Former boxer Johnny Coulon proved that strength can be defeated by intelligence. He possessed a secret that sometimes led people to think of him as a magician. It’s hard to imagine that a person weighing 50 kg cannot be lifted off the ground, but the fact remained more eloquent than words. Johnny Coulon performed this trick often, touring the world. Even the powerful heavyweight boxer Muhammad Ali couldn’t lift him by a centimeter.
Boxers Johnny Coulon and Muhammad Ali: weight class and age difference
Johnny Coulon’s interest in sports became a professional pursuit after a successful match in Chicago. He started with amateur competitions, demonstrating that a small weight was no obstacle to knocking out opponents. At the age of 16, he became a professional boxer in the lightweight category, and at 21, he became a champion. At that time, his weight was approximately 100 pounds.
The period from 1911 to 1914 became crucial for Johnny Coulon in boxing when he was winning championship titles. After the death of his father, who had been his manager throughout his career, the boxer took a break. Returning to his previous level proved impossible. He stopped boxing but did not give up on sports.
After getting married, Johnny Coulon opened a school for boxers, and many famous champions emerged under his watchful eye. One of them was Muhammad Ali, who used the training ring while still in his prime.
Clay Cassius became Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam. This decision was not well-received by many of his associates, and some turned away from him. He was suspended from competitions for three years, but it did not hinder his career. Over time, he achieved remarkable results that were hard to surpass. Throughout his professional career, he faced many challenges, but Ali always believed in his victory. His first goal was to prove that skin color could not determine one person’s superiority over another.
Muhammad Ali initially competed in the light heavyweight category and later in the heavyweight category. When his strength was just starting to peak, Johnny Coulon was already an elderly man. For example, in 1964, Ali was 22 years old, while Johnny Coulon was 75.
How Muhammad Ali Couldn’t Lift Johnny Coulon
Two boxers from different weight categories met at Johnny Coulon’s presentation. One had a height of 152 cm, the other 190 cm. The weight difference was also significant. Muhammad Ali was asked to lift Johnny Coulon.
At first glance, it seemed like an easy task for a boxer who constantly engaged in sports. He lifted the lightweight Johnny Coulon effortlessly on the first attempt, placing him back on his feet.
However, the second attempt failed. Muhammad Ali couldn’t even budge the lightweight Johnny Coulon from the spot. Meanwhile, the latter stood calmly, without any effort or resistance. Whether it was a trick, magic, or some other phenomenon, the fact remained that intelligence could prevail over strength.
Johnny Coulon’s Secret
After leaving his boxing career, Johnny Coulon still needed to make a living. He had a trick up his sleeve that allowed him to create his own stage act. Johnny Coulon would strip down to his waist and challenge anyone to prove their strength against him. His appearance, resembling a slender schoolboy of short stature, often elicited laughter.
Several challengers tried but left the stage disappointed. No one could lift or move Johnny Coulon. The secret lay in his knowledge of human physiology, the location of nerve endings, and the points that affected them.
Johnny Coulon assumed a stance that was inherently uncomfortable for his opponents. The position of his hands was also unique, but no one objected to it; those were the conditions of the performance. He would grip his opponent’s wrist with one hand and place the other on the opponent’s neck, using only two fingers. This effectively blocked a nerve, limiting the capabilities of both arms.
There was another version that Johnny Coulon could control his levitation and gain weight when he wanted. Even heavyweight boxer Primo Carnera, who was over two meters tall, couldn’t overcome the lightweight boxer. Doctors and scientists tried to decipher the method, thinking it had to do with the stance. They added extra weight to Johnny Coulon’s body to change the center of gravity or suggested wetting his hands, believing it would diminish his strength. However, the trick always succeeded, and victory was on his side.
The “Unliftable” Woman Trick
Renowned magician Harry Houdini believed that Johnny Coulon’s performance was a simple trick. Similar acts were performed in circuses in the 1880s, where girls, despite their light weight, could not be lifted or moved. This type of act was replicated in the 20th century and even in the 21st century.
In 2019, magician Julien Magique and his wife conducted a street challenge for men. They invited passersby to lift a woman twice. However, the trick was slightly modified. The woman lightly held onto the men’s elbows, which didn’t raise suspicion since she needed support to maintain balance. In reality, she apparently found the right points that also blocked the strength of the men’s arms. The men couldn’t lift the woman off the ground on the second attempt, no matter how hard they tried. They took it in good humor, realizing they had been tricked in some way.
Tricks and pranks can add fun to life, but they should be carried out without risking health. Movies often dedicate a lot of time to them, and there are stunt performers who can execute complex acts. However, actors are not left out, and many are willing to perform such feats on their own.