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Mike Gillette’s Strongman Feat Makes Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

April 22, 2013 05:21 AM

Well, when it comes to your abs, how tough are you, really?

Do you just have a pretty-boy six pack—all show and no real go when it comes to handling impact?

Or do you have the kind of snarly strength that can withstand 3 tons of impact force slamming into your midsection?
Dragon Door’s new author, Mike Gillette, has exactly that kind of strength—and proved it recently to the world, through Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  Here is their recent notice:

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However, this Ripley's cartoon is not configured in a way that really tells the story of what made Mike’s stunt so "unbelievable". The information below provides the mathematics behind the mania.

Absorbing 3 tons of impact force while laying on broken glass. (Being struck on the abdomen by a bowling ball dropped from a height of 8 feet, five inches while laying on a pile of broken glass).


Mike Gillette laid on his back on a pile of broken pieces of glass. Next to him was a ladder on which his assistant climbed to the top and held a 14-pound bowling ball at the predetermined height. Mike then placed a china plate on top of his abdomen which functioned as a target. Upon impact with the ball, the plate would also shatter, creating a layer of shards above his abdomen in addition to the shards that he was laying on. Attached to the bowling ball was a length of nylon cord which had been cut to the length 8 feet, five inches. The cord had a small metal weight at the bottom to hold it straight. When the cord was stretched to its full length, it provided a visual indication that the ball was at the appropriate height. Once Mike had prepared himself for the impact, he signaled that he was "ready", at which time the ball was dropped.

Key to the significance of this stunt was in precisely calculating the impact. And once the impact forces were quantifiable, they were adjusted upwards to the very limits of what Mike might reasonably be expected to survive. In this case, 6,000 pounds (or 3-tons) of impact force was selected as the goal.  Here are the calculations as computed by Civil Engineer Leland Belding:
  • The Bowling Ball weighed14 lbs, and was converted to a metric weight of 6.35 kilograms to comply with the formula used in these calculations
  • The ball was dropped from a height of 2.5723 meters (which was then converted back to 101 inches, or 8 feet and five inches)
  • The amount of Deflection was the most stringent variable and was computed as conservatively as possible. As a result, the impact force may have been considerably greater than the 6,000 pound figure which was promoted. To ensure that this amount of force was being achieved with certainty, the amount of .006 meters (or 1/4 inch was used)
  • A 14-pound bowling ball dropped from 2.5723 meters attains a speed of 7.10 meters-per-second, or 15.88 miles-per-hour.  This rate of speed translates to a force measurement of 26656.41 Newtons, or 6,000 pounds (3-tons) of force at impact.

Coming next week: details on the kind the training Mike Gillette used to withstand 3 tons of impact force on his belly—while lying on broken glass.

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Former SWAT Commander and Executive Bodyguard, Mike Gillette is a relentless student of the human factors which allow people to succeed despite overwhelming odds. His research and experiences have taken him through many different worlds and disciplines. They have ultimately produced a body of knowledge which has been put to use by clients ranging from high-risk professionals operating in extraordinary circumstances, to ordinary people who want to make extraordinary changes in their lives...