It hasn’t been scientifically proven (yet) that dudes with facial hair are way more badass than those without, but these hirsute heroes certainly make a case for it.
The Social Climber
By most accounts, Grigori Rasputin was a notorious badass who worked his way up from poverty in late 19th Century Siberia to the highest echelons of Russian society to become a confidant of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna (who he may also have been seeing on the side).
Rumors about the man's insatiable eye for ladies combined with fears that he may actually be an envoy of the devil and not a holy man as he claimed, using magic to exert influence over the royal family.
After years of debauchery with Russian groupies and zero respect for the upper class, locals finally had enough and it took an evening of cyanide poisoning, being shot twice, hit in the face with a shoe, then being thrown into a river to finally kill him, where he actually died of hypothermia (not drowning).
Facial Hair: Wild
William Tecumseh Sherman
The Unrelenting War Machine
A controversial military strategist and general for the Union during the Civil War, Sherman decimated the Confederate Army with his scorched-earth style of warfare – basically, ruin everything in your path that could be used as a resource by your enemy.
Unfortunately, this mercilessly included civilian property. The guy dick-punched his way through the South like an unstoppable Yankee juggernaut.
Even during military school he was never one for adhering to the rules, giving the finger to the demerit system and grooming etiquette while remaining one of the brightest students at West Point.
Despite being a less than jovial man, during December of 1864 Sherman famously wrote a letter to Lincoln saying “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton” after capturing the city. Awfully nice of him.
Facial Hair: Gruff
While performing outside a UK pub in 1849, Jem Mace, a young violinist, had his instrument snatched and smashed in front of him by three drunken fisherman. Instead of crying his eyes out, he viciously beat the crap out of all three and switched careers from musician to bare-knuckle boxer.
As well as being the first fighter to really dance around the ring and use footwork in the modern sense, in 1863 Mace invented a crowd-pleasing, ferocious little move he liked to call ‘the knockout’.
By upper-cutting fighter Joe Goss so hard that he twirls around on the spot then collapses straight forward like a plank, Mace had given the future world of MMA a gift that prevents it from just being two dudes rolling about on the floor in their underwear.
Remaining quick with his fists into old age, at 73 years old Mace knocked out a dude who was catcalling women in a Melbourne hotel, then thew him out the front door, Jazzy Jeff/Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air Style. He continued as an exhibition fighter until 78 (!) years of age.
Facial Hair: Rock-hard ‘stash
Sir Edmund Hillary was an explorer, mountaineer, sometime beard-owner, and beekeeper. The New Zealander, along with Tibetan climber Tenzing Norgay, was the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. No mean feat, but this antipodean asskicker wasn’t going to limit himself to just one incredible adventure.
Despite continuous disapproval from his superiors, he went on to do something even cooler: lead a party to the South Pole. By tractor.
The vehicle of choice was a converted Ferguson ‘Fergie TE20’ with the roof removed and a top road speed of 25mph. Because if you’re going to do something absolutely bonkers, you may as well take your time about it.
From their initial base, it took the team 14 days puttering through the coldest place on earth peppered with dangerous crevasses before they radioed back the code word ‘rhubarb’ to let everyone know they’d made it.
Facial Hair: Frostbitten
An ambidextrous gunslinger, former slave, and bi-lingual badass-about-town, well known for his impeccable duds and giant hat, Bass Reeves was most importantly one of the first black deputies to be appointed in America. As an imposing figure astride his white horse, Reeves wore two guns butt-forwards at all times (for a quicker draw) and used them to kill 14 felons in self-defense and arrest 3,000 more.
He was also a master of disguise with keen detective skills, unafraid to use action when needed. At one point he was cornered by two outlaws who he intended to arrest, and instead of panicking, he claimed he was illiterate and asked them to read him a letter from his wife, as a last wish.
When they reached for the paper and began to read Reeves turned the tables, whipping out his gun and taking them into custody. Whether he triumphantly yelled “pysch,” we’ll never know.
He was also famously incorruptible, even bringing in his own son for murder during his three decades of service.
Facial Hair: Justifiably handle-barred
But yeah, your beard is pretty good, too. We guess.