Archive for April, 2009

Margaret “Maggie” Tobin Brown

Posted in Bad-ass Chicks on April 25, 2009 by badassmofos

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

Margaret “Maggie” Tobin was born (July 18, 1867) in Hannibal, Missouri. After moving to Leadville, Colorado, she met prospector James Brown and married him in 1886. Seven years later, he struck gold and began building his five million dollar fortune.

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By 1903, Margaret began tackling the tough social issues of her time: juvenile justice; children’s, women’s and miner’s rights; and social equality. When Judge Ben Lindsey met Margaret in 1903, he saw a partner that shared his vision of a juvenile court system and had the ability to raise funds and make connections. Together they created a juvenile justice system that reformed the way the state and the nation treat juvenile crimes. Margaret also became very involved in politics, as Colorado was one of the first states to give women the right to vote in the 1880’s. She became a suffragette and attended national rallies on women’s rights. Margaret first ran for the US Senate in 1909 and then again in 1911, both before women had the right to vote nationally.

Bad-ass Maggie was used to traveling to remote places and wasn’t afraid of sh!t. In April of 1912, she booked passage on the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. After the ship struck the iceberg, Maggie helped women and children into lifeboats and eventually was shoved into lifeboat six. She fell four feet into the lifeboat, arguing all the way that she wanted to stay and help others. She was an excellent swimmer and figured, at worst, she could swim to a lifeboat. Lifeboat 6 was supposed to hold 65 passengers, but it was pushed off with only 21 women and 2 men aboard. Maggie realized that it could get caught up in the suction effect caused by the sinking ship. The two dudes on the boat were a bunch of pussies, especially Quartermaster Robert Hichens.  Maggie told the women on the lifeboat to row together and not let fear take over, which is what they did. Maggie argued fiercely with Quartermaster Hichens, who refused to return to the wreck site for fear survivors in the water would swamp the boat.  When Hichens dismissed a flare fired by an approaching ship as a “shooting star,” Maggie threatened to throw him overboard. To fight the bitter cold, she shared her stable coat.

After being rescued by the ship Carpathia, she began to take action consoling survivors who spoke little English (Maggie knew five languages) and rifling through the ship to find extra blankets and supplies to distribute to the survivors. She also compiled lists of survivors and arranged for information to be radioed to their families at her expense. Margaret rallied the first class passengers to donate money to help less fortunate passengers and, before the Carpathia reached New York, $10,000 had been raised. While roughly 20% of all the passengers who escaped the sinking Titanic would later die from exposure to the cold, everyone on Margaret Brown’s boat survived …even douche-bag Hichens.

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Maggie giving Captain Arthur Henry Rostron an award for his service in the rescue of Titanic's surviving passengers.

When interviewed by reporters upon their return and asked what she attributed her survival to, she replied “Typical Brown luck. We’re unsinkable.” The Titanic disaster made Margaret a national hero. She didn’t take crap from anyone. Once, it was pointed out to her that it was improper to wear diamonds in the daytime. She replied, “I didn’t think so either, until I had some.”

She was damned pissed off that as a woman she couldn’t testify at the Titanic hearings. Because of this, Maggie wrote her own version of the event that was published in the newspapers of New York, Denver, and Paris. She founded and was head of the Titanic Survivors’ Committee which supported immigrants who had lost everything in the disaster, and helped to get a memorial erected to the Titanic survivors in Washington, DC.

