Breaking down the manliest stories of the United States of America.
Stephen Walkiewicz 1 / 8
Red, White, and Blue
From the frontier of the New World to the hazards of space, the American story is of one of struggle and perseverance punctuated by amazing acts of daring. We bring you stories of men who stood out from all the rest—because they had the balls to beat the odds. <p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/fittest-americans-of-al... target="_blank"><em><strong>The Fittest Americans of All-Time>>></em></strong></a>
Sitting Bull Redefines the Meaning of Peace Pipe
He counted his first coup at age 14 (a mark of honor and bravery in battle), and lead the Lakota Sioux against American soldiers for years, instilling fear and reverence in his enemies. He was the paragon of manliness in an age fraught with war and treachery, and was famous for his unceasing well-spring of bravery. In 1872, in the midst of battle with American soldiers at Yellowstone River, he lead a few of his fellow warriors out between the lines; they sat down in a circle ignoring the crossfire and rain of bullets and pulled out a pipe. Leisurely loading the pipe with tobacco, they smoked the whole thing to the utter disbelief of the soldiers in heated combat around them. When they finished, they packed up the pipe and strolled back to the Lakota lines, as if they’d just had the loveliest picnic.
One if the most awesome middle fingers ever thrown in battle.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/work-out-like-a-warrior" target="_blank"><em><strong>Work Out Like a Warrior>>></em></strong></a></p>
Teddy Roosevelt: The Bullet Stops Here
Next time you’re whining about a <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/topics/health">shin splint or nursing a sore back</a>, think about this one. While campaigning in Milwaukee for a third term of the presidency in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot in the chest by John Schrank, an unemployed New York saloon keeper bent on keeping the bull moose out of the oval office. What did the man with the big stick do? He went on to give his speech anyway, mortality be damned. After delivering a windy one-hour oratory, Roosevelt pulled the shredded bloody manuscript from his coat pocket and held it up to the crowd, yelling, “You see! It takes more than a bullet to kill a bull moose!” Only then did he let his aids take him to the hospital. The bullet was blunted by the voluminous speech wrapped up in Roosevelt’s pocket and turned out not to be life threatening. Nonetheless, we give this one the presidential award for working through the pain. <p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/injury-free-train-through-t... target="_blank"><em><strong>Injury-Free: Train Through the Pain>>></em></strong></a></p>
Michael Jordan: 'The Flu Game'
1997, the <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/search/apachesolr_search/basketball" target="_blank">NBA</a> Finals, the Bulls and the Jazz were tied 2-2 with the Jazz gaining momentum on the Bulls. The night before Game 5, Jordan was found in his hotel room curled up in the fetal position, delirious and drenched with sweat, possibly sick with the flu or food poisoning. It seemed impossible that he would be able to stand up, let alone walk out onto the court. Yet somehow the ghostly and weakened Jordan dragged himself to the game. With intermittent bursts of godlike energy and crippling spells of enfeeblement, Jordan played through his sickness to lead the Bulls to victory. He stunned everyone with his indomitable perseverance in the face of the odds, forever enshrining himself as a basketball immortal and manly hero for the ages.
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/sports/most-memorable-nba-finals-game... target="_blank"><em><strong>The Most Memorable NBA Finals Games of the Millennium>>></em></strong></a></p>
The Moon Landing
Sure, the moon landing is probably one of the most overrecycled and clichéd rosy moments in history (if you’re not a Soviet cosmonaut that is), but think about it this way: You’re stuffed into what’s basically a ballistic missile, rocketed off the planet insanely fast—the chance of your ship exploding just a teeny-weeny IT error away, and then three days later after crossing your fingers in the dead cold of space, you get out of an aluminum teapot and step onto a lifeless space rock. For crying out loud, there could have been space ghosts from a dead alien race or Soviet commandos waiting in the lunar shadows. It takes some balls to go into the unknown, and that’s why Armstrong takes his place among the manliest of the ages (and Buzz, too).
<p><a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/leisure/entertainment/fittest-americans-of-al... target="_blank"><em><strong>The Fittest Americans of All-Time>>></em></strong></a></p>
Jackie Robinson Being Himself
The manly story: Jackie Robinson's life.<p> In the era of Jim Crow where institutionalized segregation was the norm, he braved the odds in the face of danger. From humble beginnings as a sharecropper's child, he rose to become the first African American pro <a href="http://www.mensfitness.com/search/apachesolr_search/baseball" target="_blank">baseball</a> player since MLB had been officially segregated in the late-19th century. Taking the first step on the moon might take true grit, but try taking the first step into a world where everyone wants you dead or in chains. When Robinson took those first steps on Ebbets Field in 1947, he broke the race barrier for all American athletics, and possibly fed a crucial flame to the Civil Rights movement. Despite the abuse of constant racial slurs and threats against his life, he continued to sport the Dodgers uniform, not only persevering but also succeeding, earning the Rookie of the Year Award (which he didn't get until 1949).
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He was born into slavery, but was damned if he and his family would die in it. In the midst of the Civil War in 1862, Robert Smalls finally found a small window of escape. He'd been "leased out" by his master in Charleston, SC, working the docks and finally earning the right to pilot the <em>CSS Planter</em>, a Confederate military ship. One night, the crew of the <em>Planter</em> spent the night on shore, leaving the ship completely empty. Smalls jumped at the opportunity. Dressed like the <em> Planter's</em> captain, he brought his family and friends on board and sailed off into the night. Having studied the Confederate security procedures for months while working as the ship's pilot, he knew all the right hand signals and safely made it past the rebel warships. The dupe a success, he sailed out to the Union blockade and freedom. Later in life, Smalls solidified his rank of manly badass by becoming a U.S. Representative, firmly turning the tables on injustice.
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The Guy Who Cut His Arm Off
What makes a man? Aron Ralston's answer: chutzpah and determination in the face of certain annihilation. In 2003, Ralston's solo manventure in the Utah desert turned ugly when a 800-pound rock fell on his right arm, trapping him. For five days he nursed what few supplies he had until he was completely out of food and water. Facing certain death yet determined to live, he pulled out his trusty pocket knife and began cutting off his own arm—one ligament, muscle, and bone at a time. A MacGyver operation and an impromptu tourniquet later, he rappeled down the canyon wall with a single arm and a bloody stump, only to begin a long and grueling march through the scorching desert to rescue. Ralston one, natural selection zero.
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