Movie superheroes speak to the part of every person who wishes they were special in some way, which is pretty much most of us. Since childhood you have probably watched movies or read books about the amazing feats of characters penned by imaginative authors like Stan Lee and Jerry Siegel. While we were busy watching them there were those who were actually investing time and energy into developing their own superpowers.
Over the years stories have surfaced about strange people who have real life superpowers. Some of them were born with them. They are the real life X-men and women who have experienced some kind of genetic mutation that allows them to perform intriguing, amazing or just downright odd feats. Then there are those who have developed their powers through training the mind, following the guidance of masters, or by pushing their physical body to the limit with extreme training regimes.
Some of these folks are amazing, some of them would probably scare young kids, and others have used their gifts to achieve business, movie or stage success.
Like the X-Men super villain Magneto, Liew Thow Lin has the gift of magnetism, or more specifically, suction. To audiences who have come to see the 80 year old Malaysian man in action it appears as if he can magnetize metal objects to his body. He has been able to draw of total of 36 kilograms worth of metal objects, of no more than 2 kilograms each, on to his skin, where it sticks. He has even been able to pull a car towards him. It turns out that his skin is not actually magnetic, but has rare suctioning properties, that make it appear as if objects are being magnetized to him. Three of his grandchildren have inherited his traits.
Ultra-endurance phenomenon Dean Karnazes astounded the masses by running 50 marathons in 50 states on 50 consecutive days in 2006. Amongst his other endurance feats he has also run 350 kilometers non-stop, going without three nights worth of sleep. As a young kindergartner Karnazes would run home from school and eventually took up running because it was fun. According to the TV show Stan Lee’s Superhumans, his ability to keep running comes as a result of the body being able to reduce the build-up of lactic acid over time. Lactic acid is what gives you the burn sensation when you run or exercise vigorously.
When Rathakrishnan Velu met an Indian guru as a teenager, the guru taught him how to channel all his power to one body part. As a result this man has jaws of steel. These powerful teeth of his were used to break a world record when he pulled a long 297 ton train a distance of 2.8 meters at Kuala Lumpur’s Railway station in Malaysia.
He claims that some of this superpower comes from his dedicated practice to an Indian meditation. This is combined with a training regime that includes waking up at 4:40 am, doing jaw exercises, lifting weights and running for at least 25 kilometers. He is also a strict vegetarian, which matters if you believe you need to pump your body full of meat protein to achieve this.
Most of us have to train hard in the gym for hours on end in order to get ripped. In 1999 in Germany a boy, Liam Hoekstra, was born with the body of a bodybuilder and it left doctors scratching their heads. By the age of 4 he was able to lift weight six times as heavy as his contemporaries. The cause of his superhuman abilities turns out to be a genetic mutation that changes the way that muscles grow and is something that has been made use of to produce super strong cattle. If you see an extraordinarily ripped 15 year old, check for signs of steroids, and if they pass the test you may have just discovered Das Uberboy. It remains to be seen how this mutation will affect the young man as he ages, but it goes without saying that scientists will be watching him closely.
If mothers of the world continues to give birth to kids like Natasha Demkina, we will no longer need to invest in X-ray machines. She can apparently see into the body of a person and see exactly what is happening to their organs. Since the age of 10 the young girl has been under the scrutiny of skeptics who challenge the idea that she has x-ray vision. The story goes that the local hospital in Saransk, Western Russia, got wind of her abilities and wanted to test her out. She was able to correctly diagnose a number of people and has many supporters, including patients and doctors. Over the years she has been subjected to tests from other groups of people and has had varying levels of success, even causing some folks to have unnecessary operations. Discovery Channel dedicated a whole show to her and showed her identifying a mass on a man’s lung which was later diagnosed as sarcoidus granuloma by another doctor.
With enough practice any one of us could control our body temperature. This has long been written down in yogic wisdom in the form of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, but very few have taken the time, or put in the effort, to accomplish such feats. Wim Hof is one of those rare people to do so and practices a technique called Tummo. In the Arctic Circle temperatures can drop to -20 degrees centigrade, or lower, but this does not stop Hof from attempting shirtless runs across the tundra. He has run a barefoot half marathon across this landscape in only shorts. Other impressive feats include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro over the course of days wearing only shorts, swimming under ice for 66 meters, as well as submerging himself in ice for an hour and 13 minutes.
Zamora The Torture King
Even the toughest of us will reel with pain from time to time. Not so for Tim Cridland who goes by the name Zamora the Torture King for stage shows. Throughout his stage career he has swallowed swords, skewered his body, eaten fire and pounded nails into wood with his bare hands. He claims that he uses the power of the mind to overcome his experiences of pain, something which is very possible. “Everything I’ve done, I’ve trained myself to do” he says. Through years of practice he has tuned into his body and found ways to ignore the pain. He also knows where to insert sharp objects in a way that they produce the least amount of blood possible.
The Man Who Eats Anything
Imagine being able to eat anything that you decided to put in your mouth, and I mean anything. A Cessna airplane is not out of the question for the late Michel Lotito, a French entertainer who had a stomach and intestines with unusually thick lining. It was this lining that allowed him to consume anything that he wanted including glass, rubber and metal. He had a condition known as Pica, which leads to an individual having an appetite for dirt, rocks and metals. He would literally be the kind of house guest who would eat you out of house and home if you invited him over. And it is no joke about the Cessna either. It was one of his most impressive acts and it took him two years to break down and gradually eat each part of it. Between 1959 and 1997 it is estimated that he ate 9 tonnes of metal.
Stephen Wiltshire is an autistic man who produces architectural pictures of whole cities as a result of his uncanny photographic memory. This ability coupled with his intuition for business decisions has lead him to be financially successful as an artist. He can literally remember the smallest of details on the biggest of buildings and recreate them accurately. After one fly over of New York City he sat down and produced the image with all of the buildings in the correct place. After his initial exposure in a 1987 documentary, The Foolish Wise Ones, he connected with mentors who were able to lift him out of obscurity into the public eye. Though a natural, he did study Fine Art at City and Guilds Art College, London. In 2006 he released time lapse Youtube videos showing him creating city landscapes from his memory. According to family he never considered the idea of doing anything other than what he loved.
Javier Botet is a real life fleximan, and recently featured in the Guillermo Del Torro flick, Mama, playing the title role. When he was five years old he was diagnosed with a condition called Marfan syndrome, which causes the afflicted person to be unusually tall with long and thin arms, legs and fingers. It also allows him to contort himself drastically due to the affect on his joints. Some might view it as a deficit but Botet has used it to his advantage in the film industry. There are some who lie further along the spectrum for this condition and can have organ defects in the heart and other organs. If it is a mild case the person can live a healthy life and even make some good moola in the film industry if they are savvy enough.