Archive for May, 2009

Herbert James Munro

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on May 10, 2009 by badassmofos

The Legend of the World’s Fastest Indian

Burt MunroH. J. “Burt” Munro was born in 1899, at his parents home in Invercargill, New Zealand.  His twin sister died at birth and Burt, said the doctor, “won’t live till he’s two.”  What he didn’t take into account was that Burt was a bad-ass.  Fortunately for New Zealand and motorcycle history, the doctor was wrong.

Burt was constantly bored with the daily routine.  His interest in speed began at a young age, riding the family’s fastest horse across the farm, despite the complaints of his father.  Trips via train to the port at Invercargill were a rare source of excitement, and the arrival of cars, motorcycles and aircraft added to Burt’s eagerness to join the world outside of his farm.  His family discouraged his endeavors outside of farm life, but that didn’t stop Burt.

Burt's Munro Special in its ongoing development, circa 1943

Burt's Munro Special in its ongoing development, circa 1943

In 1915 he bought his first motorcycle, a Douglas.  By 1919, Burt had saved £50 to buy a new Clyno with a sidecar.  He removed the sidecar and entered the Clyno in local races.  Speed records were set at the Fortrose circuit, near Invercargill, but the Clyno wasn’t kept for long when the Indian came on the scene.

World's Fastest Indian

In 1920, the 21 year old Munro stood gazing at a brand-new motorcycle in an Invercargill garage.  His eyes roved over the neat little V twin engine, the cast alloy primary case, and the leaf sprung front fork.  His hand lovingly stroked the gleaming red paint and the sparkle of the polished nickel matched that in his eyes.  The proprietor was spoken to, a deal was struck, and the young man bought his motorcycle—beginning a partnership which was to last until his death in December 1978.  Burt’s Indian Scout was very early off the production line, being only the 627th Scout to leave the American factory.  The bike wasn’t a very fast model and, in original condition, would have been lucky to achieve 60mph.


The motor: no pressure feed, just hand oiled before every run.

Burt began modifying his bike in 1926.  Burt wasn’t a rich man and his methods, to say the least, were unorthodox.  He used an old spoke for a micrometer and cast parts in old tins.  One American report has him casting pistons in holes in the sand at the local beach!  He built his own four-cam design to replace the standard two-cam system and converted the engine to overhead valves.  He made his own barrels, flywheels, pistons, cams, and lubrication system.  He hand-carved his rods from a Caterpillar tractor axle, and hardened & tempered them to 143 tons of tensile strength.  He built a thousand pound pressure clutch and used a triple chain drive.  He also experimented with streamlining and, in its final form, the bike was completely enclosed in a streamlined shell.  Basically, he redid damn near everything.  In its final stages, the Indian’s displacement was 950cc (as built it was 600cc).  Hell, he used a cork from a brandy bottle as a gas cap!

73-5654_600He competed around New Zealand and Australia regularly setting records and winning races.  His goal though, was to test the bike on the salt flats at Bonneville in Utah.  In 1962, at the age of 63, he made it to America with the Indian hoping to compete.  He had not signed up, but was allowed to race through the co-operation of Rollie Free and Marty Dickerson (also bad-asses).  He set a world record for 850cc engines of 179mph.

Burt at the FlatsHis visits to the salt were not without incident. In the 1973 first issue of Motorcycle New Zealand, Burt is quoted as follows: “At the Salt in 1967, we were going like a bomb.  Then she got the wobbles just over half way through the run. To slow her down, I sat up.  The wind tore my goggles off and the blast forced my eyeballs back into my head – couldn’t see a thing.  We were so far off the black line that we missed a steel marker stake by inches.  I put her down – a few scratches all ’round but nothing much else”  At the time Burt was traveling at close to 206 mph!


In all, Burt Munro made ten trips to Bonneville.  In 1967, at the age of 68, he set a land speed record of 185.586 mph—on a 47-year old machine with an original top speed of 55.  To this day, no one has broken his record (motorcycle under 1000cc).

Munro2The “Munro Special,” as Munro called his bike, is now owned by a motorcycle enthusiast on New Zealand’s South Island, and is on display at E. Hayes & Sons, Invercargill.  His efforts, and success, are the basis of the motion picture The World’s Fastest Indian (2005), starring Anthony Hopkins, and an earlier 1971 short documentary film Burt Munro: Offerings to the God of Speed.

