What quality are common among the toughest men in American history? Even though the answer to this question might vary depending on the location, era, and society’s perceptions at the time, most of us will agree that traditional qualities of being brave and strong help separate real men from the rest (though bravery and strength do not equate with “good”, bad men can be brave and strong as well). Throughout the centuries, an alpha male’s ability and passion to take care of those who depend on him has been central to his masculinity. Men will work, fight, and do anything necessary to create a safe and happy environment for himself and those they love (usually their family). This has been the most acceptable role for a man for thousands of years and American society is no different. Of course, this is not saying that women are not as brave, strong, and courageous as any man. Not at all! However, on this list, we are going to focus on the toughest men in American history. Those men who have managed to stand above the rest via their actions and their sacrifice (whether good or bad). To avoid confusion, we’re not equating toughness with morality. Some of the toughest men in American history have been arguably quite immoral.
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We all know that Lincoln carried on a no-holds-barred war against the South that eventually crushed its spirit. Of course, that’s enough for any man to gain badass status. But when it comes to Lincoln not many know that he was an incredibly tough wrestler. In fact, it’s rumored that he never lost a match. It’s a sage bet that if the Olympics or the WWE existed during his lifetime, he could have made a comfortable living using his wrestling skills, even if he never got elected.
General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur was an American general best known for his command of Allied forces in the Pacific Theater in World War II during which he liberated the Philippines in 1944 after it had fallen to the Japanese. He also fought in World War I and went on to lead UN forces at the start of the Korean War, but later clashed with President Harry Truman over war policy and was removed from command. MacArthur remains a controversial and enigmatic figure for his character and war tactics but no one has ever challenged or doubted his manliness and tough image.
Way before “Iron” Mike Tyson and World Kickboxing champ “Iron” Mike Zambidis there was the original, authentic “Iron” Mike Malloy. A former firefighter, Malloy ended up being a homeless drunk on the streets of New York. He is most famous for surviving a number of vicious attempts on his life by five acquaintances who were attempting to commit life insurance fraud. His legacy can be traced in an instrumental piece by The Spent Poets titled “You Can’t Kill Michael Malloy.”
During the mid-’80s Mike Tyson was considered the “baddest man on the planet.” He was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world and like no boxer before him, destroyed every challenger in the ring in minutes (even seconds in some cases). His name is synonymous with destruction, though nowadays Iron Mike is one of the calmest and most friendly celebrities you could meet.
You probably don’t recognize his name but if you’ve seen 127 Hours starring James Franco, then you probably know who we’re talking about. Aron survived a canyoneering accident in southeastern Utah in 2003, during which he amputated his own right forearm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder (which had him trapped for five days and seven hours). Then he had to make his way through the remainder of the canyon and rappel down a sixty-five-foot cliff face in order to reach safety.