History’s 50 Most Awesome Badasses You Should Know About – Part 5

If you haven’t checked out our previous parts, check them out here.

For part 1 click here.

For part 2 click here.

For part 3 click here.

For part 4 click here.

21Harald Hardrada

Harald Hardrada was a Viking who fled from his native Norway to Russia, then went on to become an elite guardsman in Eastern Roman Empire and fought in Iraq. He then went back to Russia to marry a princess, and arrived back in Norway as a king and finally invaded England with his army.


22Grizzly Adams

The real Grizzly Adams caught a 1-year-old brown bear. He then taught her to follow him around, carry a pack and then to pull a loaded sled. She even cuddled up near Adams to keep him warm in freezing condition. Eventually, the bear that he named Lady Washington allowed Adams to ride on her back.


23Vavilov Seed Bank

In 1941, the world’s largest seed bank (Created by botanist Nikolai Vavilov) was housed in Leningrad. As the Germans surrounded the city forcing mass starvation, scientists inside the vault refused to eat from the collection, slowly dying of hunger as they maintained 16 rooms of edible plants.


24Adolphe Sax

Adolphe Sax (inventor of the saxophone) survived a three-story fall, a gunpowder explosion, drinking a bowl of sulfuric water, a near-poisoning due to furniture varnish, and falling into a speeding river, all before the age of nine. His neighbors called him “little Sax, the ghost.” He also suffered at least one assassination attempt due to the dislike of his new invention (saxophone) among instrument makers.


25Valentin Grimaldo

In 1996, a Texas man named Valentin Grimaldo was bitten by a venomous coral snake. He proceeded to kill the reptile by biting off its head and then used its skin as a tourniquet, a move that saved his life.


26Matt Urban

Matt Urban was nicknamed “The Ghost” by Germans during World War 2 for his habit of coming back from fights that would kill normal men. During one fight he blew up a German tank with a bazooka; took a 31mm tank-gun round to his leg, but continued fighting. The next day he suffered another wound and was evacuated. When he woke up in the hospital, he limped his way back with a cane and manned a machine gun under heavy fire. Days later he took shrapnel to the-chest and survived. After recovering, he took a shot to the neck, but survived again, only losing his voice. He survived the war and lived for another 51 years.


27John Weir Foote

During the first major raid against the Germans in 1941, Canadian chaplain John Weir Foote was told to sit it out. He dared his officer to arrest him to keep him out, so he was assigned as a stretcher-bearer. During the raid, he helped carry 30 wounded soldiers to safety under fire and provided them with morphine. While retreating from the beach, he disembarked and surrendered himself as he considered a POW camp needed religious guidance more than a hunch of soldiers returning to base. After three years’ imprisonment with one serious escape attempt, Foote was released. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.


28Werner Forssmann

Werner Forssmann was the first man to perform cardiac catheterization. He ignored his department chief and persuaded the operating room nurse to assist him. She agreed, but on the promise that he would do it on her rather than on himself. He pretended to locally anesthetize and cut her arm whilst he actually did the procedure on himself. He then walked downstairs to the radiology department to take the x-ray to prove he would not die. He was fired, became a Nazi and then won the Nobel Prize.


29Irish Soldiers in Congo

In 1961, about 150 Irish soldiers defended a Congo town from 3000 African tribesmen and foreign mercenaries for six days. They killed 300 of them and didn’t lose any men themselves.


30Zarrar Ibn al-Azwar

In 634, when Eastern Roman Empire met Rashidun Caliphate, among them was Zarrar Ibn al-Azwar, who was a tax-collector, but whenever war broke out he was charging the battlefield without armor earning him the nickname of “the half-naked warrior.” During this war, when the caliphate was on the verge of losing, they challenged the Byzantine officers with a series of duels against Azwar. He killed two governors and every other Roman champion, leaving the Roman army with no officers to lead. Caliphate won Syria and Palestine and ruled there for more than 1000 years.

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