The Munro Special at E. Hayes & Sons hardware store in Invercargill, NZ

Munro Special at E. Hayes & Sons hardware store in Invercargill, NZ

Here are the source links: and here: and here: and here:


Laurence Tureaud

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on May 8, 2009 by badassmofos

a.k.a. Mr. T

Mister T!

"When I was growing up, my family was so poor we couldn't afford to pay attention."

Mr. T was born Laurence Tureaud in Chicago.  He was the second youngest child in a family of twelve children.  His father left when Laurence was 5, and his mother raised the family on a $87 a month budget via welfare in a three-room apartment.  Mr. T’s brothers encouraged him to build up his body in order to survive in the area.  He has commented, “If you think I’m big, you should see my brothers!”

Laurence attended Paul Lawrence Dunbar Vocational Career Academy, where he played football, wrestled, and studied martial arts.  He won a scholarship to Prairie View A&M University, but was thrown out after a year (probably for being too bad-ass).  He attended other small Chicago area colleges on athletic scholarships.  After leaving school, Laurence became a military policeman in the U.S. Army

A serious T

"As a kid, I got three meals a day. Oatmeal, miss-a-meal, and no meal."

He worked as a club bouncer after he returned from the army.  It was at this time that he created the “Mr. T” persona.  His wearing of gold chains and other jewelry was the often result of customers leaving them behind after a fight.  Mr. T wore their jewelry as he stood out front.  If a customer came back, their item(s) was readily visible and available with any further confrontations.  Often, these former customers — scared sh!tless — didn’t return.  Mr. T thus built up a large gold collection and earned a bad-ass reputation.

Mr. T managed eventually to parlay his job as a bouncer into a career as a bodyguard to the stars that lasted almost ten years.  He protected well-known personalities like Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross.  He also protected boxers like Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, and Joe Frazier. He charged approximately $3,000 per day.  His business card read, “Next to God, there is no greater protector than I.”  Mr. T claimed that he never lost a client, saying “I got hurt worse growing up in the ghetto than working as a bodyguard.”

While reading National Geographic, Mr. T first noticed the unusual hairstyle, for which he is now famous, on a Mandinka warrior. He decided that adoption of the style would be a powerful statement about his African origin.  It was a more permanent visual signature than his gold.  His ultra-sonic cleaned jewelry, at the time, was worth about $300,000 and took him about an hour to put on.  Occasionally, he would sleep with the heavy neck chains and bracelets on, “to see how my ancestors, who were slaves, felt.”

Rocky vs. Clubber

Try a breath mint, fool!

In 1980, Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while taking part in NBC show “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition (he won America’s Toughest Bouncer twice).  His role in Rocky III was originally intended as just a few lines …but that’s not how he rolls.  His catchphrase comes from the film, in which he played the boxer Clubber Lang. When asked if he hated Rocky, he replied “No. I don’t hate Balboa, but I pity the fool.”


A Mister T cartoon premiered in 1983 on NBC.  It starred Mr. T as the owner of a gym where he helped kids train.  These kids would, in turn, “help” Mr. T solve mysteries and fight crime.  Thirty ass-kicking episodes were produced.  Mr. T also had cereal & a whole brunch of crap made in his image.  The whole world loved T.


"Cookies taste good stored in my head, fool!"

He made a motivational video called Be Somebody… or Be Somebody’s Fool! in 1984.  He gives helpful advice to children throughout the video.  He teaches them how to understand and appreciate their origins, how to control their anger, and how to deal with peer pressure.  He also teaches kids how to dress fashionably(?) without buying designer labels and how to make tripping up look like break-dancing.

Mr. T Breakin'

The video is roughly an hour long.  It contains 30 minutes of songs and raps by Mr. T, sometimes with children.  He sings “Treat Your Mother Right (Treat Her Right).”  He also raps about growing up in the ghetto and praising God.  The raps in this video were written by Ice T.  Imagine the awesomeness of the meeting of the great T minds…

Album Cover

That same year he released Mr. T’s Commandments, a related rap album. Also in 1984, he starred in the film, The Toughest Man in the World. Bad-asses aren’t lazy.  Unlike a lot of celebrities, Mr. T was quite conscious of being a positive role model for the millions of children who admired him: he never drank, smoked, or took drugs of any kind. He turned down acting roles that cast him as the villain or as overtly sexy.

Mr. T entered the world of professional wrestling in 1985.  He was Hulk Hogan’s tag-team partner at the first WrestleMania.  Unfortunately, the main event was almost ruined because when he arrived, security would not let his entourage into the building.

