In his home country of Georgia they call him “the King of Travellers”. In the rest of the world they know nothing about the man named Jumber Lezhava and his beyond kickass life, incredulous push-up world-records and mind-blowing travel feats!
It is time for this to change. The short story of his life goes like this:
In the early nineties Jumber made a name as a push-up legend, breaking pretty much every push-up record in the world. Read carefully, these numbers are for real:
Jumber Lezhava made – 157 push-ups in one minute – 5011 in One hour – 19,376 in Six hours – 34,955 in Twelve hours – 44,141 in Twenty-four hours – 1,720,000 in One hundred days – and 4,800,000 that is four million eight hundred thousand for good order, in One year!!!!!!
Then, being denied the 36-hour push-up record by the Guinness World Record book, he wanted to do something else to astonish the world. So when his friend’s son told him “Uncle Jumber, if you’re so strong go around the world by bicycle”, a seed was planted and Jumber hit the road. Between 1993 and 2002 Jumber, aged 54 at the time of departure, travelled through 234 of the world’s countries and territories, totalling more than 500 thousand km of which 264 thousand by bicycle.
This guy is kickass unreal!
His full adventurous life biography is nothing short of incredible and worth the read. Here we go:
How it all started
Jumber Lezhava was born on June 23, 1939 in Tbilisi (Georgia) where he finished the Tbilisi Secondary Railway school for boys with the silver medal. He subsequently graduated from the Tbilisi Polytechnic Institute’s department of Automatics and Telemechanics. While being a student he participated in wrestling, did some body-building and was a bit of a mountain-climber, conquering several peaks of Georgia’s Caucasus mountains.
It is then that he started traveling, visiting different parts of Georgia by foot, by horse and by bicycle. He visited almost all the republics of the former Soviet Union by car and bicycle. He travelled on the Black, Azov and Baltic Seas, on the rivers Rioni, Mtkvari, Aragvi and Volga by boat and yacht.
On January 6, 1986 after one of his usual training sessions he found himself in the hospital due to severe pains. Doctors advised immediate operation with a diagnosis of ileus. They cut 3 meters of intestine out of his stomach and saved his life. During that same year, he was admitted in the hospital twice more with the same condition. The length of his intestine was reduced by one more meter but he refused to have a third operation, since the doctors couldn’t guarantee his survival. Twice he experienced clinical death.
Jumber got married to Liana Alibegashvili and founded a family. They got two daughters, who subsequently got kids making Jumber and Liana happy grantparents. Then in 1990 everything changed. His wife got an incurable virus and died and his life changed completely. Jumber found relief by going hard, really hard, on sports!
Push-up World records
As a form of mental recovery from the loss of his wife Jumber started training and doing push-ups. Many many push-ups. On September 29-30 in 1990 he performed 34,955 press-ups in 12 hours during an event in Moscow. This made him the world-record and got him an entry in the Guinness World Record Book.
In that same year he broke the record for most push-ups in one year with an astonishing 4,800,000 press-ups from floor during that year.
Two years later on 9 – 10 September, 1992 Lezhava completed 43,028 press-ups from floor during twenty four hours giving him another Guinness Record Book Entry.
His personal push-up records are listed below. Read carefully, these are the real numbers.
One minute — 157.
One hour — 5011.
Six hours — 19,376.
Twelve hours — 34,955.
Twenty-four hours — 44,141.
One hundred days — every day 17,300 pushups; Total 1,720,000 pushups
One year — every day 12/13,000 push ups totaling 4,800,000 that is four million eight hundred thousand for good order.
At one point Jumber wanted to set a new 36 hour record in press-ups, but the Guinness representatives refused him, claiming that doing press-ups during 36 hours would be inhuman for the body.
Jumber set aside his disappointment and started looking for new challenges. “What can I do, to astonish the world?” he asked himself.
Jumber recounts that time:
At one point my friend’s son – Rati Kikacheishvili told me: “Uncle Jumber, if you’re so strong why don’t you go around the world by bicycle…?!”
