The Peasant Soldier Who Became Emperor

Not every athlete in history wants to be one. Some feel like they have a more important calling and even though their natural ability could see them become superstars, some athletes just want a different life for themselves.

Does this make them any less awesome? Hell no, which is why we’d like to introduce you to Maximinus Thrax, the Emperor who could have been the greatest athlete in history. If he stopped elbow-dropping soldiers long enough to do anything but tear out throats.

Now you may think “Emperor of Rome” is a way better career option than superstar athlete; however, you have to realize that Emperors in Thrax’s time had a life expectancy shorter than a soldier on the front line, which is why Thrax, being awesome, was both an Emperor and a soldier on the front line at the same time.

Most, if not all of Maximinus’ feats of athletic skill stem directly from his massive size. Historical accounts put Maximinus at 8’6″, a figure modern historians have contested due to it being simply too unbelievable. Obviously historians don’t read this site where we show that stuff like this happens in history all the damn time. Though we’ll likely never be able to put an exact figure on his height, Roman scholars agreed that Maximinus was “pants-$#!++ingly huge” and that no parallel could be drawn between him and any athlete of Greek or Roman history. This description puts Maximinus on par with legendary wrestler Milo of Croton, a man so huge he could powerbomb bulls.

As mentioned, Thrax’s interests were almost entirely murder-based and sport was of little, if any concern to him…which didn’t stop him whupping crates of ass at it. History states that prior to being a soldier in the Roman army, Thrax was little more than a humble shepherd who presumably sheared sheep by punching the wool off them. However, he came to the attention of the young Emperor Septimius Severus when he was seen in a wrestling competition fighting seven people at once.

At the sight of a man twice the size of everyone in his immediate vicinity shattering shin bones like cheap plywood, Severus decided it was in his best interests to immediately put Thrax on the payroll.

Thrax, keen to impress the Emperor reportedly engaged in a series of strength feats to prove his worth. Among these were him lifting a bull and waving it around and pulling a chariot that two horses could not. He rounded it off by beating the Emperor himself in a foot race, while the Emperor was on a horse. This alone would suggest that with, well, any effort whatsoever, Thrax could have been an athlete of epic proportions, literally. However, he opted for the military career.

Almost as soon as he was a military man, Thrax quickly established himself as one of the craziest SOBs history had ever seen and his battlefield exploits and brutality were widely shared. Because when you stand three heads taller than everyone else on the battlefield, you have to go hard or go home. Again, nothing Thrax did could be considered in any way a form of sport, unless you count stabbing of course, but his sheer athleticism and determination is what gets him a mention here.

When he became emperor, rather than go back to Rome, he stayed on the frontline and immediately doubled the pay of soldiers in Rome. In fact, in his entire career as Emperor, Thrax never once set foot in the capital of the empire he was ruling; he liked stabbing dudes that much. Oh yeah, though his exploits were impressive and he was liked by many of his soldiers, Thrax was just too metal for Rome and he was eventually killed in part due to his brutality. Which is sad, because if he’d become an athlete instead, he would have had just as much respect and power and he would have been able to stab people whenever he wanted without consequence.

When the Roman senate grew sick of their Emperor Giant steamrolling the land, their assassins had to stab him to death in his sleep, because they had no hope of ever getting anywhere near his vital organs when he was conscious.

When it really comes down to it, Maximinus Thrax was a man who was presented with two choices in life. He could have easily become an athlete or a soldier. Maximinus ultimately chose the tougher path, the path that would see his body and limits tested on a daily basis. And in the end, that’s what real athletes do, they choose the harder path, not because it’s more rewarding, but because it’s there and it needs to have its ass kicked.

Gama was The Shadow to Bruce Lee's Batman

Gama was The Shadow to Bruce Lee’s Batman.

Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked, Toptenz and Gunaxin. 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.

We're just surprised that when he died, he didn't choke Hades into submission.

We’re just surprised that when he died, he didn’t choke Hades into submission.

Not every ass-kicker of antiquity is a wrestler, but the ones who are will stomp your face into raw subatomic particulate, which then, over the course of billions of years, will break down, compress, and reform in a giant bang to one day become your face again. So no harm, no foul! Check out prime examples The Great Gama and Milo of Croton.

More from Karl Smallwood

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