In The A-Team, he played Sergeant Bosco “B.A.” Baracus (B.A. is an abbreviation of “Bad Attitude” as well as “Bosco Albert”).  When asked at a press conference whether he was as stupid as B.A. Baracus, he observed quietly, “It takes a smart guy to play dumb.”  Mr. T was once reported to be earning around $80,000 a week for his role in The A-Team and getting $15,000 for personal appearances.  However, by the end of the 1990s, he was appearing only in the occasional commercial, largely because of health problems (In 1995, he was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma).  Don’t worry.  Mr. T beat cancer, like many other suckers who jibber-jabber, in 2001 at age 49.

T's got nuts!!He has appeared in commercials for MCI’s 1-800-COLLECT collect-call service and on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  He has also appeared in a slew more commercials, including the 2007 U.K. campaign advertising the chocolate bar, Snickers, with the slogan “Get Some Nuts!”

...I actually have one of these

I actually have one of these. Yep, I thought (and still do) that Mr. T is bad-ass.

Mr. T didn’t invest his money unwisely like other folks such as MC Hammer.  He splits his time between his suburban Chicago home and a 20-acre ranch in the foothills near Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he spends most of his summers.  In 2005, Mr. T stated that he would never wear his chains (albeit in commercials) again.  He arrived at this decision after seeing the effects of Hurricane Katrina.  He has donated a lot of money over his lifetime to charities and his family.

“I use my celebrity status to inspire someone, to give them hope.  I tell them where I grew up—on the South Side of Chicago.  I tell them how I was born and raised in the ghetto, but the ghetto wasn’t born and raised in me.  About how I loved and respected my mother, how my mother used to teach us to bless our food, and reminded us to be thankful for what we had.  She said if you can appreciate what little you have, God will give you more.  And that’s what I think happened when I look back on my life.”


How can you not love Mr. T?  Christ, he was voted by a BBC-run poll as the fourth most influential American in history, behind Homer Simpson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King!

Here are the source links: and here: and here: and vh1’s bio (they get squirrelly when it comes to linking).

Jim Thorpe

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on May 2, 2009 by badassmofos


James Francis “Jim” Thorpe was born in 1887 in a one-room cabin near Prague, Oklahoma. There is much confusion on the exact date. He was born to Hiram Thorpe, a farmer, and Mary James, a Pottawatomie Indian and descendant of the last great Sauk and Fox chief Black Hawk, a noted warrior and athlete.  His Indian name, Wa-Tho-Huk, translated to “Bright Path”, something that Thorpe definitely had ahead of him.

As a child, the rambunctious Thorpe became his athletic father’s protege, at times running 20 miles home from school. “I never was content,” he said, “unless I was trying my skill in some game against my fellow playmates or testing my endurance and wits against some member of the animal kingdom.”

Thorpe reportedly began his athletic career at Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1907, when he walked past the the field where the varsity track team is practicing the high jump. Thorpe shyly asks if he can have a try at clearing the bar, which is set at five foot nine. The guys on the track team, snickering, say “Sure kid, try it.” He set the school’s record in clad in heavy overalls and work boots. In 1909, he left school to play baseball for two years before returning to play football, baseball, and basketball. Thorpe gained nationwide attention for the first time in 1911. As a running back, defensive back, placekicker, and punter for his school’s football team, Thorpe scored all of his team’s points — four field goals and a touchdown—in an 18–15 upset of Harvard. His team finished the season 11–1. Bored (being a bad-ass), he trained for the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in track.


At the 1912 Olympics, he won the pentathlon and decathlon by huge margins, setting world records in both events. His records stood for decades. King Gustav V of Sweden, presented Thorpe with his gold medals for both accomplishments. Before Thorpe could walk away, the king grabbed his hand and declared “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe replied simply “Thanks King.” Unfortunately, some d@uche-bag reporter revealed his two years of semi-professional baseball. Thorpe was stripped of his medals.


In his last college season, Thorpe scored 198 points and was voted first-string, All-American halfback. That 1912 record included a 27–6 victory over Army. During that game, future President Dwight Eisenhower injured his knee while trying to tackle Thorpe. Eisenhower recalled of Thorpe in a 1961 speech, “Here and there, there are some people who are supremely endowed. My memory goes back to Jim Thorpe. He never practiced in his life, and he could do anything better than any other football player I ever saw.” Thorpe was awarded All-American honors in both 1911 and 1912.

