Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Armless Golfer
Tommy McAuliffe was the 'World Champion Armless Golfer'. Tommy was born in 1893 in Buffalo, New York, the oldest of five children. His arms were amputated after being run over by a train in 1902. He was left with no arms, not even stumps. He learned to write by holding a pencil in his mouth. He was the president of his senior class, attended three years of college, married in 1919, father of four children and grandfather of 16. He became a caddy at a nearby golf course. Using an old discarded club, he learned to play by holding the club between his neck and shoulder. He became so good he won the caddies tournament. After finishing college, Tommy was encouraged by his brother Walter, a professional golfer, to start his own Vaudeville Act in New York City. His "Trick Shot' act became so popular he traveled to all 48 states, all over Canada and Australia with his show. He did golf exhibitions at major golf courses in the U.S. He knew and played golf with Bobby Jones, Gene Sarazen, Walter Hagan, Chick Evans, Tommy Armour, Jim Barnes, Geo Van Elm and Sports Writer O.B. Keller. His low score for 18 holes was 85. His average was 92. Tommy became the "World Champion Armless Golfer."
The First Armless Pilot
Jessica Cox suffered a rare birth defect and was born without any arms. None of the prenatal tests her mother took showed there was anything wrong with her. And yet she was born with this rare congenital disease, but also with a great spirit. The psychology graduate can write, type, drive a car, brush her hair and talk on her phone by simply using her feet. Ms Cox, from Tuscon, Arizona, USA, is also a former dancer and double black belt in Tai Kwon-Do. She has a no-restrictions driving license, she flies planes and she can type 25 words a minute.
The plane she is flying is called an Ercoupe and it is one of the few airplanes to be made and certified without pedals. Without rudder pedals Jessica is free to use her feet as hands. She took three years instead of the usual six months to complete her lightweight aircraft licence, had three flying instructors and practiced 89 hours of flying, becoming the first pilot with no arms.
The Armless Guitar Player
Learning to walk means falling a lot for any child. For Tony Melendez, who was born without arms, it meant falling flat on his face time after time, until he learned to tumble and get back on his feet. That lesson, to keep trying, stuck with him. He wanted to play the guitar, and learned to pluck the strings with his toes. He practiced up to seven hours a day until the result was music. In 1987, when Melendez was 25, he played during Pope John Paul II's visit to Los Angeles, and the pope urged him to “continue giving this hope to all the people.” In response, Melendez has traveled to 40 countries and across the United States as a motivational speaker.
The Armless Fitness Woman
Meet a living inspiration, Barbie Guerra. Barb lost her arms at the age of two in an accident, yet she is a remarkable fitness model.
The Armless Painter
This amazing festive image was painted by an armless thalidomide victim, using his right foot. Peter Longstaff's artwork pieces include flickering candles and another depicts a stag in a magical winter wonderland setting. And as well as teaching himself to paint, the 48-year-old has lived life to the full as a pig farmer, father and youth football coach.
Peter was one of many babies born with deformities in the late 1950s and early 60s when their pregnant mothers were given the drug thalidomide to combat morning sickness.
But as a boy he learned to use his right foot like a right hand and was independent enough to complete main stream schooling growing up on Teesside. Peter said: 'My right foot is like your right hand. I figured out ways of doing things.' He opens doors and turns on light switches standing on one leg, using a mixture of agility and balance. As a teenager he had to endure cruel comments from 'ignorant people' but took it in his stride. His ability to get around between home, studio and sports field is down to an adapted Range Rover, which he steers with a plate under his left foot, but which is otherwise a standard automatic. He was once stopped by a stunned policeman who spotted he had no hands on the wheel - but quickly understood when he opened the door. Peter's artwork was on show at the Royal College of Art in London in 2009.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Armless Motorcycle Rider
A motorcyclist received a caution from police officers in China - for riding with no arms. Officers in Jimo, Shandong province, stopped the motorcycle for being overloaded - but were shocked when they saw the driver, reports the Qilu Evening Post. Liu, 27, lost both arms at the age of seven after an electric shock.
