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Coming on strong

Metal objects take on new forms in hands, teeth of Missouri farmer
Sunday, July 22, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:01 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Steve Schmidt, a 52-year-old beef farmer from Leslie, bites into a license plate Saturday at a demonstration he put on at the Show-Me State Games’ powerlifting competition. He has been competing as a strongman since 1977.

Missouri strongman Steve Schmidt, 52, had a room full of broad-shouldered powerlifters stunned as he ripped a license plate in two.

Schmidt took a 1979 white license plate in his gloved left hand and placed the rest of it between his teeth protected by a leather mouth guard. Within a minute he had shredded it in two, as if it were a piece of junk mail.

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Schmidt prided himself on tearing a metal license plate.

“It’s an old metal plate,” Schmidt said. “It’s not one of those new flimsy ones.”

The cafeteria of John B. Lange Middle School was converted to a weight room on Saturday. Tables where pushed aside, and competitors took the stage for their chance to have the strongest bench press or deadlift in Missouri. The Show-Me State Games’ powerlifting competition drew close to a hundred bodybuilders. Schmidt, a beef farmer from Leslie, Mo., was on hand to give a metal-bending demonstration and to judge parts of the event.

Saturday started with 95 people in the bench press competition. The scores for six heats were being added up when Schmidt took the stage to bend objects such as steel rods, and horse shoes.

Schmidt, who stands 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs 215 pounds, has been competing in strongman events since 1977. He started his show with a 3-foot, hot-rolled steel bar. Within a few minutes he twisted it into a bow by holding in his teeth and bending both ends across each other with his hands.

It was a souvenir that 12-year-old Chris Calvert of Hallsville was able to pick up after the show. Calvert said he doesn’t think any of his friends will believe how the rod got its shape.

“It’s pretty unbelievable,” he said. “Someone just asked if he could bend it back to the way it was and back again. Then he did it.”

Schmidt trains the muscles in his mouth, jaw and neck by using a modified leather bite and dead-lifting weights about once every five days. The last time Schmidt went to see a dentist was for a check up in 1998, and he still has all his teeth.

One of his biggest accomplishments is being the only person ever to bend a No. 6 horseshoe in his mouth. He wasn’t told to bring a No. 6 on Saturday but did show up with a No. 5. The gauge of metal is just slightly different in the two shoes, and only one other person can bend the No. 5 according to Schmidt.

Schmidt, who has already pulled semi-trucks and freight train cars in his career, wants to return to Columbia to do more.

“I want to pull a 100 thousand pounds of rail cars,” Schmidt said. “I’ve done 60 thousand, and I’m trying to arrange (100) with the coal plant.”


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