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John Massis

John Massis was a strongman born in 1940 in Belgium as Wilfried Morbée. He was most famous for feats of strength using his teeth to pull trains, lift cars, stop motorbikes from moving and helicopters from taking off, breaking several Guinness world records.

John Massis

John Massis

Massis was pretty strong even as a young man, as he started performing these feats regularly at the age of 17, under the pseudonym “Mocules the strongman”. Only 3 years later, he managed to pull a car with four passengers for 100 yards. In 1963 John Massis became a professional circus artist and spent the next nine years performing around Europe. It is during this period that Wilfried Morbée took the name John Massis to reflect the name of the American boxer John Cosmeyer and popular Italian movie character Maciste who depicted as a Hercules-like figure.


In 1967 John Massis took the first Guinness record after pulling 15 tons heavy train for 15 meters using his teeth. Two years later, he broke another record in a similar manner, when he held 36 tons heavy airplane with 200 horsepower from taking off. Massis decided to quit his job at the circus in order to find a better paying job. He then worked as a bouncer in Ghent club during night and as controller of gas boilers during day.



John Massis breaking a world record in Teeth Lifting, Paris 1977

John Massis breaking a world record in Teeth Lifting, Paris 1977

John Massis was like an alter-ego of Morbée’s. While Massis performed amazing feats of strength to impress the crowd, Morbée lived a life of solitude and depression. During the last decade of his life, John Massis recorded two singles in 1980 and 1987, found a political party “Positive Radicals” in 1983, but sadly he committed suicide in 1988. That same year he found out that he suffers from diabetes which, in combination with lack of media interest in him, led to deeper depression – enough to resort to a drastic measure like suicide.


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