Still kicking
March 7, 2008 10:13 AM   Subscribe

I am skeptical.
posted by tkchrist at 10:18 AM on March 7, 2008

He's a pretty fit and young looking 101. Obviously people do live to be over 100, but I've never seen one who then looked not a day over 65.
posted by DU at 10:20 AM on March 7, 2008

Out-of-country, orphanage and won't tell his first name? Oh yeah, the skeptometer is jumping.
posted by DU at 10:22 AM on March 7, 2008

He ran a half marathon in 5 hours. It would have been faster, but he stopped for a beer and a smoke.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:31 AM on March 7, 2008

Can someone link to some verification that he is 101? All the articles about this guy are just feel-good articles.

Also, all the photos of him look like those guys in the movies wearing age-makeup.
posted by vacapinta at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2008

Ok found this:

But amid all the excitement eyebrows have been raised about the amazing agility of Buster and, more specifically, about the date on his missing birth certificate.

The document, which would disprove once and for all those who have doubted that Buster really is as old as he claims, is apparently with his granddaughter in Canada.

The BBC is said to have proved his age through social security numbers but until the certificate appears Buster is fiercely defending his status as a centenarian that was first publicised by his employer, Pimlico Plumbers, three months before his 100th birthday.

"People say, 'You look too young to be 100, I don't believe you,' " Buster said at a CD-signing event yesterday. "But I look them in the eye and say, 'How old is a 100-year-old supposed to look?' And no one has come up with a good answer yet. I wake up every morning and take life as it comes. If you can't do that, it's no wonder some go before their time."

posted by vacapinta at 10:43 AM on March 7, 2008

This BBC story contains several easily verified claims from his early life: the orphanage, serving in the army at age 15, married in 1920. If we assume that the youngest plausible age for him to marry would be 16, that would actually make him 104. I'm guessing that the fact checking is lacking here. I doubt the chronology of marrying at 13 and joining the army at 15.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:50 AM on March 7, 2008

According to Wikipedia:

He left the market at 14, and joined the British Army and Navy at 15, where he became a physical training instructor. He served in World War II, and left the Armed Forces in 1955 after reaching the rank of regimental sergeant major.

Surely his military records are verifiable?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:50 AM on March 7, 2008

He's no Uncle Dirty (nsfw), that's for sure.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:54 AM on March 7, 2008 [8 favorites]

Note: after successfully defending yourself from a mugging, do not beat the attackers off. You are only opening yourself up to a possible sexual assault charge.

Leave the area immediately and call 911. Unfortunately, adrenaline can lead to unpredictable behavior, especially in the elderly.

posted by lordaych at 11:07 AM on March 7, 2008 [6 favorites]

he did a half marathon in five hours 13 minutes? ha! loser.
posted by gman at 11:09 AM on March 7, 2008

posted by VicNebulous at 11:14 AM on March 7, 2008

mr_crash_davis, that edified. thanks.
posted by mumkin at 11:17 AM on March 7, 2008

I bet you I could take him.
posted by autodidact at 11:21 AM on March 7, 2008

In the movie The Highlander, Connor McCloud hid his immortality by assuming the identities of children who died shortly after being born.

It's possible that what we have here is some kind of anti-immortal. And if that's the case, we have to ask ourselves, can there be only one?
posted by gurple at 11:22 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

He's making me re-think my "fruit-in-beer-is-for-pussies" stance.
posted by VicNebulous at 11:31 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am skeptical.

What, stories from both The Metro and The Standard isn't good enough for you?
posted by influx at 11:35 AM on March 7, 2008

Who knew that Buster was a green guy, too?
posted by VicNebulous at 11:38 AM on March 7, 2008

Yeah, color me unconvinced.
posted by OmieWise at 11:52 AM on March 7, 2008

Wow. Some folks I know that are only 55 look older than that man.
posted by cgomez at 11:57 AM on March 7, 2008

In related news: At 107 years old, Frank Buckles has become the only living U.S. veteran of World War I —the last of nearly five million doughboys.
posted by ericb at 11:59 AM on March 7, 2008

louis wu here we come!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 12:15 PM on March 7, 2008

A car washer-cum-mechanic managed to beat them all off?

Jack LaLanne (at 70) handcuffed and shackled swam a mile an a half through the port of Long Beach (protected by underground sediment barriers, but still an ocean current) towing 77 people in boats. So old folks can be pretty spry.