It was a wonderful idea and almost immediately I began preparing myself. I researched the route and prepared a bicycle. I was very much interested in the lives and customs of people around the world, the different approaches to lead a healthy life, to improve their environment, establish freedom and the cultural relations and links among countries around the globe.
I wanted to learn about other culture’s healthy lifestyle approaches but I also wanted to show the world my own method using push-ups. With a bicycle as my mode of healthy transport I wanted to show others that doing push-ups will improve people’s soul and physical health and defend them from different diseases.
I started my long travels from Rustavi (a town near the capital of Georgia-Tbilisi) in August, 1993 at the respectable age of 54. Several hours before starting I saw my wife in a dream; Liana smiled and said to me: “I believe in you Jumber.”
Jumber traveled unaccompanied for 3573 days (just under 10 years) through 234 nations and island states – and all of their capitals – covering more than 500 thousand km; Of which 264 thousand by bicycle, and the rest of it by air and sea.
That’s more than a quarter of a million kilometres on a bicycle. Or more than seven times round the Earth’s circumference.
He has broken no fewer than eleven Guinness world records for cycling (and push-ups), the certificates for which he proudly shows anyone who wants to see them. They are displayed alongside a stack of stamp-filled passports and an official document giving him diplomatic status — in effect, the ability to travel pretty much anywhere on his otherwise very restricted Georgian passport.
Some of the things Lumber did were sheer madness: Once he’d cycled a hundred miles out into the Antarctic-ice-nothingness starting from an Argentinian research station, only to be turned back by the security officials at the British post;
He hacked himself a way through the Amazon rainforest between Brazil and French Guyana with his bike on his back;
He was shot and chased by Kalashnikov-wielding guerillas in Swaziland;
He had had to fend off doctors who wanted to amputate his gangrenous legs;
For long times on his bicycle travels he survived on bread and raw garlic only, interspersed, often and luckily, by the hospitality of strangers he had met along the way.
It doesn’t surprise us he was friends with fellow-adventure-madman Leonid Mikula who rode a DIY amphibious Velocatamaran from Turkmenistan to Cape Chelyuskin.
He still regrets the fact that he wasn’t able to visit every country on the planet.
“For certain reasons six countries refused to receive me. These countries were: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Brunei, North Korea and Libya. But I hope that sooner or later I’ll visit them and set another record: the one to have visited ALL countries of the World.
My travelling was full of funny, dangerous and at the same time very interesting occurrences. I survived more than 132 times an attack of either animal, reptile or people (I kept strict record of such happenings).
During my travels I slept in many different places: in stations, in the hollows of big trees, in prisons and hospitals, on the rooftops of houses, sea beaches, in the shrouds, jungles, deserts and hotels as well.
I covered up to 100-120 km daily. I set a world record at the central stadium of Santiago, Chile having cycled 354 km in 12 hours and I broke the Guinness Record for most push-ups per minute in Switzerland (135 exercises a minute).
In wintertime I traversed Greenland, Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, the Gobi Desert, Alaska and I visited Antarctica twice with a lowest temperature of minus 34°C.
During the hot summertime I crossed the deserts Sahara, Tari and Kalahari, Brazil and Mexico (max temp +51°C).
I used bicycles manufactured by four companies: a Ukrainian touring bicycle troughout Asia Minor and Arabia (17 000 km); an Italian Benotto in Asia, Australia and South America (12 500 km); a Taiwanese Giant in East Asia and North America (30 000 km); and an American Cannondale in the whole of Africa, Europe and Middle Asia (100 000 km).
I crossed the equator riding my bicycle 11 times: in Indonesia, Ecuador, Brazil, Gabon, Congo, Zaire, Uganda, Kenya, near Kiribati Islands on a ship and above Nauru and New Guinea by airplane.
I was registered at police stations approximately 4000 times. I have filled 95 video cassettes with footage. I have made about 70 thousand photos which have been published in over 2000 journals and newspapers.
I have crossed three Oceans, about 140 seas, more than 800 rivers and lakes and about 30 deserts. I visited over 50 islands and passed through about 10 thousand cities and villages, where I made friends with lots of people.