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10 Amazing Circus Families


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The Uriases
A man rides his motorcycle around a colleague standing inside a round steel cage at the Jan Baz circus in Pakistan. Many people have copied this act pioneered by the Uriases. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
A man rides his motorcycle around a colleague standing inside a round steel cage at the Jan Baz circus in Pakistan. Many people have copied this act pioneered by the Uriases. Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

In 1912, José Urias built what he dubbed the "Globe of Death." A 16-foot- (5-meter-) diameter metal mesh orb, Urias used it as the basis for his motorcycle stunt -- zooming around its interior at breakneck speed. Urias performed in his globe all across America and beyond. Soon his sons joined him, then his grandsons. Today, Urias' great-grandsons and their families are still performing in his original Globe of Death, riding customized 125 cc motorcycles inside it at speeds up to 60 mph (96 kph). The family has toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on and off since 1978, where their act is a fan favorite [sources: Ringling, Urias Globe of Death]. Along the way, the Uriases have piled up an impressive list of "firsts."

The family was the first to place a woman in the globe's center while motorcycles raced around; the first to feature a female motorcycle rider (in the early 1960s); the first and only to feature two female riders (the 1970s); and the first to stick three motorcycles and a woman in the globe. One trick features Jodie Urias performing a neck spin while hoisted by rope, as her family members careen on bikes inches away. Though other motorcycle acts have come along, it looks like the Urias family tradition will continue; one of José Urias' great-grandsons has two children, a girl and boy [sources: Ringling, Urias Globe of Death].