RASMUS NIELSEN – Tattooed Wonderman

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



  • Reply October 2, 2007



  • Reply March 16, 2008


    This is a weird way to find out about my family tree…. WOW

  • Reply May 9, 2008


    Actually more is known about Rasmus. Check out the article in the Point.
    Which has a picture of his gravestone in Angels Camp listing his death as 1957.
    It sounds like there are still some items from his old show in the museum there too.

  • Reply May 9, 2008

    J. Tithonus Pednaud

    Excellent, thank you for passing that information along. I will update the article asap.

  • Reply October 22, 2008



    • Reply March 3, 2015


      stfu u mad bruh

  • Reply July 22, 2010


    Old man wanted fame.

  • Reply August 9, 2010


    Strange, that so many of the marvels faded into obscurity and their fate and date of death is unknown.

  • Reply November 29, 2010


    That link to the Point article is broken, unfortunately. However, I was just in Angels Camp and discovered his marker, and found your site by Googling his name. It was hard to get a good picture of the marker because it’s very polished. It says “Rasmus Nielsen 1874 – 1957 Native of Denmark. Entered U.S.A. 1891. Blacksmith and strongnman of Mother Lode 1902 to 1937, when he began a 20-year career with Barnum & Bailey Circus, featured internationally as the world’s strongest and most tatooed [sic] man. He lifted 2250 lbs. A bachelor and lover of children, he left his entire estate to the crippled children’s hospital in S.F. Cal.”

  • Reply December 2, 2010


    This is my great great uncle and you are wrong on alot of facts but it is still awesome you do this site. Rasmus only got into strong man after a mining accident in which a 2400# ore cart fell on him and he squated it off of him to ring to panic line. He was a loved great uncle who would bring fruit to SD during the worst of times.always wow the kids with his spirit and love for life.

  • Reply December 2, 2010


    no mention of his teeth pulling tricks?????lol

  • Reply March 13, 2011


    Mr. Nielsen was a beloved member of Angels Camp. He loved kids and entertained them in the children’s wards at various hospitals. The local kids were enthralled by his stories of life in the circus. His entire estate was willed to the Crippled Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. Matt, it is my understanding that he turned to tattooing and strongman acts due to lack of work as a blacksmith during the
    Depression. I hadn’t heard about the mining accident.

  • Reply March 23, 2011


    I am doing research for an article about Mr. Nielsen’s charitable works and family history. Information about him is very elusive. I would really like to contact Matt (Rasmus Nielsen’s nephew) who left a blog on this website in December 2010. Would you kindly forward my email address and this message to Matt’s email? Thank you.

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