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January 25, 1954 |
|Other names||Sharkman, Tarzan|
Manny "Sharkman" Puig (born 25 January 1954) is an American wildlife entertainer. Puig is known for his direct approach when dealing with dangerous animals such as sharks, black bears and American alligators. He has made frequent appearances on the television shows Jackass and Wildboyz and also on the Animal Planet show Gator Boys.
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Puig was born in Cuba in 1954, but he and his mother immigrated to Florida, where he became interested in wildlife. Spear fishing off the Florida Keys inspired him. In his youth, Puig traveled into the Everglades with only a frying pan and a shotgun. He learned to hunt deer at an early age and started hand-catching small American alligators underwater in his teens.
In the late 1990s, Puig worked with Mehgan Heaney-Grier and Mark Rackley, both in training her as a free diver and in filming underwater encounters with animals such as alligators and sharks. Rackley worked as a spearfisherman and underwater videographer. Puig had experience as an animal handler on movie sets and had learned how to ride and handle alligators in their environment. The trio formed a company named Extreme Encounters.
Puig advocates a basic approach to wildlife and denounces the use of safety gear such as cages, protective clothing and diving apparatus. He states that he has a great respect for the Native Americans because of their interaction with the land and their survival skills. His interests also include history, art and geography documentaries. He spends his free time working on sculpting, hand-crafting medieval weapons and hunting tools.
Puig has appeared on the television program Jackass, in Jackass The Movie, Jackass Number Two, and Jackass 3D. In these projects, he is credited as an expert on predatory animals. One of Puig's stunts is featured in the second film, where he dives with Steve-O around hammerhead and other dangerous sharks. Steve-O recalled the segment in his autobiography, stating: "The following day, Pontius and I were scheduled to swim with great hammerhead sharks, accompanied by Manny....with the butt piercing wound still fresh, swimming with sharks might not have been very smart, but Manny wasn't worried about it....In retrospect, the fact that Manny was the arbiter of what was safe and reasonable is hilarious. He hatched and okayed plenty of ideas that were clearly not okay. So you knew if he said no to something, that meant "FUCK NO!" As it happened, Manny had no problem sending us swimming with great hammerheads." 
Puig is also featured on the MTV program Wildboyz, where he resumes the role of a predatory-animal expert. Some of Puig's stunts on Wildboyz include having a snapping turtle lock onto his hand. According to Chris Pontius on the special features of one of the Wildboyz DVDs, he heard Puig scream for the first time in his life when he had the snapping turtle bite his hand in the Deep South, United States.
After finishing the second Jackass movie and with the final season of Wildboyz having completed, Puig produced his own film entitled Ultimate Predator. The film shows him interacting particularly with sharks. The film also features adventures with Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and Jeff Tremaine.
Puig was featured on the Outdoor Channel show called Savage Wild. The episodes of Savage Wild take place in the Everglades and surrounding environs near Miami, Florida and range from Manny hunting a wild boar with only a rudimentary spear, or carefully maneuvering through the water with a monster alligator, or handling highly venomous wild snakes, such as water moccasins, in their natural environment. One of his amazing feats is his ability to sneak up right in front of an alligator under water and grab hold of the alligators skin under its jaw and hold on as the alligator thrashes about under water and leaping out trying to bite and shake him off. The cameraman is just as daring as he dips into the murky water to film Puig's feats in the unknown. The show aired for seven episodes in 2009, and its future is uncertain.
- Manny Puig- An Evening with a Spearing Guru Freedive Blog. March 12, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
- Dreaming of the Deep: The Life of Manny Puig (Video) Outdoor Channel. 24 July 2014.
- Nielsen, Kirk (1998-01-15). "Do Not Try This at Home!". Miami New Times.
- Tresniowski, Alex (1997-09-08). "Diving Belle". Retrieved 2010-02-28.
- TV Survival Dreaming of the Deep: The Life of Manny Puig (video) Outdoor Channel. 24 July 2014.
- Stephen "Steve-O" Glover, 2011, "Professional Idiot: A Memoir, pp. 133-134.