In 1914, her bid for US Senate was undertaken by the Congressional Union and endorsed by the President of the National Women’s Suffrage Association of New York but she postponed her bid because of WWI. She was awarded the prestigious Palm of the Academy of France in May 1929 and the French Legion of Honor in April 1932 primarily for her work during World War I. She never did go by the name Molly, that was added decades after her death when her life was dramatized by the Broadway stage play and movie called “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

rwtm7Here are the source links: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1707 and here: http://members.fortunecity.com/titanicevidence/history/first2.htm and here: http://www.inventionmysteries.com/rwtm.html and here: http://www.ghostdepot.com/rg/history/molly%20brown.htm

Marie Curie

Posted in Bad-ass Chicks on April 23, 2009 by badassmofos

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In her native Poland, Manya Sklodowska, as she was then called, had strong positive role models. Both her parents were educators. Both were politically active. In a country, dominated by Russia, they taught patriotism and promoted the Polish culture. Marie learned early to stand by her principles. She excelled in school, even after her mother’s untimely death and her father’s financial ruin. She wanted nothing more than to obtain a higher education.

Banned from the university because of her gender (…a-holes), Marie attended classes in secret meetings at night, in ever changing locations to escape detection. Appropriately named the Floating University, it represented a grassroots movement of students who shared knowledge and strove to better themselves.

Her sister moved to France to attend medical school and Marie worked as a governess for several years to fund her education and to save money for herself, so she could join her in Paris. During this time she took chemistry lessons from a local chemist and studied sociology and literature. When her father lucked into a lucrative job and was able to regain some of his wealth, he sent Marie to Paris, so she could complete her education.

Pierre & Marie Curie

Pierre & Marie Curie

Living in disparaging conditions did not hinder Marie’s studies.  She was a bad-ass.  She had much catching up to do. The inability to find a laboratory had left her lagging behind in science. She desperately needed to find lab space. Pierre Curie, laboratory chief of the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris, provided her with an opportunity, as he needed an able assistant to aid him with his research. They ended up falling in love and married.

While Marie Curie supported her husband in his research, she also conducted her own. The birth of two children did not hinder her studies. She chose for her doctorate research a study on Uranium and its rays and she created the word “radioactivity.”  Her husband, intrigued by her discoveries, joined forces with her and together they discovered a new element in 1898: Radium.

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The scientific community became intrigued with the new element, which would be used to destroy cancer tissue. Unfortunately, Radium also damages healthy tissue and the Curies both suffered gradually declining health, due to their continued, unprotected exposure.

Both, Marie and Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, during a time when women were not usually officially acknowledged.  When Pierre was killed in a traffic accident, Marie continued her work with added intensity, determined to create a legacy for her dead husband.  In 1911, she was awarded a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry.  As the only double laureate ever, Marie set the scientific world on fire.

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During the first World War, Marie initiated the deployment of X-ray vans to the troops to assist medical of injured soldiers.  She personally operated one of the vans, tirelessly X-raying soldiers at the battle front, exposing herself to further hazard from improperly shielded rays.  As the war raged on, she helped develop radiation therapy, which would direct radiation to the exact spot where destruction of diseased tissue was needed.

Marie’s health continued to deteriorate, as the radiation did its work in her body.  At the time, a connection between her work and her illness was not positively confirmed, although she suspected it.  In 1934, Marie Curie died, leaving behind a wealth of knowledge and a mind-boggling legacy of excellence and personal sacrifice.

Here is the (really good) source link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/257438/awesome_women_marie_curie_pioneer_of_pg2.html?cat=37

Ani Pachen

Posted in Bad-ass Chicks on April 22, 2009 by badassmofos

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Ani Pachen (translation: “Great Courage”) was born in 1933 in Tibet. When she was 17, her parents decided to marry her off – but she wasn’t down with that sh!t!  She ran away and moved in to a Buddhist Monastery (a three day journey by horse) and became a Buddhist nun.  In 1958, when her father died, she became the leader of her family clan.  She took up arms and became a warrior nun – fighting to keep the damn commies from China out of her homeland.  She led her people in guerrilla warfare for a year.  The Chinese invaders had begun desecrating monasteries and murdering Tibetan families.  She bravely led a guerrilla campaign of 600 fighters on horseback against Chinese tanks. The Chinese finally caught her and threw her in jail because she refused to renounce the Dalai Lama.  She was beaten and hung by her wrists for a week, spent a year in leg irons and was flung for nine months into solitary confinement in an unlit cell.  The last 11 years of her sentence were spent in the infamous Drapchi prison in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

