronald Conner went on a rampage with an AR-15 after a dog pooped in his yard. A bystander, Vic Stacy, managed to take him down with a handgun ... from 165 yards away. You shouldn't even be able to cover than distance with a handgun, much less hit your target.
32. Basil Embry
Embry was shot down over Nazi-controlled France and got taken prisoner. Unfazed, he took control of the car they put him in and crashed it, and escaped. The Germans caught him and locked him in a farmhouse, but he escaped again by punching out his guard.
33. Michael Esser
In Marburg, Germany, a teen mugger demanded a blind man turn over his cigarettes then punched him in the face when he refused. This blind man happened to be a world champion in blind judo, so he easily knocked the kid to the ground and held him until the police could arrest him.
34. Taitex Phlamachha
35. Rikers Inmates
In 1957, a plane crashed on Rikers Island, killing one-fifth of its passengers. Prisoners at the penitentiary there ran up to the wreckage and pulled everyone who survived the original impact to safety.
36. Moss Hills
The Greek cruise ship Oceanos slowly sank in 1994, and most of the crew slipped away in lifeboats without telling the guests what was happening. But onboard guitarist Moss Hills stuck around and radioed for help. As they waited to see if helicopters would come soon enough (they did), he played his guitar to keep spirits up.
37. Albert Johnson
Johnson built a cabin in northern Canada. The Mounties heard he was messing with people's animal traps, so they came by and dynamited the cabin. He got away anyway, leaving fake trails for them to track and climbing a 7,000-foot mountain.
38. Muelmar Magallanes
A 2009 typhoon killed 700 in the Philippines. But 18-year-old Muelmar saved dozens of people by tying them to him and then swimming to safety with them in tow. The last ones he rescued were a mother and her six-month-old baby, and then he collapsed into the water and died.
39. Marina Chapman
At four, Marina was kidnapped from her Colombian village and wound up alone in the jungle. She lived among the monkeys for years, then returned to the city to lead a gang of child thieves. A family finally took her in, and when they turned out to be slavers, she escaped and headed for the jungle again.
40. Michael J. Fitzmaurice
Army Specialist Fitzmaurice jumped on a grenade in Vietnam. It blew up, injuring him severely and partly blinding him, but his flak jacket kept him alive. A second grenade blew his rifle out of his hand. He went on fighting.
41. Rukhsana Kausar
42. Joe Welch
Joe and his six-year-old son Joey were canoeing in 2013 when Joey fell out and into an 8-foot alligator's mouth. Joe leaped down and started punching the gator, soon helped by an unidentified Florida man who came and kicked the alligator's belly. The gator surrendered.
43. Shen Jianzhon
A landlord in Bazhou, China, sent a gang to pressure residents into vacating. Shen Jianzhon and his son, both kung-fu enthusiasts, fought back, successfully beating the entire gang, which numbered over 30. The aftermath was caught on tape.
44. Jim Sherman
Heard of the blind leading the blind? Well, in 2011, Jim Sherman received a call saying his 84-year-old neighbor was trapped in her burning building. He got in there and led her out. Both Jim and his neighbor were blind.
45. Rhonda Carlsen
In 2012, a New Mexico school bus driver had a seizure and lost control of the vehicle. The bus passed a waiting mom, Rhonda Carlsen, who then chased the bus down, banged the door till a kid opened it, then hauled herself in and brought the bus to a stop.
46. Eddie Peoples
Iraq war vet Peoples jumped into his van and chased a fleeing bank robber, blocking the getaway car in. The robber got out and ordered him out of the van at gunpoint, so Peoples twisted the gun out of his hands and pinned him to the ground.
47. Rani of Jhansi
Princess Rani was born in 1835, married at 12, and then when her husband died, the British seized her land. She went to war with her toddler strapped to her back.
48. The Icebox Survivors
49. Youra Livchitz
Youra and two other medical students ambushed a convoy taking captives to Auschwitz. They faked an emergency signal with red tissue paper, took on the guards with a single pistol, and opened the train up so 17 passengers could hop off.
50. Virgine Ujlaky
A burglar broke into a home in Budapest, hoping for some easy looting. Unfortunately for him, the owner turned out to be an Olympic fencer, and she soon pinned him with a sword. When emergency services came, they had to treat him for shock.
51. Mauro Prosperi
Prosperi ran the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile footrace through the Sahara. When a sandstorm started, he ran through it instead of stopping, so he got totally lost. By the time he found other people five days later, he was 130 miles off course.
52. Ivan Marcano
Off-duty cop Ivan Marcano identified himself to a couple crooks pistol-whipping a victim. One shot him in the chest. Ivan's girlfriend started driving him to the hospital, but they passed a crashed car, containing those same crooks. Ivan got out and shot one, earning himself an immediate promotion.
53. Coolidge Winesett
In 2000, 75-year-old Winesett's Virginia outhouse gave way, dumping him a lake of feces. The man had only one fully functioning leg and one fully functioning arm, so he couldn't get out. But he managed to tread poop soup for three days until a mailman discovered him.
54. David Parker
Parker, 61, was walking on a Canadian gravel road when a mountain lion sprang at him. It tore into his skull, so his flapping scalp covered his eyes. But he managed to kill it, nearly decapitating it with a pocket knife he happened to have on him.
55. Joseph Greenstein