There’s a nifty scene in “Ghost Dog” where there’s this little Asian man carrying groceries being stalked by a mugger. The mugger creeps up on him, the little guy stops puts down his bags (zanshin allusion there) and waits a beat while the mugger creeps up closer. Then the little old guy kicks him in the face, then spins and hook kicks him in the face again. And stands ready, fists clenched.
The mugger backs off holding his face. Obviously not wanting to mess with the guy.

I don’t know the veracity of the story here. But I liked the scene from “Ghost Dog” b/c you don’t have to absolutely destroy an attacker to demotivate them. Most muggers pick on the elderly, small, etc. because they’re easy marks and they’re (the muggers) not likely to get injured or really have to work hard to get the cash or whatnot. You don’t have to be really tough, just tough enough.

(My mom, who grew up in the ghetto, encountered some gypsies stealing in her store while she was working (yes, there are Romany in Chicago, yes some of them play to stereotype). One of them grabbed her and she dropped him with an uppercut (she’s got some rings, so cut his face up pretty bad as well).
The security guard was a little (5’) Indian guy who’d been raised as a Jain (they make pacifists look bloodthirsty). So basically six to one. But she blood her blood up and wasn’t backing down, so they backed off and she had someone call the police and they went to jail.)
She’s not a small woman, she’s got a very serious street attitude and she grew up as a minority so she used to have to fight every day in school (she’s teaching my daughter how to dance too). So she knew she could hurt them. But still, six people should be able to take one older lady (four men, two women). But in their mind though, not worth the percentage. You want to get past her you might get hurt, plus, you’re probably going to have to really hurt her, and then you’re going to be in much bigger trouble. So, you take the pinch.)

Seems like it could be the same deal here. No one wants to have to really beat on an old man and risk a murder rap for a few bucks.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:32 PM on March 7, 2008

No need to be skeptical. A large proportion (disproportionately large, AFAIR) of ultramarathoners are seniors.

I do not know why.

Now whether this guy can do it or not I'm not sure, but he doesn't seem set to prove anything, just thinks it's worth a shot.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:54 PM on March 7, 2008

I'm an ultramarathoner, and I know of some pretty impressive results by older folks (although I think you're confusing a higher proportion of Masters runners-over 40-with a higher proportion of seniors-over 65), so I'm not skeptical of the possibility of the feat. In fact, I've been reading posts about this guy on the UltraList all week.

I'm skeptical that he's anything close to 100.
posted by OmieWise at 1:10 PM on March 7, 2008

Smedleyman, the "gypsies" in Chicago are almost certainly not Roma from Europe but "Irish Gypsies" from (mostly) South Carolina. They have no connection to Roma at all.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:50 PM on March 7, 2008

This guys been smoking since he was seven. That's 94 years of subjecting everyone around him to second-hand smoke. This makes him the world's oldest asshole.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:51 PM on March 7, 2008

This guys been smoking since he was seven. That's 94 years of subjecting everyone around him to second-hand smoke. This makes him the world's oldest asshole.

Fixate much?
posted by humannaire at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2008 [3 favorites]

So, did the guy kung fu kick the hoodlums, or did he beat them off? Because those are two very different newspaper articles.
posted by papakwanz at 2:15 PM on March 7, 2008

This bloke lives down the road from me - the pub he was coming out of when he got jumped is about a quarter mile away. He was in the local press for ages after he beat down on his muggers. He even turned up for work the next day. Hard as nails.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:28 PM on March 7, 2008

He beat off 3 guys at once? Wow.
posted by Flashman at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2008

My personal preference for elderly marathon runners has to be "Sikhs in the City" - a team of 5 with a combined age of 397 (eldest 94) who are in the habit of doing the Edinburgh Marathon.

And EricB: By coincidence we have Harry Patch in the news today. At 109 he is the last surviving British Tommy from WW1. He has just had a poem written in his honour by poet Laureate Andrew Motion. See details and performance.
posted by rongorongo at 3:00 PM on March 7, 2008

Huh. One of my neighbours also works for Pimlico Plumbers. At least, there's always a PP van parked outside.
posted by Flashman at 3:01 PM on March 7, 2008

“No need to be skeptical.”