When he was 10, his parents sent him to a local circus to learn skills, and from then on, he trained himself to ride a motorcycle without arms. Liu admitted that he had been riding his adapted motorcycle for 10 years without arms - and he didn't even have a license.
He said the circus where he worked had closed down three years ago and he and two other disabled circus workers had been performing on the streets ever since. Police decided against fining him because he didn't have any money but issued him a serious warning. Liu promised them he would not ride motorbikes again.
The Armless Archer
When Mark Stutzman, of Richland, unzipped his bow case and began assembling his compound bow, it drew a lot of attention from some of the other shooters. There is nothing special about Stutzman's bow, case or the tools he uses to put them together with and nothing extra ordinary about his arrows. What was drawing their attention was that Stutzman, 28, was doing all of this - with his feet. Armless from birth and adopted into a family with seven brothers and sisters, Matt has never let his disability slow him down. He does everything with his feet — eat, drive (non-modified vehicles, even stick shifts), write (more legibly than most people), and punch the keys on his cell phone faster than most people with their fingers. He began getting serious about his archery when he was 16.
Shooting in bigger tournaments has meant learning to adjust to people watching him. His normal shooting position is seated in a chair holding the bow with his right foot. He uses a mechanical release attached to a sling around his right shoulder. To pull the trigger, he uses his jaw. When he shoots in tournaments, he doesn't enter as a disabled shooter. He shoots along with everyone else. His average scores are good enough, he said, that he's a contender for the 2012 Olympic team.
The armless piano player who won China's Got Talent
When Liu Wei first hit the stage on China's Got Talent, you could hear a pin drop, and there wasn't a dry eye in the thousand-strong crowd. Armless pianist Liu Wei, winner of China's Got Talent, plays piano with his toes. Sure, Liu Wei started his run on the show by playing a super sad song on the piano called “Mariage D'amour” by Richard Clayderman. But what actually silenced everyone was that Liu Wei didn't have arms…he played the song with his toes. On Oct. 10, 2010, it was announced, to nobody's surprise, that the Beijing prodigy won the competition, earning him a three-week tour in Las Vegas with Iggy favorite Jolin Tsai. Liu Wei lost both of his arms years ago when he was electrocuted during a game of hide and seek. He said playing piano with his feet was hard at first and it gave him cuts and cramps, but he mastered the instrument over time.
After his first performance he told judges with a winning adorable grin: “There's no rule that says piano can only be played with hands.” And if there was, it's officially broken.
The Street Armless Calligrapher
On May 19, 2010, at noon, an amazing scene on the pedestrian bridge walkway in front of the south entrance to Foxconn Corporation, Shenzhen, captured people's eyes. From Shandong province, an optimistic man with no arms used his feet and wrote down some inspirational words in Chinese calligraphy for the Foxconn employees, to advice them not to do any more foolish things – jumping off buildings and committing suicide. During 2010 there were at least 10 consecutive suicides of Foxconn employees. The armless man wrote, “To brothers and sisters of Foxconn, life is priceless, ought to fulfill filial duty, there is always a way out, harmony relies on oneself”. This man's action soon attracted a number of Foxconn employees who were passing by on their way home from work. Many expressed support and appreciation, some stepped forward asking for the inspirational pieces.
The armless man claimed that a few years ago when he was a chef in Beijing, a gas explosion made him severely disabled. After several surgical procedures, luckily he was able to live. But his parents raised him in many difficulties, in order to fulfill his filial duty, and to carry the load for his parents he practiced hard at writing using his feet. His actions not only motivated many people across the country, but also fully paid for his huge medical bills. Recently he was heartbroken when he heard the news on Foxconn employees' ten suicides. He thought these able young bodies should think about the filial responsibility and social responsibility. He hopes they will not do any more foolish things, heaven never seals off all the exits (天无绝人之路) – there is always a way out.
