George Eyser was a gymnast from the early part of the 1900s. Although gymnasts aren’t usually considered manly, anyone who can throw his body 20 feet into the air and do a bunch of sweet backflips before kissing the ground with his tiny, cat-like feet is aces in our books. Of all the gymnasts in history, Eyser probably stands out as one of the best–why? Because Eyser competed with a wooden leg.
After hearing that we understand if your first question is, how did he lose his leg? While little is known about Eyser’s early life we do know that he was born in Germany and at some point in his childhood his family emigrated to the United States and he lost the majority of his leg when a train ran over it. When an eighty ton machine powered by the burning corpses of dinosaurs cutting off your goddamn leg is little more than a footnote on your Wikipedia entry, you know that your life is destined for greatness.
Now for most people losing a limb is a life-changing event. However, for Eyser, losing his leg just meant that kicking ass was way easier, since he now had a bitchin’ wooden prosthesis that doubled as a rudimentary clubbing device. Despite having his leg designed and fitted over a century ago, when prosthetic technology was a shadow of what it is today, Eyser’s new, more sturdy limb was sufficiently awesome enough to allow Eyser to run, jump and generally tell life to kiss his increasingly sculpted ass.
Eyser eventually decided that he wanted to compete for the country that had given him a home, and since being a badass wasn’t an Olympic event yet, he set his sights on a gymnastics medal. Now normally training for a gymnastics medal, or indeed any Olympic medal usually involves a lifetime of training and hard work. But come on, Eyser hadn’t let a train stop him from being an athlete, it’s not like he was going to let being 30 years old stop him, was it? We’re really starting to think Eyser’s leg leapt off of his body on its own to avoid all the hard work it was going to be put through.
But yes, at the ripe old age of 33, a veritable pensioner in athletic terms, Eyser entered the Olympics just to show all those whippersnappers how a man makes love to gravity. Now his first few competitions went about as well as you’d expect from a guy who had to hop in the shower. He got nowhere near the top spots in any event he entered and he even came dead last in the triathlon event he entered because doing backflips for four hours straight wasn’t hard enough already. However, we’d really like to stress the point that he had one less leg than everyone else competing. The fact he was able to run the 100-yard dash in under 16 seconds with a chunk of wood instead of an actual human leg should make everyone reading this do a dropkick out of respect.
However, it’s what George did in his second set of competition that catapulted him into the history books. Presumably just to prove that everyone with two legs was living life on easy mode, he went right ahead and won six medals in one day. We’d like to point out that three of those medals were gold. George’s gold medals were in the horse vault (which was done without a springboard), the parallel bars and the rope climb. All of which are events that you’ll notice are made dramatically easier when you’re able to scissor-kick your opponents without giving them splinters.
Just for a second picture a man with a wooden leg and a German accent running at a pommel horse and throwing himself ten feet through the air before landing like such an OG he was immediately given a gold medal. That’s not a gold medal-winning gymnastic performance, that’s the cure for eye cancer in front-flip form.
But here’s the best part, George Eyser is the first person in history to compete in an Olympic event with a prosthetic limb: a record he held for a century until a swimmer with a prosthetic limb competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. However, that swimmer didn’t win a medal, which means that Eyser is the only athlete in history to win an Olympic medal with a prosthetic limb, ever. And he won six of them in one day. The only explanation we can think of is that George’s leg was carved from a tree that was struck by lightning made of middle fingers.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer that you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked.com, Toptenz.net and Gunaxin.com you should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl also documented The Most Hilarious Overreactions to Scary Movies. For a more contemporary ass-kicking athlete, check out Karl’s account of the five-decades-and-counting winning streak enjoyed by The Great Gama.