Francis the Fat of Habsburg, performing under the pseudonym “Happy Jack”
Francis IV of Habsburg
Gold Medal, Body Opulence
Go outside in any city in 2012, and you’ll be hard-pressed to walk six meters without spotting a jogger, biker, or other exercise enthusiast. Physical fitness is valued in modern society, and a chiseled physique in every western nation. But this wasn’t the case in the late 1800s, when obesity was a sign of great wealth and status. Back then, a thin body meant poverty, and was considered shameful. Even the pornography industry, which today emphasizes a slim figure and agility, was dominated by the obese at the turn of the century, and anyone seeking out thin performers was considered a strange fetishist. This attitude was reflected by “Quiero une esposa quien siempre consume!”, a hit Spanish tune whose title translates to “I want a wife who always eats!”
Small wonder, then, that “body opulence” was one of the most compelling event at international sporting competitions. The quest to become the world’s most perfect fat man consumed many of the great athletes of the time, who sought international fame and glory through practiced gluttony.
Chief among these aspiring heroes was Francis the Fat, a member of the famous Habsurg house of Austria, son of Archduke Karl Ludwig and older brother of future Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 would spark World War One. Early on in Francis’ life, it became clear that he was a slothful underachiever who would never be fit to rule a house, much less a kingdom. His parents encouraged him to find a hobby to occupy his days, and after trying ice skating, debate, and competitive masturbating (a brief phenomenon in Austria at the time), Francis discovered body opulence. He took to it at once, proving a natural at the rigorous eating and sitting around regimen required to be among the best in the world.
When the 1896 Olympics in Athens rolled around, Francis was already considered an international playboy. His training leading up to the Games was impressive, utilizing a revolutionary diet of “chocolate sandwiches” at a time when the fatty content of bread was not fully appreciated. He came into the Games at a robust 854 pounds, and had to be conveyed on a palanquin manned by 24 servants of the Habsburg house (sadly, four of them died from heat exhaustion on the long journey from Austria, making the task even more arduous from the 20 remaining servants).
Over 100 men entered the body opulence competition at Panathinaiko Stadium (where Eamon O’Farrell had just shocked the world by refusing to use a live horse during the pommel horse event), and half were quickly eliminated by the 11 judges for not exceeding the 500-pound weight limit. Those that remained underwent a series of rigorous tests and examinations to prove their worth. Judges walked them in a circle, measured their roundness with a hoop device, and examined their fat folds for signs of mold or other rot. After their testicles were hefted, the judges watched each contestant eat a full pie to ensure fast digestion and “food-enthusiasm.” Then each contestant was led into a trot, showcasing the vibrations of their excess body fat, to the delight of the crowd assembled. One by one, contestants were eliminated until only four remained. This last quartet was then clad in frilly women’s clothing, including booties, and asked to pick a name. Francis the Fat chose “Happy Jack,” and his flouncing maneuvers in the flounce-trot that followed impressed all 11 judges.
It came down to the final event, the “gadfly,” where the judges taunted and teased each of the remaining competitor with sticks until they flew into a ‘fat rage,’ screaming and shaking their fists as they tried to reach their tormenters in vain before collapsing and panting in the midday heat. The crowd went insane for their antics, and fell particularly in love with Francis the Fat, who tried to kick a judge and fell over backward.
When it was all over, the awarding of the gold medal was a formality. Francis the Fat had won, and he celebrated in style that night by eating until he vomited all over his 20 servants. They conveyed him back to Austria the next day to what would have been a hero’s welcome, but became so exhausted so quickly that they struck up a mutiny and murdered Francis the Fat by the shores of the Haliacmon River, where his body was said to feed the wildlife for an entire year.