Once out of school, he signed to play baseball with the National League Champion New York Giants. From 1913 to 1929, he usually switched sports each season from baseball to football, which he played professionally until he was 41 years old.

Football was not as popular as baseball back then, but Thorpe helped make it the wildly popular sport it is today and became the first president of the new American Professional Football Association (later the National Football League–NFL).

The Depression proved a hard time for Thorpe. He could not afford to buy a ticket to the 1932 Olympic games. When he was invited to sit in the presidential box, a crowd of 105,000 stood to cheer him. 30 years after his death, Thorpe was also given back his Olympic medals (his relatives got ’em) and his name was reentered into the record books.

Two monumental honors were bestowed unto Thorpe in 1950, when he was named “the greatest American football player” and the “greatest overall male athlete” by the Associated Press.

wheaties box featuring thorpe

Thorpe is considered the greatest athlete of the 20th century. Period. A major motion picture, several books, stamps, awards, and a borough in Carbon County, Pennsylvania were created and/or named in his honor. Hell, he got a Wheaties’ box to boot! The bad-ass of cereals!!

Here are the source links: and here: and here:

Willis Reed

Posted in Bad-ass Dudes on May 2, 2009 by badassmofos


Willis Reed was born on June 25, 1942, in Hico, Louisiana.  A place so tiny that he once told Pro Basketball Illustrated, “They don’t even have a population.”  Reed, however, was far from tiny.  Reed began playing basketball as a 6’2″ eighth-grader.  After enjoying great success in high school, he went to nearby Grambling State University, an all-black school famous for its football teams.

He ended up playing b-ball at Grambling, where he amassed 2,280 career points, averaged 26.6 points and 21.3 rebounds during his senior year, and led the school to one NAIA title and three Southwestern Athletic Conference Championships.  The 6’10”, 240-pound Reed was eventually drafted 10th overall by the Knicks in 1964, where he quickly established himself as a fierce, dominating and physical force on both ends of the floor.

Reed made an immediate impact with the Knicks.  In March 1965 he scored 46 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, the second highest single-game total ever by a Knicks rookie.  For the season, he ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring (19.5 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (14.7 rebounds per game).  He also began his string of All-Star appearances and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year.

Willis has got a lot of balls!

Willis has got a lot of balls.

In the first four games of the 70’s Finals against the formidable Los Angeles Lakers, Reed had scored 37, 29, 38 and 23 points, respectively, while averaging 15 rebounds.  In the fourth quarter of Game 5, he sustained a deep thigh injury.  The Knicks managed to survive that encounter, but were demolished by the Lakers in Game 6.

The seventh game of the 1970 Knicks-Lakers Finals was one of the greatest games ever — not just in the NBA Finals, not just in hoops, but in sports history.  Willis Reed’s dramatic entrance was a big reason why.  At 7:34 p.m., Reed, the soul of the Knicks, defied doctor’s advice & limped onto the court.  Bad-asses defy stuff.  The crowd went wild, and his teammates’ confidence returned with a vengeance.  Reed somehow managed to outjump Wilt Chamberlain on the opening tip, then scored the game’s first basket on a shot from the top of the key.  He then scored the second New York basket from 20 feet out.

willis-reed-limpNew York’s Bill Bradley recalled Game 7, in an article in The New York Times: “We left the locker room for the warm-ups not knowing if Willis was going to come out or not.”  Said Walt Frazier, “‘When he did that (emerged from the tunnel), we said, ‘Yeah, the captain is ready.'”  After Reed scored those first two buckets, Bradley recalled “At that point, the whole team had been lifted several levels.”  Willis wouldn’t score again, but he hobbled up and down the court for 27 minutes and helped hold Wilt Chamberlain to only 21 points.  Frazier did the rest, scoring 37 points in the Knicks rout and coming up with some decent hip-hop verbiage to sum it all up: “Willis provided the inspiration, I provided the devastation.”

Big bad-asses need big bad-ass boxes of Wheaties!

Big bad-asses need big bad-ass boxes of Wheaties!

For all his achievements, Reed was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.  He is widely considered as one of the greatest Knicks ever, with the likes of Walt Frazier and Patrick Ewing.  In a 1997 poll entitled the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, Reed was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

He is currently the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the New Orleans Hornets.

Here are the source links: and here: and here: and here: