Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, is upon us and when the clock strikes midnight on the night of Thursday, February 11 (or the morning of Friday, February 12) it will officially be the Year of the Ox.
Occupying the second spot in the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Ox comes after the Rat and ahead of the Tiger. Hardworking, dependable, simple, honest, dedicated to their work, enduring, intelligent and disciplined, Oxen make great lawyers, doctors, teachers, authors, social workers, police officers, politicians and consultants.
Below, in no particular order, we give you 10 infamous people born in the Year of the Ox:
1. Pablo Escobar
“El Padrino was Señor Pablo Escobar. And for those of you living on the moon for the last 20 years, he was it, the boss of it all, El Magico.” So says Johnny Depp’s character George Jung in the movie Blow. Born in 1949, as the founder and sole leader of the Medellín Cartel, Escobar monopolized the cocaine trade into the US in the 1980s and early 1990s. In order to get there – and stay there – he battled rival cartels and killed police officers, judges, prominent politicians and civilians alike, making Colombia the murder capital of the world. By the time of his death, ‘The King of Cocaine’ was the wealthiest criminal in the history of the world, having amassed an estimated net worth of US$30 billion – double that and add some more for its equivalent today. But crime didn't pay in the end – he was shot in the head in his hometown by Colombian National Police, a day after his 44th birthday.
2. Carole Baskin
“Hey all you cool cats and kittens!” Born on June 6, 1961, ‘That B*tch’ Carole Baskin, as she is referred to by arch-rival and would-be architect of her murder, Joe Exotic, shot to fame last year with the release of Netflix documentary series Tiger King. With a millionaire husband who mysteriously disappeared, and Baskin prevailing as the primary beneficiary, rumors of feeding him to her felines continue to swirl – sardine oil-soaked shoes is the way to do it apparently, while his children have publically criticized investigators for not running a DNA test on Baskin’s meat grinder. Whatever the truth, Baskin remains at liberty, a big cat rights activist and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, a non-profit animal sanctuary based near Tampa, Florida.
3. Pol Pot
Born Saloth Sar on May 19, 1925, Pol Pot is as infamous as they come. As Brother Number One, the leader of the Khmer Rouge, he transformed Cambodia into a one-party state renamed Democratic Kampuchea (1976-79). Seeking to create an egalitarian agrarian socialist society that he believed would evolve into a communist society, the urban population was forcibly relocated to the countryside to work on collective farms, money was abolished and all citizens were made to wear the same black clothing. Those the Khmer Rouge regarded as enemies were killed.
In just four years, these mass killings, coupled with malnutrition and poor medical care, were responsible for up to two million deaths – approximately a quarter of the country’s population – in what has come to be known as the Cambodian genocide. After a newly unified Vietnam invaded Cambodia and toppled the Pol Pot regime in 1979, the Khmer Rouge retreated to the jungles near the Thai border, from where they continued to fight. In declining health, Pol Pot slowly stepped back from many of his roles in the movement. In 1998, Khmer Rouge commander Ta Mok placed him under house arrest, and he died soon after – whether of heart failure or suicide remains a source of speculation.
4. Bill Cosby
Born on July 12, 1937 Bill Cosby was once known as ‘America’s Dad’ – his role as the benevolent, jumper-wearing Dr. Cliff Huxtable in top-rated 1980s hit sitcom The Cosby Show made him a national treasure in the US and famous across the world. He is now known as a serial sex offender, after more than 60 women came forward to accuse him of everything from drug-facilitated sexual assault to rape to child sexual abuse, dating back to the 1960s. He was finally found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault in September 2018, and sentenced to three to 10 years in prison. He is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution – Phoenix in Pennsylvania.
5. Maggie Thatcher
Born in 1925, grocer’s daughter Margaret Hilda Roberts went on to be the first female British prime minister, and the longest-serving UK PM of the 20th century. She was also surely the most divisive, due to her policies that became known as Thatcherism – marked by deregulation of the financial sector, the privatization of state-owned companies and reducing the power and influence of trade unions. She led Britain into the 1982 Falklands War, clashed with the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1984–85 miners’ strike, introduced the Poll Tax and survived an assassination attempt by the Provisional IRA. True to her declaration, “there’s no such thing as society,” she even snatched milk from children. A ‘Marmite’ figure – you either loved her or you hated her – on her death in 2013 she received the rare honor of a ceremonial funeral, including full military honors (putting her up there with Princess Diana) with a church service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
6. Saddam Hussein
Born in 1937, ‘The Butcher of Baghdad’ served as the fifth President of Iraq from 1979 until he was overthrown in 2003. His rule was one of a repressive dictator; the total number of Iraqis killed by his security services in various purges and genocides is conservatively estimated to be 250,000. His invasions of Iran (1980) and Kuwait (1990) resulted in hundreds of thousands of more deaths. Eventually his greed, defiance, murderous ways and narcissism – he compared himself with historical figures such as Saladin, King Nebuchadnezzar II and even the Prophet Muhammad – led him to the gallows. He was executed by hanging in 2006.
7. Monica Lewinsky
Let’s get this clear – Monica Lewinsky herself is not infamous. Born in 1973, she was just 22 years old when in 1995, as a White House intern, she caught the eye of the most powerful man in the world, 49-year-old US President Bill Clinton. A very questionable power dynamic, and then some. What is infamous, however, is her semen-stained blue Gap dress, the result of one of her nine sexual encounters with Clinton in the Oval Office. Seeming to contradict his statement that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky,” it led to Clinton’s impeachment in 1998. He survived Zippergate, but the blue dress lives on in infamy.
8. George Floyd
Once again, associated with an infamous event rather than infamous himself. George Perry Floyd Jr., born in 1973, was the African American man killed in Minneapolis last year by Derek Chauvin, after the white police officer had knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Handcuffed face down in the street, during the final two minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse. He had been arrested after a store clerk alleged he had passed a counterfeit USD20 bill. After footage of the incident taken by bystanders was shared, protests against police brutality – especially toward black people – spread from Minneapolis to cities throughout all 50 US states, and then across the world.
“Rap’s most controversial man,” according to Spin magazine, XXXTentacion was born Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy on January 23, 1998. One of Generation Z’s most talented hip hop stars, his music was driven on themes revolving around depression and alienation, and his ascent marked by violence; beatdowns, beefs and horrific abuse. He stabbed his own manager over royalty fees, pistol-whipped a man for his PlayStation Portable during a home invasion and was arrested on charges of false imprisonment, witness tampering and aggravated battery of a pregnant ex-girlfriend. Maybe karma caught up with him – on June 18, 2018, XXXTentacion was fatally shot in a robbery at a motorcycle dealership in Florida. He was 20 years old.
Born in 1901, Sukarno is credited with leading Indonesia’s nationalist movement during the Dutch colonial period. Sukarno would go on to become Indonesia’s first president from 1949 to 1966. In the 1950s, he ordained ‘Guided Democracy’ and ‘Guided Economy,’ which signified a shift from democracy and free enterprise to dictatorship. His policies – along with a general disinterest in economics – led to the deterioration of the Indonesian economy and put Sukarno out of favor with the people. Following a bloody coup in 1965, Sukarno delegated powers to General Suharto, who would go on to become the next president. He died in Jakarta in 1970 at age 69.
Sukarno bio by Ryan Gandolfo.
READ MORE: 20 Famous People Born in the Year of the Ox
[All images via Wikimedia]