Kyle Maynard is not your average scholar athlete. Kyle was a top wrestler at his high school and also near the top of his class academically. He also attended the University of Georgia. Why talk with him? Kyle is an inspiration to anyone who ever had a challenge to overcome. Kyle was born without elbows or knees - the result of a rare disorder.
Maynard now works as a speaker for the Washington Speaker's Bureau, specializing in motivational speeches. He is also the author of the memoir No Excuses: The True Story of a Congenital Amputee Who Became a Champion in Wrestling and in Life.
Monday, March 28, 2011
The wrestler with only one leg who became a national champion
Anthony Robles of Arizona State University has only one leg, but that didn't stop him from becoming the national champion in his weight class. Born with one leg, Robles took the 125-pound title with a 7-1 win over defending champion Matt McDonough of Iowa. Robles' three-day performance earned him the Outstanding Wrestler award. He took control in the first period, jumping out to a 7-0 lead with a two-point takedown and two turns that exposed McDonough's shoulders to the mat for five more points. Robles uses his gripping power on those turns. “My tilting is due because I have such a strong grip, and that's because of my crutches,” he said.
The football player with no legs who also became homecoming king
This is not Photoshop. This is Bobby Martin from Dayton Ohio. He was born with no legs and really does play football. He's also the homecoming King.
He campaigned hard for king. He placed ''Bobby Martin 4 Homecoming King" signs all over the school and gave a passionate speech at a rally that ended with him doing rapid-fire pushups that were more like handstands. At least one of his opponents apologized for running against him and even promised to vote for him.
The little girl who had to use a basketball as her prosthetic body
Qian Hongyan, who was forced to use half a basketball as her prosthetic body, inspired millions with her ambition to compete as a swimmer in the 2012 Paralympics in London. In 2000, Qian Hongyan, was injured tragically in a car accident when she was only 3 years old. To insure her survival, the doctors were forced to amputate her legs. Qian's family, living in Zhuangxia, China, was unable to afford modern prosthetics and instead used half a basketball to get around on. Once on the ball she uses two wooden props to help her move around. She struggled to live her life with a basketball as an underprop, 'walking' between school and home by herself. The girl's story is widely reported in the country, and drew the attention of the Ministry of Public Security and China Rehabilitation Research Center.
Qian now has a pair of proper prosthetic legs, but still says she likes to use the basketball from time to time as it is easier for her to get in and out of the pool.
The man who climbed the Great Wall of China
A man who lost his legs in a train accident climbed the Great Wall of China in 2006. Huang Jianming from China's southern city of Shenzhen had both legs amputated in 1994, after he fell out of a speeding train carriage. Measuring 85 centimeters in height and weighing 39 kilograms, Huang calls himself a "half man," since he has become half the size of an average person due to his accident. He climbed the Great Wall for two hours by using the sheer strength of his arms, pushing himself up the cobblestoned steps in front of hundreds of bemused tourists.
The accident totally changed Huang's life. Without legs, his wife deserted him when he lost his livelihood, but the man from China's Sichuan province remained determined to live a normal life. He began practicing calligraphy and became a traveling street artist, roving through more than 20 Chinese cities in ten years.
"I hope when these tourists see me, a half man, climbing the Great Wall and enjoying being a real man, they will think about themselves."
The man who became an acrobat
The remarkable Eli Bowen was born in Ohio on October 14, 1844 as one of ten children. While his siblings were physically average, Eli was born with his disproportional feet attached directly to his pelvis. In essence, Eli Bowen was a man born with feet but no legs.
