3. Milo of Croton
Another one of my historic favorites. Milo was a six-time Olympic wrestling champion from a Greek colony in Italy called Croton. He lived about the same time as fellow Greek Bybon, mentioned above. This makes us think these Greek dudes were probably descendants of Hercules himself. He was famous for having exceptional physical strength and some badass eating habits. Story goes he ate 20lbs of meat, 20lbs of bread and drank about 2.6 gallons of wine daily.
Legends says he was able to hold a pomegranate in his closed fist without anyone being able to pry his fingers open without crushing the fruit and that he once carried his own bronze statue to it’s place on Olympus. So, how exactly did the illegitimate son of Hercules manage to perform such an act? I’m glad you asked. He carried a young calf on his back every day for four years for an unspecified distance up a hill until that calf turned into a fully grown bull.
Then one day, he slaughtered it and ate it. His death as awesome as his life was. One day he was walking through a forrest and saw a slightly split tree, and being the badass he was, he tried to split it in half. After some fighting, his fingers slipped and he got caught in the cracks of the tree. Unable to defend himself, a pack of wild wolves attacked him and ended his life.
4. Zishe Breitbart
For this installment, we’re traveling a bit closer to our time with another classic strongman boasting incredible feats. Born Siegmund Breitbart, Zishe was a 1920s Jewish strongman and a blacksmith. He developed an iron addiction and used it to make a career of mastering metal, like Magneto…but without the mutant superpowers.
He was noted for bending iron bars in floral patterns, tearing apart and/or biting through iron chains, and my favorite feat of his, lifting a baby elephant while climbing a ladder and holding a locomotive wheel in his teeth while three men were suspended from the wheel! And that’s only some of his strength feats. In fact he was so famous for his amazing strength back then, there’s a pretty good chance that he was the inspiration behind the creation of The Last Son of Krypton, Superman.
His life was cut short at the tender age of 32 as he was performing his usual stunt of driving a nail through a stack of boards with his bare hands. The freak accident happened when he drove a rusty nail through five one-inch-thick boards, which were placed on his leg, thusly piercing his leg and contracting blood poisoning. Doctors did what they could to try and save him, even amputating both of his legs, but it was no use as he died shorty after the incident.
5. Alexander Zass
Just like many men on this list, Alexander Zass was born in the late 19th century in modern day Lithuania (then part of Russian Empire), Vilnius. His story reads like something straight out of a comic book. During World War I, Zass joined the Russian army in a fight against Austria. He was captured as a P.O.W. four times and escaped each time. How, you ask? Well, he used the bars and his handcuffs as a form of resistance training.
While bending the bars of his cell would enhance his strength and also would allow him to escape every time he got captured. After the war he went to tour with a circus performing various feats of strength. Among his most memorable accomplishments is carrying two lions on his shoulders, carrying a grand piano with one woman on top and another playing the thing.
He credited his strength to isometric training against static objects. The goal was to exert as much force as possible. Because the the objects that he was pulling or pushing against were immovable, he could force his muscles to full capacity. So, yeah…you wanna be strong and ripped? Try physically moving your house. You’ll get weird looks and laughs at first, but we’ll see who’s laughing when one day you decide to go for a walk with a car on your back.