Top 10 Historic People Who May Have Been Superheroes

Credits: Rebecca Brayton Thomas Robinson

Script written by Michael Wynands

These historical figures showed almost superhuman traits. Amelia Aerhart, Miyamoto Musashi, and Jesse Owens are just a few people throughout history that have demonstrated amazing abilities and accomplishments. WatchMojo counts down the top people in history who were probably superheroes.

Special thanks to our user christo for suggesting this list! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Historic%20People%20Who%20May%20Have%20Been%20Super%20Heroes

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Transcript
Script written by Michael Wynands

Top 10 Historic People Who May Have Been Superheroes


The history of humanity has been shaped by incredible human beings doing unbelievable things. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Historic People Who May Have Been Superheroes.



For this list, we’re looking at individuals throughout history who have demonstrated unbelievable skills and abilities or achieved accomplishments beyond those of any typical person. These incredible individuals have earned themselves a place in the history books, and could very well have been real life superheroes.



#10: Angus MacAskill



Super Size & Super Strength

At 7 feet 9 inches, MacAskill was the tallest “natural giant” in recorded history. Although the tallest man, Robert Wadlow, and woman, Zeng Jinglian, were well over 8 feet, both were diagnosed with gigantism, a hormonal condition. MacAskill’s proportions were consistent with the average man - just massive. Born in Scotland in 1825, his family moved to Nova Scotia when he was a child. He was of normal height until he hit puberty. As an adult, he weighed an estimated 425 lbs and was quite healthy. Among the strongest men in history, he reportedly lifted a 2,800-pound anchor to chest height and could tip over a two-ton boat to drain it of bilge water.



#9: Amelia Earhart


Courage & Ambition

Some heroes are super as a result of uncommon courage, willpower, and single-minded commitment to their goals. Amelia Earhart is the most famous and accomplished aviatrix of the 20th Century. Just by virtue of her uncompromising pioneering spirit in a male dominated world, she achieved Agent Peggy Carter levels of badassery and respect. But she didn’t simply fly planes - she broke records, both in female aviation and aviation… period. She set the speed record for 100km or 62 miles, and was the first person to pilot an autogyro across America. She pushed the boundaries of aviation and had she completed her final journey, it would’ve been the longest of its kind the world had ever seen.


#8: Miyamoto Musashi


Master Swordsman

Separating fact from fiction can be tough when it comes to the life of this lone samurai or “Rōnin.” His fame during his own lifetime, from about 1584 - 1645, was so great that it inspired artists and writers to create fictionalized accounts of his exploits, turning him into a “living legend.” But a few things are considered fact. He was one of the greatest swordsman to ever live, and was unparalleled in his two sword technique. He won a record breaking 60 duels. Despite his many activities, he died in his 60s of natural causes, cementing his reputation as an “invincible” swordfighter. His philosophical and martial arts-based “Book of Five Rings” is still studied today.


#7: Masutatsu Ōyama [aka Mas Oyama]


Super Strength & Super Stamina

Born Choi Yeong-eui in Korea under Japanese occupation in 1923, Mas Oyama was a master martial artist, and founded the influential Kyokushin style of karate. He credits Musashi’s “The Book of Five Rings” as his greatest inspiration. Oyama earned his nickname, “The Godhand” with his “one punch - certain kill” technique, which is... exactly what it sounds like. He fought bulls to the death barehanded, or, as happened on some occasions, with a single punch to the face. He also invented the 100-man Kumite, which consisted of one hundred 2 minute rounds of sparring. He once performed this feat three times back to back over three consecutive days - a truly inhuman showing of endurance.



#6: Jesse Owens


Super Speed

Mankind may never run as fast as The Flash, but this track and field star proved man capable of running much faster than ever previously imagined. At the 1935 Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jesse Owens broke three world records and tied a fourth one… in less than an hour. This achievement has been dubbed the “the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport.” At the 1936 Summer Olympic games, he won gold in 100 meters, 200 meters, long jump, and the 4 × 100 meter relay. Held in Berlin, these Olympic games were viewed by Hitler as an opportunity to showcase Aryan supremacy - any hopes of which the African American Jesse Owens certainly dashed.



#5: Theodore Roosevelt


Various Superhuman Qualities & Endeavors

Born a sickly asthmatic child, he became one of the most accomplished men in American history, not to mention President of the United States. A jiu-jitsu and boxing practitioner, Theodore Roosevelt was also a respected author and scholar. As Police Commissioner in NYC, he went undercover as a beat cop to weed out corruption. He personally led the charge at the Battle of Kettle Hill. He was shot in the chest while campaigning, and still gave his scheduled 90 minute speech. His mediation of the treaty to end the Russo-Japanese War earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. And he once rode 100 miles on horseback, at the age of 51... just to prove a point.




#4: Louis Cyr


Super Strength

Canadians must be feeding their kids right, because this is the second famous strongman to make our list who grew up in the Great White North. A French Canadian from Quebec, Louis Cyr is known as “the strongest man ever to have lived.” Some modern world champion weightlifters may claim to have him beat, but since he lived 1863 to 1912, it’s hard to judge fairly. What we can say is that his most staggering feats of strength include backlifting between an estimated 4,337lbs and 6,678lbs (based on varying accounts), and lifting 500 lbs with a single finger. He worked as a cop for 2 years. Talk about “striking fear in the hearts of criminals.”




#3: Albert Einstein


Super Genius

Not every superhuman ability is physical in nature. There have been a number of super geniuses over the course of history. Sir Isaac Newton gave us our understanding of gravity and the three “Laws of Motion,” which would function as the governing rules of our universe until Einstein presented his theory of relativity. Comparing the relative intelligence of geniuses from different lifetimes achieves very little. Einstein isn’t necessarily more of a super genius than Newton, but there’s no denying his role as the most iconic super genius, whose cognitive abilities some have called - superhuman. An autopsy of his brain revealed a number of irregularities to support that idea.





#2: Bruce Lee


Super Reflexes & Super Strength

The untimely demise of Bruce Lee meant that the world never got to see him realize his full potential - in film, pop culture, or martial arts. But in his relatively short life, Lee, a prodigy of the legendary martial arts master Yip Man, proved himself an extraordinary fighter, and truly one of a kind. His strength and reflexes seemingly exceeded human standards. He could reportedly snatch grains of rice out of the air with chopsticks. Cameramen complained that he moved too fast for traditional cameras. His reputed two-fingered push-ups, one armed pull ups, and “dragon flag” core exercise could break even the most serious of fitness buffs. His one inch punch… sure looks superhuman.





Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.





Rathakrishnan Velu [aka King Tooth]

Super Strength



Leonardo da Vinci

Super Genius & Super Creativity





Muhammad Ali

Super Speed & Reflexes




#1: Jim Thorpe


Super Athlete

He might be exactly what scientists in “Captain America” were aiming for - the perfect physical specimen. Jim Thorpe performed like a superhuman, but he wasn’t created in a lab. Born near Prague, Oklahoma, to parents of Native American and European ancestry, in the Sac and Fox Nation, he is considered one of history’s greatest athletes, and undeniably, its most versatile. In 1950, the Associated Press named him the greatest athlete of the first half of 20th Century. At the turn of the 21st century, ABC Sports declared that to still hold true. In his lifetime, Thorpe played football at the college and professional level, as well as baseball and basketball professionally. In 1912, he won two gold medals in Track and Field.
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