Chinese prison is no joke either.  Ani was forced to wash stinky commie Chinese soldiers’ clothes.  Also, the prisoners had to dig earth, mix it with water to make clay, and then heat the clay to make bricks.  After the bricks were dried, prisoners had to carry 10 bricks at a time.  Ani, being a bad-ass, spent a third of her life lifting crap-loads of bricks and washing douche-bag’s dirty underwear.

She repeatedly wrote to the prison authorities that she had not visited her home in twenty years.  In 1979, she was granted permission to leave for two months because of the international exposure it gained.  Being true to her word (and not full of crap), she returned to the labor camp after two months.

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As soon as she was released from Prison 21 years later, she went right back to her warrior ways, leading protests and demonstrations.  Having mad experience moving bricks all day, she worked along with hundreds of other Tibetan volunteers moving earth and stones from the ruins of Gaden monastery.  She was an active participant in all the three major protest demonstrations organized by the monks of Drepung, Sera and Gaden.  When she found out she was going to be put incarcerated again, she fled to the border of Tibet.  She walked for 25 days in the deep snow to escape to Nepal.

Once in exile, Ani Pachen never ceased to work for the freedom struggle.  Ani Pachen’s autobiography, Sorrow Mountain: the journey of a Tibetan warrior nun, was published in 2000.  Ani Pachen gave lectures about the tragedy in Tibet and her experiences to audiences in USA and Europe.  She had also participated in Peace Marches in various countries of the world.  Her dream to meet the Dalai Lama also finally came true.

She died, more peacefully than her tumultuous life, in 2002.

Here are the source links: http://www.radicalparty.org/tibet/ani_panchen.htm and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani_Pachen

Jason “J-Mac” McElwain

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on April 22, 2009 by badassmofos

Jason McElwain, nicknamed “J-Mac” (born October 1, 1988), is an American with autism who made national news in 2006 when he played for four minutes during a high school basketball game and scored twenty points.

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Jason "J-Mac" McElwain

McElwain was diagnosed with autism at a young age.  He didn’t begin talking until he was 5 and still lacks social skills; however, he has learned to cope well in his teens, said his special-education teacher, Diane Maddock.  McElwain had a passion for basketball, so Greece Athena High School basketball coach Jim Johnson appointed him manager (a.k.a. “motivational water boy”) of the team.

On February 15, 2006, Greece Athena was playing Spencerport High School for a division title.  Jim Johnson decided to add McElwain to the roster, so J-Mac could be given a jersey and sit on the bench for the team’s last home game of the season.  Greece Athena got a large lead, so Johnson decided to let McElwain play in the last four minutes.  It was his first and only appearance for the Athena varsity team in this Rochester suburb.  After initially missing two shots, the 5-foot-6 McElwain made six three-point shots and one two-pointer.  The final score was Greece Athena 79, Spencerport 43.  As soon as the final buzzer rang, the stands erupted and stormed the court in celebration.  J-Mac was carried off the court on his teammates’ shoulders.

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“It was like a big old bucket and I was just hitting them like they were free throws,” McElwain said.  “I just felt relaxed.”

The coach couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“He’s been my right-hand man, he’s there every day and just getting him the opportunity to suit up was emotional enough for me,” he said.  “For him to come in and seize the moment like he did was certainly more than I ever expected.  I was an emotional wreck.”

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McElwain met President George W. Bush on March 14, 2006, when Bush stopped by a nearby airport, so he could meet McElwain.  Standing next to McElwain, Bush went on to praise him, saying “Our country was captivated by an amazing story on the basketball court.  It’s the story of a young man who found his touch on the basketball court, which, in turn, touched the hearts of citizens all around the country.”  Bush also claimed that upon seeing McElwain on television, he “wept, just like a lot of other people did.”  Bad-asses make presidents weep. Quarterback Peyton Manning visited and invited McElwain to the Colts’ training camp for a week.  He accepted.

J-Mac Bobble-head

J-Mac Bobble-head

McElwain threw out the opening pitch for the Rochester Red Wings’ game against the Charlotte Knights.  The Red Wings also gave away 3,500 free bobble-head dolls that were modeled after McElwain.

McElwain even won an ESPY Award for the Best Moment in Sports in 2006.  To win that award, McElwain beat out Kobe Bryant’s 81-point-game and the George Mason Patriots’ run to the Final Four.  Who does that? A bad-ass mo-fo. The speech that Jason gave upon winning the award was about dreams coming true.  In addition to the many celebrities McElwain met, he also appeared on various talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show (what the hell is up with bad-asses ending up on Oprah?), Larry King Live (an oxymoron), Good Morning America, and Today.

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In 2007, Topps trading cards produced a Jason McElwain card as part of its retro-themed Allen & Ginter set.  In 2009, he appeared in a Super Bowl commercial for Gatorade as part of their “What is G?” ad campaign.

Following his rise to fame, Jason McElwain wrote a book titled The Game of My Life (2/5/2008).  The 256 pages long book is written mainly by Jason, but includes sections written by his family, coach, and teammates.  Editorial reviews were left by celebrities such as Magic Johnson and Doug Flutie.

Because he played in just one regular-season game, McElwain was ineligible for sectional play.  But he’s not bothered.  “I just want to win as a team, not individually,” he said.  What’s more, he prides himself on having a lot of friends.

“I’m not really that different,” he said.  “I don’t really care about this autistic situation, really.  It’s just the way I am.  The advice I’d give to autistic people is just keep working, just keep dreaming, you’ll get your chance and you’ll do it.”

J-Mac with young autistic boy

J-Mac with young autistic boy

In April 2006, it was announced that Columbia Pictures had bought the rights to produce a film about McElwain.  He also travels across the United States to help raise funds for autism, because he is a bad-ass savant.

Here is a video with J-Mac’s bad-ass performance: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-818944862742874918

Here are the source links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_McElwain and here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2348397

Vesna Vulović

Posted in Bad-ass Chicks on April 19, 2009 by badassmofos

Vesna Vulovic

Vesna Vulović (born 3 January 1950) is a former Serbian flight attendant.  She holds the world record, according to the Guinness Book of Records, for surviving the highest fall without a parachute: 10,160 meters (33,333 feet).

The fall occurred on January 26, 1972, over Srbská Kamenice in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), after JAT Flight 367, on which Vulović was a flight attendant, broke apart.  The official report stated that there had been an explosion in the front baggage compartment of the plane.  The Czechoslovak secret service, which was leading the investigation, presented parts of an alarm clock ten days after the crash which they claimed came from a bomb.

The report concluded that the plane was torn apart by that bomb.  On the morning of 27 January 1972 an anonymous man called the newspaper Kvällsposten published in Malmö, Sweden claiming in bad Swedish that he was a Croat and member of a Nationalist group that brought the bomb onto the plane.  Apart from this no further evidence was ever found that this was a terrorist attack.  According to the official report the explosion tore the McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 to pieces in mid-air, and Vesna was the only survivor. She survived because she had been in the rear part of the plane; however, Vulović states that she was found in the middle section right above the wings.

Vesna looking cutesy

That tallies with what was said by Bruno Henke, the man who saved Vesna’s life by rescuing her from the wrecked fuselage on the ground.  The 22-year old was not scheduled to be on that flight; she had been mixed up with another female flight attendant who was also named Vesna.

