Titano Oddfellow is the first and only Metropolitan Opera performer who beats fantastic records with his bare hands.
45-year-old admits the idea of pursuing a career based on strength never even occurred to him.
Growing up in the Midwest, he “always had [some] kind of had farm boy strength or something. I was naturally strong,” he told MensHealth.com.
He was a bike messenger and itinerant worker, spending his 20s riding the rails and doing odd jobs when a friend encouraged him to become a strongman.
“I’m just, like, so not macho,” he says. “I didn’t want to do it.”
Eventually, he agreed to try. The first performance was held in front of 300 people in a Milwaukee beer hall. Titano’s original idea was to “wear some gym shorts and rip a phone book in half,” but his sense of showmanship led him to focus more on developing an actual strongman character, “I was like, ‘I got way more imagination than that,'” he recalls. “So I just spent a week and made my whole getup.”
That’s how the character Titano Oddfellow (part gladiator, part Viking, and all brute strength) appeared.
From that time, the professional sideshow performer who is appearing in the Metropolitan Opera’s current production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte hadn’t done a single workout. His training is mostly “mind over matter”.
It could seem like some kind of weird, but he still holds multiple strongman records, including one for “Heaviest person lifted using teeth” and “Fastest time to bend five screwdrivers with bare hands”.
What is more, our strongman is so tough he can pound a scissor into his nose without blinking.
As he explains it, “each thing I do as a feat of strength is either something dreamed up by me, or recreated from seeing pictures from a long-gone era of strong person feats of strength and showpersonship.”
“I don’t have a workout routine,” he says, “because I suffer from that thing called ‘free-spiritedness’ that most artistic people have.” He views himself less as a strongman in the vein of the Mountain and more of a “clown” for his audience.
“I want to inspire people to look into the other part of themselves, where it’s mind over matter,” he says. “I want people to find a place where they can tap into something that’s more than muscle. Everyone has that spirit inside of them, so to speak.”