January 23, 2022

Ashrita Furman, daredevil

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The daredevil life of Ashrita Furman, the man who’s broken more than 600 Guinness World Records

Caroline Praderio, INSIDER From Business Insider

When Ashrita Furman was growing up in Queens, New York, he was more brainy than brawny. He was the junior high valedictorian who excelled in school but never in sports.

But today, at age 62, he’s the picture of athletic prowess. He can ride a unicycle while juggling, walk around with a lawnmower balanced on his chin, and jump on a pogo stick for hours. In an interesting turn of events, Ashrita Furman has become something of a super athlete — all in the name of breaking as many Guinness World Records as possible.

“I had been a fan of the Guinness since I was a kid,” he told INSIDER. “I used to carry it around with me. But I never lost that — being enamored of the book. I just love that idea of being the best in the world at something — and not as an ego thing, but as a goal to attain.”

Furman broke his first record in 1979, and now estimates he’s broken around 630 of them since. He still holds about 207 of those records — including the world record for holding the most world records, of course.

Here’s a look at how — and why — Furman turned record-breaking into a lifelong pursuit.


Ashrita Furman prepares to break a world record in backwards bowling in 2005.Reuters/Seth Wenig

Meet Ashrita Furman: a 62-year-old health food store manager from Queens who’s broken more than 600 world records. Reuters/Aladin Abdel Naby

His records run the gamut from the awe-inspiring to the just plain weird. He has pogo-sticked up a mountain, run a marathon while juggling, and pushed an orange with his nose for one mile.

He set a new record in 2004 by doing it in 24 minutes and 36 seconds.Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

A few more notable records he currently holds: Most beer bottles opened by chainsaw in one minute (24), most jelly eaten with chopsticks in one minute (1 pound, 7.95 ounces), farthest distance to blow a coin (16 feet, 2.76 inches), and fastest mile on pogo stick while juggling (23 minutes, 28 seconds).

Source: Ashrita Furman

And he’s got a taste for daring stunts, too. For example: Extinguishing blowtorches with nothing but his tongue.

Furman was deeply inspired by the teachings of a controversial spiritual leader named Sri Chinmoy.

Chinmoy in 2007.AP/Mary Altaffer

The Indian-born Chinmoy came to New York City in 1964 and opened up a meditation center, advocating world peace and harmony. Soon, his flock of devotees spread across the world. Chinmoy rubbed elbows with respected world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu — but many former disciples have alleged that he was abusive.

Source: New York Times; Forbes; Pix11

Chinmoy encouraged followers to heighten their spirituality via extreme physical challenges … like, say, juggling underwater amongst sharks.

This record-breaking attempt failed when a shark knocked a ball from Furman’s hands.Reuters/Zainal Abd Halim

Source: New York Times; Ashrita Furman

But Furman is also spurred on by a lifelong love of the Guinness Book of World Records. “I remember reading it under the covers at night,” he recalled.

Reuters/Zainal Abd Halim

In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records was conceived the same year that Furman was born — 1954. The idea was the brainchild of a Guinness Brewery executive who wished there was a reference book for settling friendly pub arguments.

“My life is kind of tied up with the Guinness book,” Furman said.

Source: Guinness World Records

He broke his first record in 1979 by performing 27,000 continuous jumping jacks in a Manhattan gym. He’s been traveling the world breaking records ever since.

In 2002, Furman broke a record for the fastest 5-mile walk while hula hooping.Reuters

In 1987, he earned the world record for holding the most world records — a title he’s never relinquished.

Furman once broke a record by skipping 3 miles in 35 minutes…with a tiger.Reuters/Sukree Sukplang

Furman told INSIDER he’s currently breaking about a record a week.

In 2005, Furman went to Egypt and walked 7 miles balancing a billiard cue on his finger.Reuters/Aladin Abdel Naby

Most often, he looks in the Guinness book for a fun category, then starts training to break it. He also fights to regain his old records that others have toppled.

Furman hula-hooped with the world’s largest hula-hoop (more than 14 feet across!) in New York City.Reuters

He’s even invented a few world record categories, including the fastest mile running with an egg in a spoon.

Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

And he never lets failure get him down. “I’m not after success,” he told INSIDER. “I’m after progress.”

Furman tried (and failed) to balance 22 milk crates on his chin in Pisa, Italy.Reuters/Max Rossi

That fierce determination helped him set a record for fastest marathon while juggling — even though he had a bug in his eye for the last eight miles of the race.

Reuters/Max Rossi

“I did [it in] three hours and 23 minutes and I was really, really happy,” Furman told INSIDER. “And I was very, very nervous because […] there’s this pressure of failing. But in the end it’s really not about that. ‘Cause even if I had failed I would have just tried again.”

He’s put his body through a lot — including 12 miles of continuous somersaulting during which he stopped frequently to vomit.

Reuters/Max Rossi

He had decided to break the record for consecutive somersaults by rolling along 12 miles of roads in Massachusetts.

“I had been training on a track and [the real course] wasn’t flat. It was hilly and it completely threw off my equilibrium,” Furman said. ” I’ll tell you — it was a rough battle.”

But Furman broke the record that day, completing 8,341 forward rolls one after the other.

Source: Guinness World Records

Luckily, his injuries — including a spear wound sustained while catching spears underwater —have been few.

“[A] spear did actually go through my hand,” he told INSIDER. “Not through, but almost all the way through.”

His fame doesn’t get him any special treatment from the folks at Guinness.

In 2005, he set a record for backward bowling, scoring 160 in a single game.Reuters/Seth Wenig

Just like all other applicants, Furman has to make sure all his attempts are recorded on video and done in the presence of official witnesses. And he still has to wait about 6 months for Guinness to review each record-breaking attempt.

Furman spends his days meditating, working at his health food store, and training for his next big attempt.

Furman did squat thrusts while riding an elephant in 2007.AP/Apichart Weerawong

Some feats — like his record for most apples cut in the air by sword in one minute — take months of training. Others he simply launches into.

Most recently, he went to Greece and broke a record for balancing stacked traffic cones on his chin. “I brought the cones with me,” he said. “I had an interesting time getting through immigration.”

In 2013, he broke the record for most eggs caught in the mouth in one minute.Diane Bondareff/AP/Invision

Sure, some of his stunts seem downright frightening — perhaps even foolish.

Exhibit A: Furman’s record for most melons chopped on the stomach on a bed of nails in one minute. (24, in case you were wondering.)

But Furman believes his drive to break records is simple human nature.

Reuters/Seth Wenig

“As human beings,” he said, “we’re programmed to want to transcend ourselves.”

Furman received thisDiane Bondareff/AP/Invision

See all the records that Furman currently holds at the Guinness World Records website.

Read the original article on INSIDER. Follow INSIDER on Facebook. Copyright 2017. Follow INSIDER on Twitter.

For more on this story go to; http://www.businessinsider.com/who-broke-the-most-guinness-world-records-2017-1?utm_source=feedburner&amp%3Butm_medium=referral&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+businessinsider+%28Business+Insider%29/#as-human-beings-he-said-were-programmed-to-want-to-transcend-ourselves-21

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