The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

These days, the whole world admires the courage and vitality of speaker and motivator Nick Vujicic, but few people know that the Australian is not the first person who was able to achieve success without having hands and feet. More than a hundred years ago, the merchant's son Nikolai Kobelkov became a world-class star, and then a major businessman, with exactly the same physical disabilities.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

In 1851, the 17th child was born in a large family of the Ural merchant Vasily Kobelkov. The boy Nikolai, as soon as he was born, led his parents to despair. The baby had no arms or legs, just a small stump made of a humerus. Merchant Kobelkov, barely recovered from the shock, turned to the best doctors to find out what caused the deformity of his son.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

The consilium found that the cause was amniotic constrictions — fibrous threads in the fetal bladder, which literally cut off the embryo's limbs. It was impossible to return the boy's hands and feet, and the doctors offered to send the child to a home for the disabled, but Kobelkov, the owner of the Yekaterinburg gold mines, decided that the boy should not feel damaged in any way and that he had enough money to provide the disabled person with a decent life.

But Kolya, despite his peculiarity, did not feel violated in any way. At the age of 2, he began to "walk", waddling from side to side, and at three he was already playing on equal terms with the neighborhood children. Later, childhood friends of Nikolai Kobelkov recalled that at the age of five, he could even "run" and "jump".

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

As it should be, at the age of seven, Kolya went to school. He turned the pages of books with his nose, and learned to write by holding a pen between his right cheek and his stump. It was not the same as writing with his hand, so the boy's face was always smeared with ink. Because of this, the family affectionately called him "Blot".

By the age of 18, the younger Kobelkov not only graduated from school, but also learned to be an accountant. His father took him to work in an office and even gave him a salary. Smart and diligent Nikolai quickly proved to everyone that he took his place for a reason – very soon he was entrusted to keep all the accounting books of his father's mines.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

By that time, Nikolai was a completely independent young man. He knew how to sew, deftly threading a needle, fishing, independently casting a fishing rod, accurately shot with a revolver, and even managed a troika of horses, tying the reins around his head. Although Kobelkov's height was only 80 cm, none of his friends and colleagues could call him a cripple.

But most of all, Nikolai was not interested in fishing or horse racing, but in circus shows. He always looked forward to the arrival of the next circus troupe in his hometown, and the guy was interested not only in strongmen and predator tamers, but also in unusual artists who were constant participants in the show at that time.

Giants, dwarfs, bearded women, and hunchbacks were the stars of any program, and Nikolai eagerly watched what opportunities these people, who were severely treated by nature, demonstrated. At one of the fairs, an unusual guy, eagerly watching the performance, saw the entrepreneur Berg and invited him to join his troupe.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

Berg was the owner of a fairly well-known St. Petersburg circus and toured not only in Russia, but also in Europe. For Nikolai, working in the circus was a chance to leave the hateful Voznesensk and see the world, which he could only judge from books and other people's stories.

So the 20-year-old merchant's son Nikolai Kobelkov left his father's house and moved to the capital. In St. Petersburg, the debutant was waiting for a well-deserved success. People instantly bought tickets to the show, during which a man without arms and legs loaded a revolver himself and accurately shot down the flame of candles.

In addition, Kobelkov jumped from one pedestal to another, fearlessly entered the cages of lions and tigers, wrote in a calligraphic handwriting and danced. Soon, together with the Berg Circus, Nikolai went on a tour of Europe, where he also met with success.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

In 1875, after performing in Hamburg, the artist met the Viennese impresario August Schaaf and accepted his offer of cooperation. The Austrian organized Kobelkov's performances in the Vienna Prater, which was the dream of hundreds of circus performers of that time.

After the first sold-out shows in the Austrian capital, Schaaf organized a tour of Kobelkov in Europe. In Paris, Homme trone, that is, the Torso Man, became the number one star and tickets for his performances were impossible to get. Nicholas returned to Vienna famous and rich. In the Prater amusement park in Vienna, he met Anna Wilfert, the daughter of a large amusement owner, and the young people began an affair.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

Soon Nikolai proposed to the girl and she agreed. It is quite clear that her parents were not happy with such a groom, but to settle this issue helped ... the King of Saxony Albert I, who was a great admirer of Kobelkov's talents. When the monarch arrived at the Wilfert house as a matchmaker, they could not refuse him.

The wedding was held in Budapest, as in Vienna, no church wanted to marry a disabled person and a healthy girl. During the ceremony, Nicholas put the wedding ring on the bride's finger with his teeth, and the girl put the ring in the incense hanging around the groom's neck.

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

In the family of Nikolai and Anna, 11 children were born and all, despite the fears of their parents, were normal. Unfortunately, only six offspring survived – five boys and one girl. As children, Alexander, Otto, Nikolai, Paul, Ernst and daughter Helena did not often see their famous father – he was constantly on tour, and they were waiting for him in Vienna with their mother. In their teens, the boys began to get involved in circus life and even sometimes accompanied Nikolai on tour.

In 1900, Nikolai Kobelkov decided to leave the touring life and devote himself to his wife, children and their future. By this time, the artist had accumulated a solid capital, which he invested in a promising section of the Prater Park. On this territory, he built an amusement park, which quickly became a favorite holiday destination for the residents of Vienna. The newspapers admired the artist, who became a successful entrepreneur, and wrote him odes of praise:

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

Already owning a business, Kobelkov was not averse to shaking up the old days and giving several performances, which invariably gathered full halls. The artist completely refused to perform only in 1912, after the sudden death of his wife from a stroke. Evil tongues say that Nikolai Vasilyevich himself drove his beloved wife to the grave, starting to drink and make a row, but there is no confirmation of this version, so we will leave it on the conscience of the narrators.

Kobelkov was deeply affected by the death of his wife. He had not been seen in public for almost a year, and had only been seen briefly in the park office, doing paperwork. About his wife, Nikolai Vasilyevich wrote in his diary these words::

The story of Nikolai Kobelkov, or How a Russian without arms and without legs became an Austrian millionaire

Nikolai Kobelkov died in 1933, leaving his children a great business. The park brought income to the children, and then to the grandchildren of the artist and entrepreneur until 1970, when its territory was not bought for development for an impressive amount. One of our hero's grandchildren, Otto Kobelkov's son Nikolai Pasara, continues the family dynasty-he works in the entertainment industry and manages an amusement park.

Keywords: History | Celebrities | Circus | Austria | Disabled person | Business | Amusement park | Motivation

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