Superhumans Among Us: People with Abilities Beyond Belief

Wim Hof can take an hour-long ice bath with no ill effects. But he's not the only person with physical abilities that would astound even David Blaine -- here are a few other talented humans who might just be bringing us to the next stage of evolution.

He’s run a half-marathon in the Arctic Circle region –in bare feet. He’s been entombed in ice for 72 straight minutes. He’s swum 80 meters beneath a layer of ice. He’s climbed partway up Mount Everest, clad only in a pair of shorts.

This man is known, unsurprisingly, as The Iceman. And no, he’s not a new character on Heroes –he’s a 48-year-old Dutchman named Wim Hof, who has the ability to control his body’s temperature through an ancient form of meditation known as Tummo. Though Tummo is normally practiced only by monks, Hof has mastered the art form to such an extent that he never feels cold, even in sub-zero temperatures that could cause severe hypothermia, or even death, should us normal people attempt such stunts.

Hof’s incredible abilities confound common scientific beliefs, and the Iceman has been the subject of many studies to see whether there is anything unusual about his body that allows him to embrace freezing temperatures. But as far as they can tell, it’s really all in his mind: “It’s very easy to speculate that the same mind control that you use to control your heart when you’re scared also can be called upon to control the other organs in the body. And maybe that’s how Wim Hof does this,” Dr. Ken Kamler told ABC News. “That’s … it’s speculation, but it sort of makes sense, and a lot of scientists are working very hard to try to figure this out now.”

Hof isn’t the only person with physical abilities that would astound even David Blaine –here are a few other talented humans who might just be bringing us to the next stage of evolution.

The Middle-School Michael Jordan

If Jashaun Agosto ever went one-to-one against Kobe Bryant, it would be a serious toss-up. But Agosto isn’t an NBA newbie just yet – we think they’ve got some rule about finishing middle school first. The 12-year-old boy can pull off flawless 3-pointers, dribble two balls at a time back and forth between his legs, and shoot 100 straight free throws from the back of the court.

And basketball’s not his only sport: In 2007, he set the world record for the fastest mile run by someone his age. When doctors tried to figure out how he managed athletic feats that would be impressive in someone twice his age, they discovered that his VO2 max, which measures the ability to control oxygen intake during exercise, was remarkably high for a child. By the time he’s fully grown, his lung capacity should be on the level of any NBA player –which means Kobe better watch his back. Check out this video of his astonishing skills.

Want to know more about Jashaun? Follow him on Twitter.

A Preschool Powerhouse

Liam Hoekstra’s got an ultra-buff six-pack, bulging biceps, and 40 percent more muscle mass than the average man. But he’s no greasy bodybuilder – last we heard, he hasn’t graduated from the sandbox. In 2007, we reported on this extraordinary toddler, who has a condition known as myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, which gives him Hulk-level strength. Check out this video of Liam, filmed a year ago.

Video: Liam Hoekstra leaves a strong impression

Mr. Flexibility

Ever wanted to squeeze your entire body through a tennis racket frame, or twist your arms into a pretzel shape behind your back, or cram yourself into an 18-gallon box? Yeah, it’s not on the top of our list, either – but we’ve got to wince in disbelief at the astounding flexibility of the world’s greatest contortionist, Daniel Browning Smith, better known as The Rubberboy.

Since doing his first split at the age of four, the 30-year-old Rubberboy has been amazing the world with his natural flexibility, and has won numerous Guinness World records for his superhuman stunts. He’s showed his stuff on tons of talk shows, and even guest stints on Monk and Carnivale, but if you’ve never witnessed his incredible contortions, check him out in action here.


Rubber Boy - The funniest bloopers are right here

The Man Who Feels No Pain

Imagine having a giant spike stuck through your face, all the way from mouth to chin, or walking across a bed of broken glass. You’d have to be the ultimate masochist to endure such pain –unless you’re Tim Cridland, otherwise known as Zamora, the “Torture King.

Cridland was born without the ability to feel physical pain. Though Cridland believes the strange phenomenon is due to his mental power, researchers who’ve studied others with the same condition believe that it may be caused by a rare genetic mutation, which prevents the brain from reacting to painful physical stimuli. Unfortunately, the condition doesn’t prevent the sort of mental torture created by MTV’s Jersey Shore. Check him out in action below, but viewer beware: it’s not for the faint of heart.

Originally published March 18th, 2008; republished with slight modifications.