Vulović continued working for JAT at a desk job following her full recovery from injuries which included a fractured skull, two broken legs and three broken vertebrae that left her temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.  She regained the use of her legs after surgery and continued to fly sporadically.  She claims she has no fear of flying, which she attributes to the loss of memory of the crash, and she even enjoys watching movies with plane crashes.  Why?  Because she is a bad-ass.

After the fall

She is considered a national heroine throughout the former Yugoslavia.  Vulović was awarded the Guinness Record title by Paul McCartney at a ceremony.  Vulović was eventually fired in 1990 for expressing views critical of Yugoslav ruler Slobodan Milošević, who is a douche-bag.  Bad-asses hate douche-bags.  She participated in protests against his rule afterward, up to and including the Bulldozer Revolution that led to his ousting.  Many believe that her status as a national heroine prevented the authorities from arresting her despite her open defiance of the Milošević regime.

She continues to be vocal in politics in Serbia, and is a supporter of current President Boris Tadić.  Her story draws attention to this day.

Vesna today (circa 2008)

Vesna today (circa 2008)

Czech Civilian Aviation Authority issued a statement that the cause of the Yugoslav plane crash was an evergreen tree and speculations on it appear in the media from time to time.  Politics have a way of making people spew bullsh!t.  Vesna Vulovic called the conspiracy theory ridiculous, denying the claim that the plane attempted forced landing and descended to such low altitude, which she called a complete sensationalist nonsense.

Here is the source link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesna_Vulovi%C4%87

Hannah Snell

Posted in Bad-ass Chicks on April 19, 2009 by badassmofos

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Born in Worcester, England, Hannah Snell married James Summs in 1744. When she became pregnant, Summs left, and after the death of their daughter, Susannah, who lived only a year, she decided to find her husband. Chicks can be badass mo-fos, too.

Hannah Snell decided to track down her missing husband by traveling in male attire borrowed from her brother-in-law, James Gray, whose name she assumed. “He” quickly found herself pressed into General Guise’s Regiment. She fought with the Duke of Northumberland’s army against Bonnie Prince Charlie. She deserted after a sergeant sentenced her to 500 lashes. F@ck that. That $hit hurts.

Hannah Snell then enlisted in the Royal Marines at Portsmouth, still hoping to find her missing husband.  For over two years Hannah Snell had concealed her true sex while serving in a regiment. She shipped out to the East Indies on the Swallow through great storms. She fought in the siege of Araapong and in the campaign to capture Pondicherry, and later in the battle in Devicotta. She was whupping ass in mud-filled trenches.  By her own account, she was wounded a number of times, avoiding exposure by removing a bullet from her own groin with the help of an Indian nurse.

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Battle of Pondicherry

When the ship returned to Lisbon, Hannah Snell had news of her missing husband: he’d been executed for murder in Genoa.

After her unit returned to England in 1750, Hannah Snell told her fellow soldiers about her disguise, and returned to wearing female attire.

After that revelation, Hannah followed her mates’ advice and approached the Duke of Cumberland on June 16, 1750 while he was reviewing troops in St. James’s Park. Surprised by the curious figure standing before him, the Duke accepted a petition from Hannah, which detailed her many adventures. Afterward, Hannah Snell published her life story, written by Robert Walker, in The Female Soldier, or the Surprising Adventures of Hannah Snell. She appeared on stage in London in military uniform and her story became known through the country.  She normally would do military drills and sing patriotic songs.  She received an honorable discharge, her service was recognized officially, and she was granted a lifetime military pension.

“Why gentlemen, James Gray will cast off his skin like a snake and become a new creature. In a word, gentlemen, I am as much a woman as my mother ever was, and my real name is Hannah Snell.” –The Female Soldier, 1750.

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Hannah Snell briefly opened a pub, perhaps named The Female Warrior though sources differ. Pregnant, she married carpenter Samuel Eyles in 1759 and had two children, and after she was again widowed, she married Richard Habgood in 1772. In 1785 she was living with her son, an attorney in London. She passed in 1791.