I think the skepticism is about the body movement and the efficacy of the strikes. You lose a lot of bone density and muscle mass as you get older, so those hard core strikes (as described by the papers) probably hyperbole or elaboration. Running, swimming, all the cardio, whole other deal. Way more possible than getting up from the ground in a group and then throwing kicks to fend them off.
Reminds me of the old bank guard from Quick Change “So I says to him, "Are you gonna behave? And from out of nowhere comes this knife. I think it was a bowie knife, and I hate knives....Then I said, 'It's all over, Chuckles,' and wrassled him to the floor, but he got some gal in his sights and I had to let up. That's when he coldcocked me”
Robbers plural?
“They all cold cocked me”
So, possible he scared them off, yeah, the Bruce Less stuff, probably not.

“They have no connection to Roma at all.”

I grant it’s a 2nd hand story (seeing someone lay hands on my mom, I’d still be in jail right now) But, I went to pick my mom up after she gave her statement and the “king” of the gypsies was bailing out the crew. Nothing Irish about them.
I know Serbian when it’s spoken. They spoke some Serbian, so I figure they were Machwaya instead of Kalderash (who speak Hungarian). Plenty of both came to Chicago way back and in the 1970s (some snakehead, no wait, coyote, he was Mexican, abandoned a bunch of them in Arizona) when the Gypsy community got them help and sent them up here because they were Machwaya. So ok, they’re Hungarian Slovakian up here, but gypsies, not Irish travellers.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:04 PM on March 7, 2008

I met him last Saturday - we were having breakfast at a local café, and he was reading the paper with his (fried) breakfast at a table outside. The wind blew the TV supplement off the table, and I retrieved it and left it under his water glass, although he told me he didn't really need it. As we left, I mentioned to my wife that he's over a hundred years old (I'd seen him on local TV).

He's completely there, if you see what I mean. You can tell that from even such a short encounter.

Once, someone who was trying to sell me financial products asked me whether I'd like to retire at fifty, and I told him I couldn't imagine ever retiring. I think I made the right decision.
posted by Grangousier at 3:31 PM on March 7, 2008

I think the skepticism is about the body movement and the efficacy of the strikes.

Whoah! I guess I'm just used to seeing stories covered in a few particular places, and then showing up on MeFi shortly thereafter. I saw Buster Martin and thought: "Right. Old man did the half; going for the full" and just didn't keep reading.

Hmm. Yeah. This sounds a bit of legend building since he's already known as a tough old geezer in terms of constitution.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:01 PM on March 7, 2008

Every year in Tai Po (in Hong Kong's New Territories) a restaurant celebrates centenarians with a free dinner.

One fellow claimed that abstinence is the key to long life.
posted by bwg at 4:06 PM on March 7, 2008

This guys been smoking since he was seven. That's 94 years of subjecting everyone around him to second-hand smoke. This makes him the world's oldest asshole.

My, you must live in a world full of wonder that you can hear about such a unique and interesting person and this comment is what you come up with. If this guy's the world's biggest asshole, then you best be careful, cause if you keep on like this, you'll be next runner up.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:11 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

TLF, ethnomethodologist said "oldest", not "biggest". Title's still available...

(Back when I was a smoker i.e. last week, I was careful to keep out of the way of non-smokers. Now that I'm a non-smoker i.e. this week, I wish the smugly rabid anti-smokers would do me the same courtesy...)
posted by Pinback at 6:45 PM on March 7, 2008

I share some of the skepticism about his true age. On the other hand, there are what, 60 million people in the UK? There are going to be a few people who are right out on the edge statistically. Maybe he really is a genetically freaky vigorous old coot.

Mind you, if he is faking it, part of me really admires his gall too.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:00 AM on March 8, 2008

I love seeing champion elders with their wits about them - makes me think there's hope for my own survival, especially when it's beer and cigarettes all the way.. great post.
posted by hypersloth at 4:59 AM on March 8, 2008

I completely buy it. Consider William Harvey's autopsy report on Thomas Parr (who was said to be 152). "Old Parr" was in about the same physical condition as a fifty-year old, if I recall the text of the report correctly. (Sure, lack of recorded evidence of age and all that -- it seems to go with the territory.)

Whatever Buster Martin's real age, it's great that he's still motivated, active, and interested in life.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:02 AM on March 8, 2008

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