Despite his physical configuration, or perhaps because of it, Eli strived to live an extraordinary life. He wanted to be an acrobat. Eli learned early to use his arms and hands to compensate for his lack of legs. Eli would hold thick, wooden blocks in his palms and use them as ‘shoes', elevating his torso in order to walk on his hands. As a result of that process as well as steady farm labour Bowen developed enormous strength and even in adulthood he was able to navigate his 140 pound frame anywhere he chose. He started his professional career at the age of 13 in various wagon shows before eventually touring independently, performing in dime museums and finally touring Europe with Barnum and Bailey Circus. He garnered a reputation for being a magnificent and effortless tumbler and acrobat and for his phenomenal feats of strength.
Billed as ‘The Legless Acrobat' Eli Bowen was known for his remarkable tumbling abilities but was applauded internationally for his extraordinary routine known simply as ‘the pole routine'. While Eli stood only twenty-four inches in height he had no reservations about climbing a thirteen foot pole in order to balance on a single hand at its peak. Gripping the pole Eli would stretch his torso straight, parallel to the ground, and spin around the pole. Eli would then hold himself parallel to the pole using only his right arm. The routine not only displayed Bowen's strength, but was also unusually graceful. Soon, Eli Bowen was commanding a salary of over $100 a week. As he grew into adulthood, Eli Bowen also became well known for his handsome looks and, at one point, he was considered by many to be the most handsome man in show business.
The woman who raises 130 Children
55-year-old Xu Yuehua, who lost her legs in a train accident at the age of 13, has spent 37 years raising children in a social welfare institute. She has brought up more than 130 children. She moves without legs by using stools; she spends her days on a pair of small stools, so the children call her “Stool Mama”. Stool Mama feels happy to take care of these children and doesn't regret doing it. Xu Yuehua, orphaned at an early age, devotes herself to raise the children at Xiangtan Social Welfare House, Xiangtan, where she shelters them. It is also the same place that helped her through her difficulties.
The man who became a skateboarder
Italo Romano is a talented skateboarder who has no legs. His life and the way in which he has overcome this major obstacle illustrates how the human mind and consequently the human body can adapt quite well in the face of great adversity.
The photographer who takes pictures of people who stare at him
When Kevin Connolly was ten years old his family took him to Disney World, but for some theme park visitors that day, it was Connolly who quickly became the main attraction.
Born without legs, Connolly was already used to the stares of strangers -- but that moment would help him start to understand that the lens could work in both directions.
On a solo trip to Europe, more than a decade later, he felt a man staring at him. Connolly lifted his camera to his hip, shot pictures of that man. Connolly would repeat that action 32,000 more times during his travels, creating a diverse portfolio of individuals from a broad assortment of countries. He posted some of these images online, under the title "The Rolling Exhibition."
While gratifying artistically, it's also an unsettling position for the 22-year-old Montana State photography student. Connolly has spent most of his life shrugging off the perhaps well-intentioned, but ultimately dismissive, stereotypical role of the "inspiring" physically-challenged individual. A prosthetics manufacturer created a custom body shoe for him that looks like a leather bowl covered on the outside with a rubber tread for traction. Connolly uses the device to protect and cushion his torso during most of his activities.
But Connolly learned something else during his photographic odyssey. Many of the people he met, did not wait for him to explain the reason for the absence of his legs. Instead, they automatically supplied their own narrative, suited to their own environment or personal sensibilities. For example, while traveling in New Zealand a woman asked Connolly if he was the victim of a shark attack. In Romania some people thought he was a beggar; at a bar in Montana a man bought him a beer and thanked him for his service, believing Connolly was a wounded veteran of the Iraq War.
The man with no legs who ran the New York City Marathon
Lance Benson is 36 years old and was born with no legs. Yet he doesn't let that stop him. He competes in sports events by sitting atop a skateboard and using his hands to propel himself. He blazed through the 2005 ING New York City Marathon in just 3 hours and 37 minutes, and competed in the 2006 ING Miami Marathon as well.
Benson's connection with the road began as a simple workout in 2004. He is the only marathoner in the country to use a skateboard in the 26.2-mile event. For a man who, even as a child, refused to sit in a wheel chair and who, as a toddler, learned to walk in prostheses, it made sense.