Here are the source links about her here: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/militarygeneral/p/hannah_snell.htm and here: http://www.users.bigpond.com/ShipStreetPress/Snell/

Kyle Maynard

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on April 18, 2009 by badassmofos

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Kyle Maynard was born with a rare disorder called congenital amputation.  Kyle was born with no legs, only two small feet turned at weird angles where the tops of the femurs are supposed to be.  That can be a pretty severe handicap, but try wrestling with no legs … and no fingers, no hands and no elbows!  He was born with stubs for arms that stop a few inches above where his elbows should be.  “We didn’t think he’d ever be able to live on his own,” remembers Anita, Kyle’s mother.

Kyle’s dad made a pivotal decision that would ultimately bless his son in ways he could not have known. The Maynards would raise Kyle with a lot of love—but no special treatment. They let little Kyle figure out how to get around on his own, how to use a spoon and how to overcome the hundreds of obstacles he faced—all by himself. Kyle rose to every challenge, and never felt the need to use prosthetics. “It was a decision I made early on,” he says. … [The prosthetics] slowed me down. Why be disabled when I could get up and run around the house without them?”

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Like many other boys, Kyle dreamed of playing football. “I thought they would put him as water boy,” Anita says. But Kyle was no water boy. Amazingly, he played down in the trenches with the other guys. His small size, however, put him at a disadvantage. Kyle set his eyes on another sport—wrestling.  Again Kyle was at a disadvantage. He went a year and a half without a win. “He lost and he lost,” says Scott, Kyle’s father, “I started to think this wasn’t such a good idea.” But Kyle stuck it out. Badasses do not give up.

He has no elbows and no knees, yet he competed in the 2004 Georgia High School Wrestling Championships. He graduated from Collins Hill High School with a wrestling record of 35 wins, 16 losses and a 3.7 GPA.  “He was for real,” said Cliff Ramos, Maynard’s coach at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga. “Nobody took him lightly. And if they did, they regretted it.” He used his head and face like a battering ram and his arms like little clubs.  The opponents who felt sorry for him usually ended up bleeding and watching the referee raise Kyle’s arm after the match.

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He is the recipient of a 2004 ESPN Espy Award for the Best Athlete With A Disability and has been featured on many radio interviews, talk shows, and television programs. He has modeled for Abercrombie & Fitch. Currently he works as a speaker for the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, specializing in motivational speeches. He is also the author of the memoir No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.

No excuses to me,” Kyle says, “is just an attitude. It’s an attitude that says I can accomplish anything. No matter what it takes, I’m going to go out there and achieve my dreams. If I made an excuse early on in my life, I would have given up a lot of things. But I’m here with you today because I made no excuses.”

“I think God made me the way I am because now I have the opportunity to go out and speak and write this book. I have the opportunity to reach other people and tell them that anything’s possible as long as you carry this attitude with you.”

“He uses an electric razor to shave,” his mother Anita says, “an electric toothbrush to brush his teeth. He can put on his socks. The typewriting is what amazes me—he types 50 words a minute!”

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Kyle lifting 360 pounds ...like a badass

Kyle Maynard is attending the University of Georgia and continues to wrestle. Also, Kyle has recently began training in Mixed Martial Art.  Maynard has competed in wrestling and Brazilian jujitsu and is making an effort to compete in mixed martial arts. The Georgia State Athletic Commission has denied him permission and he’s looking elsewhere to follow his dream of competing in MMA.  There is an upcoming documentary on his story entitled A Fighting Chance.

You can watch Kyle Maynard wrestle here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdlajKhoj9k

Here are the source links about him are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyle_Maynard and here: http://www.nordinho.net/vbull/book-reviews/22852-no-excuses-true-story-congenital-amputee-who-became-champion-wrestling.html and here: http://www.nhsca.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=169%3Awrestling-with-no-arms-or-legs&catid=38%3Aathletes&Itemid=101