People Trivia
282.3k readers

When He Got Shot In The Face, His Skull Stopped The Bullet And He Became A Legend

Updated February 25, 2020 282.3k views10 items

You may not recognize the name Joseph Greenstein, but perhaps you've heard of the "Mighty Atom." He was one of the world's strongest men despite being born three months premature and so underweight that doctors didn't think he would survive his infancy. Born in Poland in 1893, the Mighty Atom was frail and small when he was young, but he transformed himself physically and mentally to become a famous performer.

The Mighty Atom came from humble beginnings. He joined a European circus and learned from a mentor how to perform various feats of strength. Over the years, he made the news for his incredible stunts. He also used his powers of strength to combat those who opposed him and his beliefs. He is credited with fighting anti-Semites and others who challenged him. He also helped raise money for war efforts and taught law enforcement officials how to protect themselves.

Like Frank Lentini, the three-legged man, and Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, Greenstein used his personal peculiarities to his own advantage.

  • He Bit Through Nails, Broke Chains, And Held Down An Airplane With His Hair

    Video: YouTube

    After he survived a gunshot to the head, Greenstein's confidence soared, and "The Mighty Atom" was born. He moved to Coney Island, NY, and showed off his skills to a paying audience. He performed incredible feats, including breaking chains across his chest and bending iron bars using his teeth. He used his hands to drill nails through metal and bit through chains, nails, and quarters. He was so strong, he could bend horseshoes out of shape by pressing them against his forehead.

    In the 1930s, the Mighty Atom laid down on a bed of nails and did the unthinkable - he placed a board on himself and allowed a Dixieland band to play music on top of him. But one of his most incredible feats took place in 1928. He attached himself to an airplane with his hair and held the aircraft down while the pilot attempted to take off. 

  • He Was Assaulted By 6 Men And Sent Them All To The Hospital 

    In 1936, the Mighty Atom reportedly got into a fight with six dock workers and sent them all to the hospital.

    Stories in New York papers read "Little Giant Knocks Out Six."

  • He Single-Handedly Beat Up 20 Nazi Sympathizers

    The Mighty Atom was deeply offended by anti-Semitism. He was in New York in 1938 when he spotted a sign stating, "No Dogs or Jews Allowed." He ripped it down off of the building, and 20 Nazi sympathizers went on the attack. The strongman held nothing back and hospitalized eighteen of the men. 

    Police arrested him for assault, but when he went to court to defend himself, the judge didn't believe he alone had defended himself against such a large gang. The case was dismissed.

  • He Raised Money To Fight Hitler And The Nazis And Taught Jiu-Jitsu To Police Officers

    During WWII, the Mighty Atom donated his time and energy to raise money to help the United States defeat Adolf Hitler. The strongman pulled a truck full of people and raised tons of money for war bonds. He also worked with the NYPD to make them stronger.

    For two years The Mighty Atom toured the city of New York offering martial arts and wrestling training to help local law enforcement recruit more men. The strongman also demonstrated his feats of strength to help the force recruit more lawmen. New York Mayor LaGuardia lauded the Mighty Atom for his efforts.