Historical Badass Archive – Part 4: 42 Famous Badasses You Should Know About


1The Chernobyl divers

The Chernobyl divers

Ten days after the Chernobyl 4 disaster, further risk of massive thermal explosion was identified. Three men, now known as the “The Chernobyl divers” volunteered to swim through the radioactive pooled water under leaked reactor to find and release the safety valves. The water came up to their knees but the men lived long lives.

2Kenneth Byrd

Kenneth Byrd

Three men forced their way into the house of a 67-year-old man named Kenneth Byrd. They intended to rape his granddaughter and steal the money in his safe. He agreed to open the safe and take out the cash, but instead took out his gun and shot all of them. One of them shot him 8 times. One of them died and the other two were injured and apprehended. Byrd recovered.

3Pier Donia

Pier Donia

Pier Donia was a Dutch farmer when the Civil War broke out in the Netherlands in 1515. His wife and children were killed by the king’s soldiers. He swore to take revenge and despite having no experience with a boat or a gun, he formed a band of pirates. By the end of 1515, he captured 28 Dutch navy boats and soon started burning villages of high-class citizens. When King Charles V sent his entire fleet to stop him, Pier captured them all. He carried with him a 7-foot long sword that could behead multiple people with one swing. After realizing that he became the very thing he’d set out to defeat, he retired and died of natural causes a year later.

4Cameron Lyle

Cameron Lyle

Cameron Lyle, a college senior track and field athlete was awarded the NCAA’s Award of Valor in 2013 for ending his collegiate career one month early, ending his chances for a gold medal, in order to be a bone marrow donor to a 28-year-old father with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

5Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker

In 2008, a dog named Sophie Tucker survived 4 months lost at sea off the coast of Australia. She fell overboard while sailing in bad weather with her owners. She then swam 5 nautical miles in stormy, shark-infested water to an island where she survived for 16 weeks by hunting wild goats.

6Jan de Doot

Jan de Doot

In 1651, a Dutchman named Jan de Doot removed his own bladder stone with a kitchen knife. He pulled it out through an incision he made in his perineum. It was the size of an egg and weighed a quarter pound. He lived for years after and had the stone plated in gold.



Boudica was a Celtic queen who in 60 A.D. led an uprising against the Romans, razing three cities and killing 80,000 Romans. This was an act of revenge for Rome annexing her kingdom after her husband died, flogging her publicly and ordering her daughters raped. Rome needed more than three legions to subdue her.

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8Lisa Potts

Lisa Potts

In July 1996 , a British nursery teacher named Lisa Potts saved a classroom of children from an attacker with a machete. She was awarded with the George Medal, the second-highest honor that a civilian can receive, the following year.

9Yitzhak Ganon

Yitzhak Ganon

Yitzhak Ganon endured Mengele removing a kidney without anesthesia and survived Auschwitz because he was the 201st person in line for a 200-person gas chamber.

10Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel

During WW2, German field marshal Erwin Rommel would often personally pilot a reconnaissance aircraft over the battle to view the situation. Although Rommel did not have a pilot's license, his skill with machinery made him a competent pilot, and none of the Luftwaffe officers had the nerve to stop him.


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