Robin Hood’s character is known for being a form of vigilante. He stole from the rich to give to the poor. He’s been portrayed in both television and films several times, including a hilarious Mel Brooks version in Robin Hood Men In Tights. Although Robin Hood wasn’t actually real, there have been several real-life individuals who have taken his ideologies on board.
Janosik lived a pretty crazy life and spent some of it as the leader of a group of bandits. In true Robin Hood style, he would steal from aristocrats and the rich merchants of towns, and distribute the stolen goods between the bandits and the poor. Although he was a thief, he was not a bad guy, and never killed, or even hurt anyone during his exploits.
Basil The Blessed
Existing under several different monikers including fool for Christ or Wonderworker of Moscow, Basil was known for being a “charitable shoplifter,” meaning that he stole from rich and greedy shop owners and gave his loot to those impoverished and in need. After this, he was considered a Russian Orthodox saint.
According to Japanese folklore, Nakamura was a double agent, working as a firefighter during the day and a thief during the night. When he was caught, and arrested, none of the money could be found which is apparently because he had shared it out among the poor before being executed.
Seeing as he was a Colombian drug lord and trafficker, Pablo seems like a bit of a bad egg. Especially considering the fact that he was responsible for around 80% of all cocaine smuggled into the United States. However, he spread his profits around to those poorer than himself, ensuring schools, hospitals, houses and churches were built in his area.
Pancho Villa shows that no one is all good, or all bad. He was certainly a thief and apparently a murderer too, but the money, cattle, and corn that he had stolen, he distributed to the poor of Mexico. He donated to orphanages and charities that helped children too.
Scottish-born Scotty was a cattle rustler and horse thief – a career he embarked upon after being part of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police. He stole only from the wealthy but shared his gains, mostly with women (he loved a damsel in distress!) who were kind to him by giving him shelter.
In 1943, during the Allied invasion of Sicily, Salvatore Giuliano spent a lot of time smuggling grain via the black market. During his arrest, he ended up killing a policeman and had to go on the run. He formed a banditry of 50 men who stole from the rich and gave food and weapons to those hungry, sick and or elderly. That said, he also killed many times, so swings and roundabouts.
Not all of our Robin Hood’s are men. Phoolan Devi’s life was pretty awful, including an abusive husband (when she was just 11!) and being punished for a crime she didn’t commit. She formed her own gang who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. After 11 years in jail, she was elected to the Indian Parliament where she worked to provide water, schools, and hospitals to the poor and fight for women’s rights.
Another woman Robin Hood, Leonarda robbed travelers dressed as a man. After the deed was done, she would flash her naked torso to show her victims that they had been robbed by a woman. She was known to have given a large portion of her money to the poor.
Italian bandit Felix was very intelligent and would only ever steal from rich nobles, and always leave the poor safe. He was an advocate for masters to pay their slaves better so that they did not have to turn to a life of banditry.
Edward “Ned” Kelly
All-round criminal, Ned began his life of crime stealing horses and moved on to robbing banks. It was then that he wrote a letter manifesto to the Australian elite, demanding that they look after the poor, lower classes better.
Rob Roy MacGregor
In 17th Century Scotland, Rob Roy MacGregor, and his wife and children were evicted by the Duke of Montrose which started a life of banditry aimed entirely towards the Duke himself. According to legend, some of the money stolen from the Duke was redistributed among the poor by MacGregor.
Known as The “Pothole Robin Hood,” Ron is a little different to most of those on our list in that he doesn’t steal money, but asphalt. He uses the stolen material to fill in potholes around the streets of Jackson, Mississippi and marks them with arrows and graffiti which says “Citizen Fixed.”
Dr. Ozel Clifford Brazil
Clergyman Brazil was affected by the Detroit riots of 1967 and the LA riots of 1992 and vowed to help thousands of African-American teenagers get into college via student-aid fraud. He forged finances of families who could not send their children to college or apply for financial aid. He was sent to serve 3.5 years in prison in 2003 and ordered to pay $716,000 in restitution to the government. Ouch!
Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo
The craziest thing about this Robin Hood was that he was actually the Mayor of Marinaleda, Spain. He and his supporters raided local supermarkets, in the summer of 2012, armed with a megaphone from which he yelled support. There is such a high level of unemployment and people struggling to eat that Mayor Gordillo had had enough – luckily for him, he was protected by political immunity.
A bit of an odd one, David Bastar of New York robbed a bread truck, wearing just his undies (because, of course!). He stole an incredible $8,000 worth of baked goods and decided to make some actual deliveries while he was in the truck. He then threw loaves of bread to the homeless on the streets before being arrested. A strange night, you have to admit!
The Holy Thugs
Not quite the Merry Men, but these Venezuelan “heroes: were big in the 60’s, and 70’s for robbing food trucks and distributing it among the needy locals. The leader of the gang was Ismael Sanchez, and the group even have a shrine at the Cementerio General del Sur to commemorate their questionably “good” deeds.
Known as “Boss Yu,” this Chinese man was known for being a philanthropist who donated considerable amounts of money to charities and welfare houses. Where did he get this money? Well, it seems he was a pretty successful burglar, robbing jewelry and technology worth around $81,000! Yu also made sure to look after himself too, of course, living in a five-star hotel for several months!