Since time immemorial man has tested his strength, stamina, and prowess against the forces of nature. We climbed sheer, crumbling cliffs just to say we did it. We hunted lions with spears to prove our valor to the tribe. We allowed poisonous insects to pierce our skin to display our unflinching resolve. And we challenge giant flightless birds to spaghetti eating contests to…wait, that one doesn’t sound right.
Really? This happened?
For your entertainment, here are two unnecessary (and possibly idiotic) feats of manly strength performed by individuals hell-bent on telling the animal kingdom to step aside.
Man vs Ostrich – Spaghetti Eating
He switched to shaving with broken glass. The stick was giving him splinters.
In 1919 Ping Bodie was a center fielder for the New York Yankees. And as we all know in the early prohibition era America had 3 things in abundance: liquor, baseball, and a shockingly negligent attitude toward animal cruelty.
So it was that Ping agreed to duel the prize bird of the Jacksonville Florida Zoo– an ostrich named Percy. What was the weapon of choice picked by the Italian-American ball player?
On April 3rd the Jacksonville City Hall was filled with eager onlookers, despite the event not being advertised in the local paper. Ping managed to put down 11 bowls of pasta while Percy, probably due to his tiny brain, tried to match the burly baller noodle-for-noodle. By firsthand accounts Percy also ate a man’s pocket watch by accident. And depending on the source, passed out and possibly died after the 11th dish, from what we recognize today as “Old Country Buffet Exhaustion.”
When you consider the fact that ostriches can stomach about 8 pounds of grain, one might find Percy’s death-by-pasta a little suspect. Except for the fact that articles about ostriches and emus eating themselves to death is pretty easy to come by.
Man vs Octopus – Wrestling
Waayyy back in ancient history we find documented cases of divers dragging octopi up from shallow waters, risking life and limb to show these 8-limbed sacks of writhing muscle who’s boss. How far back in the annals do we have to search to find these titans of the deep; these chisel-jawed men willing to piss in Poseiden’s eye for machismo and bragging rights?
Oh, about 1949. As seen in Mechanix Illustrated.
Why? I mean, really, why?
And that’s not even the latest version. Hell, in 1963 during the World Octopus Wrestling Championships (a real thing) a 57 pound Giant Pacific octopus was wrangled up from the blue. And “giant” isn’t a colorful moniker they gave to the animal who previously held the title for “not being dragged out of its oceanic home by bored assholes.” It’s really a Giant Pacific Octopus.
If you’re from the internet like me, by now you may be rolling your eyes, unimpressed by grown men whose claim to fame is grabbing a wet mass of wrinkly flesh from the ocean floor. That is, until you consider the ink clouds, the high intelligence, the raw strength, the camouflage, and the venomous beak of the octopus.
That’s not Photoshopped. That’s him using chromatophores to blend in better than if he was wearing a goddamn stealth suit. At least the Predator sparked when he got wet. Putting a 60-lb octopus in a half nelson would be like wrestling a Yautja on his home turf, if he suddenly went slack whenever you dragged him over the threshold of his front door. God help us when they access the self-destruct mechanism that nature probably imbued them with just to fuck with us.
By and large the sport has died out, and is now banned in most states. But like most things strange, idiotic, or heinous, you can still find recent videos of people going toe-to-tentacle with these poor cephalopods. On Youtube, no less.
So, another victory for the internet, I guess?
…The Martha Stewart story.