The legend told the story of a Saiyan with unlimited power who had existed a millenium prior.
The assumption that many Saiyans had was that any Saiyan becoming a Super Saiyan was an extremely rare event, and only being a possible transformation for the stronger individuals of the race. When a Saiyan achieved the state of Super Saiyan, it was said that his pure heart would be overcome by rage, resulting in this radical transformation. The Super Saiyan legend was known by many races, and was considered the strongest being in the galaxy.
Because the Super Saiyan transformation had not been demonstrated by any Saiyan in recorded history, most races that had heard the legend of the Super Saiyan dismissed it as simple mythology, even most Saiyans. This was until several Saiyans emerged that possessed physical potential that had rapidly evolved beyond their known natural limits. The galactic overlord Freeza also had dismissed it as simple legend until he witnessed a genetically weaker Saiyan defeat one of his elite warriors. As a result, Freeza realize that a Super Saiyan emerging was a possibility. Fearing the Saiyans, he destroyed the race and their planet.
However, four Saiyans escaped the destruction (three more would be added from the movies), and one of the four would ascend to the legendary form and use it to defeat Freeza. The original four Saiyans who escaped the destruction were Goku, Vegeta, Raditz and Nappa. Two of them would procreate to produce male Saiyan/Human hybrids.
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