Rasmus Nielsen was something of a body modification pioneer. Born in Denmark in the early 1870’s, and a blacksmith by trade, Rasmus had a passion for the art of tattooing. Over the span of several years, Rasmus painfully collected tattoos and eventually his collection grew so impressive that he reasoned folks would pay to look at his body.
Unfortunately for Rasmus, his timing was poor. The tattooed man was a common attraction during his era and his tattoos, while quite prolific, were not of the most exotic variety and failed to garner much attention. In order to make himself a greater draw and to distinguish himself from the ‘average’ illustrated man, he considered adding strongman feats to his repertoire. As a blacksmith, Rasmus developed formidable strength and possessed an impressive physique. However, as strongman acts were also quite common, Rasmus devised an act practically unheard of to further set himself apart. He had his nipples, nose and tongue pierced and developed enough strength, elasticity and pain tolerance to lift anvils and other heavy object from those piercings.
The act proved quite successful and his popularity began to soar. Borrowing from the tattooed men who came before him, Rasmus claimed his tattoos and talents were obtained when he was captured and tortured by tribal savages in the South Seas. These savages were apparently well traveled as a Statue of Liberty tattoo encompassed much of Rasmus’s back.
As the years progressed, so did the strength of Rasmus. The weight of his anvils changed from 50 to 100, and eventually 250 pounds. He purportedly was able to lift a 115 pound weight with one nipple and a 25 pound hammer with his tongue. Eventually, he had is neck pierced and used that to tow a cart filled with spectators or sledgehammers. He continued to use his strength to perform more traditional feats as well. At the age of 65, he appeared at the New York World’s Fair where he legitimately squatted a platform of boulders weighing 1,525.
During his long career, Rasmus was known by many names. He was ‘The Scandinavian Strongman’ and the ‘Tattooed Wonderman’ but to his friends he was simply known as ‘Tough Titty’.
Following his retirement in 1950, Rasmus Nielsen faded into obscurity. The date of his death is currently unknown.
images: courtesy of BMEzine.com