It’s a unique gig, getting shot out of a cannon. Want to make it even more unique? Do it in China. At the world’s largest permanent circus.
That’s exactly what 28-year-old Jon Cole did for two years. In June 2011, he left with his wife, Jenny, and their two young kids to become the first human cannonball to ever perform the act in China’s history.
At the same time, he became one of fewer than 10 human cannonball acts in the world.
How did the Peru native end up on the far side of the world? It’s a winding road that led him to China and into the history books, and it begins in Peru — the self-proclaimed “Circus Capital of the World.”
When he was 5 years old, his parents decided against signing Jon up for baseball. Instead they enrolled him in the Peru youth circus as a kiddy clown.
At the age of 7, Jon started performing actual circus acts, and eventually worked his way up to the flying trapeze.
“I loved it. My older sister kind of fell out of it, but I was the kid who was totally into it,” he said.
Jon was a first-generation performer, and he meshed with the circus scene. After high school, he went to Indiana Wesleyan University, where he received a degree in physical and health education.
Right after graduating from college, The Flying Pages offered him a spot in their flying trapeze act. Jon jumped at the chance and hit the road for the next year traveling with group.
Then it was back to Peru. Jon landed a job at Carroll High School teaching P.E. and gym. He also started dating Jenny while they were both working as coaches at the Peru amateur circus. They married after he stopped performing with The Flying Pages.