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Frank “Cannonball” Richards: A Circus Act with Serious Bodily Damage?

We’ve all seen that iconic image of the guy with the funny goggles on his face standing his ground as a cannonball slams full force into his stomach. Did you ever wonder who this guy was, or if one of those cannonballs ever found its way through his stomach? Let’s take a look at the man behind the cannonball, and whether his body could truly withstand that level of punishment.

The Man Behind the Cannonball

Frank Richards is the man who famously let himself be shot with a cannon during his famous circus act. A World War I veteran, Frank Richards found himself on display as a man of super human strength in the circus world of vaudeville. What started out as a small gimmick became world famous, gathering the interests of locals and celebrities alike.

Levelling Up Punishment

Frank didn’t start out his famous cannonball act. He built up an impressive level of resistance with his stomach, starting first with allowing the average person to punch him. Eventually, he allowed famous boxers to give it their best shot with Jack Dempsey striking him an impressive seventy-five times.

From here, Frank took blows from sledgehammers and battering rams. Circus goers even jumped on his stomach. Finally, Frank took a 104-pounds cannonball to the gut from a spring-loaded cannon.

Did This Act Kill Him?

It’s easy to assume that Frank’s cannonball act eventually did him in, but he ended up living to the old age of 81. What’s more, no public medical records indicate that the cannonball act was the cause of or played a part in his death. How’s that possible?

Frank used a spring-loaded cannon, not something out of the war he just fought in. A spring-loaded cannon doesn’t produce the same explosive power. This combined with a stomach that had spent years taking a high level of punishment allowed Frank to perform the cannonball act twice per day with no medical repercussions.

With that said, this act is in no way safe for the average person to do, even if you have an impressive six pack. Work on your core strength, but do so with crunches, sit-ups, and planks…not with cannonballs.

Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.

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