The dancer with no legs who became India's Got Talent Star
A legless hip-hop dancer appearing on an Indian television reality show has become a rage with his swift dance moves and acrobatic skills. Meet 21-year-old Vinod Thakur shot to fame after performing on the television show India's Got Talent.
Born without legs, he quickly learnt how to walk on his hands at home in East Delhi. The TV show – part of Simon Cowell's global empire – carries a top prize of £68,000, a far cry from the £85 a month he earns repairing mobile phones. What's more, the economics student only started dancing five months prior to that – teaching himself by copying videos downloaded in his local internet cafe.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Lilia Stepanova, an attractive 21-year-old contortionist, shows off her skills by shooting a bow and arrow with her feet. Stepanova, who has gained a lot of popularity from her appearances on famous TV shows like the ‘Jimmy Kimmel Show' and ‘America's Got Talent', is known for her body bending and twisting techniques. She has also performed in front of NBA, NHL and NCAA arenas, while also becoming a regular feature on the ESPN Sports Center opening highlights.
Daniel Browning Smith holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest time squeezing through both a tennis racquet and a toilet seat. He is known as the Rubberboy.
At the age of four Zlata discovered she had an amazing talent - and she has been bending over backwards ever since to make the most of it. The Russian-born former gymnast, 24, is one of the world's most extreme contortionists. At 5 ft 9 ins, Zlata spends most of her days working out and training for shows around the world.
Zlata has a rare condition that makes all her tendons extremely pliable, allowing her to adopt seemingly back-breaking positions.
Kirsty Nicholson bagged her dream job as a contortionist in the circus after she was cured of her claustrophobia by her mum, who placed her in bins to get her over her fear of small spaces. Nicholson's mother came up with the drastic solution to cure her daughter so she could join the circus as a singer and contortionist.
With the ability to press his soles to his cheeks, turn himself into a human dart board, and dislocate his shoulders to escape from a straitjacket, Matt Alaeddine's résumé reads more like a medical examiner's report. Couple that with his sizable mass — well over 400 pounds — and the city comic and contortionist has found a ticket around the world, securing him a place in the infamous Jim Rose Circus. Founded in the '90s, the circus features extreme, often masochistic onstage acts involving everything from sword swallowing to genital lifts.
Alaeddine, 30, is one of three Edmontonians in the American troupe of pain-loving freaks. He started doing contortion as a street performer at the Edmonton Fringe Festival about 10 years ago. When performing his contortions, Alaeddine stuffs his rolling hillsides into a gold nylon suit labelled “one size fits all” that he bought from the women's section of a hipster-friendly clothing store.”
Nokulunga Buthelezi, the contortion star of the show "Africa, Africa", went to a German TV show and kicked some butts with her snake-like choreography.
Arevik and Tatevik Seyranyan perform 2 girls, 1 cu…be.
Alexey I. Goloborodko is a contortionist who has been described by many as the most flexible human on the planet. He was born in Tula, Russia, in December 1994. As well as contortion and flexibility, he has been trained in classical and modern dance, and Chinese martial arts. This helps to add fluency, grace and elegance to his contortion performances. He has performed in a variety of arts festivals and competitions, television programs, circuses and shows.
Richard Rosson (stage name Rubber Ritchie) is a British contortionist who has come to some prominence in the British media in recent years. He has appeared on a variety of television shows, including Channel 4 News, The Richard and Judy Show, and the Saturday morning children's show Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow.
Rosson has appeared in adverts and trailers for various products. Notably, in early 2006, Rosson acted as stunt double in a Walker's Crisps advert for ex-England footballer and BBC presenter Gary Lineker. Rosson has also had an impact on the big screen, shooting scenes as Avery the Death Eater for the blockbuster movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Another picture of 24 year old former Russian gymnast Zlata.