Steve Schmidt of Leslie lifts 220.5 pounds with his teeth on his way to setting a Guinness record Saturday at Clark’s Championship Gym as owner Bill Clark keeps time with a stopwatch.
Clark’s Championship Gym feels like it’s out of another era. It has giant dumbbells with spherical weights like those in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. It has a power rack that looks like a medieval torture device, and the gym’s walls are covered with names written in black marker documenting unusual feats of strength.
The dusty gymnasium on Grace Lane seemed to be the perfect place for an attempt at a world record fit for an old-time, circus strongman.
Yesterday morning, Steve Schmidt, a cattle rancher from the Franklin County town of Leslie, tried to break a Guinness record for lifting 100 kilograms, or 220.5 pounds, the most times in one minute using his teeth. The record, set four years ago by a man from Luxembourg, is 24.
Schmidt is the nation’s undisputed “teeth-lifting champion,” weightlifting expert Bill Clark said, and his achievements include pulling a tractor-trailer for a city block and bending everything from horseshoes to metal bolts using his teeth.
“I think everybody has gifts, and this is his God-given gift,” said Schmidt’s wife, Kathleen. “And when you couple that with his intensive training routine, he’s just awesome.”
Yesterday, with friends, family and camera crews watching, Schmidt placed a leather strap in his mouth and attached it by a chain and a metal hook to a stack of weights on the ground.
A strand of rope stretched 6 inches above the floor confirmed the height of each repetition as two separate stopwatches kept time. At the sound of a whistle, Schmidt began lifting the weights at a rapid pace. When he reached 21 reps, he paused and took several deep breaths, eliciting cheers of encouragement from about two dozen spectators.
Then Schmidt continued at an even faster clip. At the end of one minute, Schmidt had done 50 repetitions, more than doubling the previous record.
Schmidt later said he felt winded and was sure his neck would be sore in the morning but said he could do even more reps.
“I’ve kind of left the door open. You probably saw I could have done a few more,” he said. “I figure I could get another 10 more if somebody tries to push me.”
Schmidt received a copy of Guinness World Records as a Christmas gift and, while thumbing through the pages, spotted the teeth-lifting record. He went out the next day and broke the record by himself and said he has eclipsed it nearly every time he has tried since then.
He said all of his teeth are his own, and he credits his dental strength to the fact that he drinks only well water — no fluoride — and brushes his teeth with a coconut-oil mixture. After breaking the record, Schmidt bent several horseshoes and bolts in his mouth for the cheering crowd.