by Al Myers
Since the announcement of the Teeth Lift in the Dino Challenge in January it has received some discussion in the USAWA discussion forum. Probably the “most talk” the Teeth Lift has ever received in the USAWA! The inclusion of the Teeth Lift in the WLT Dino Challenge will be the first time the Teeth Lift has been contested in a USAWA competition. To date it has only been contested by a few lifters in Record Days. Here’s a little “refresher” on the USAWA rules of the Teeth Lift:
USAWA Rule I19. Teeth Lift
The setup for this lift requires a mouthpiece fitted to the lifter’s bite, a connecting chain, and a Vertical Bar to load plates to. The hands may not touch the mouthpiece, chain, or Vertical Bar during the lift. The lift begins at the lifter’s discretion. The weight may accidentally touch the legs during the lift, but the connecting chain must not touch any part of the body. The hands may brace on the legs and body during the lift, but must be free from the body upon completion of the lift. The width of feet placement is optional, but the feet must be parallel and in line with the torso. The feet must not move during the lift, but the heels and toes may rise. The lifter must lift the weight by the jaws clenched on the mouthpiece only, by extending upward. The legs must be straight upon completion of the lift, but the body does not need to be erect. Once the weight is clear of the platform and motionless, an official will give a command to end the lift.
The rules are pretty straight-forward, and are similar to many other official USAWA rules for other lifts. The critical things are – hands off legs at completion, legs straight, and weight clear of the platform. The thing that makes Teeth Lifting a challenge is finding a Teeth Bit that one can use. It’s not like this is a piece of lifting equipment that is readily available to buy nowadays!! However, in the “lifting days of the past” it was easy to buy a Teeth Bit. Virtually every issue of old “Muscular Development” had ads in the back with them for sale. I would say the popularity of Teeth Lifting really went downhill by the mid 70’s. Now if you want a Teeth Bit you have to have it custom made for you, or make one yourself. It’s important that it fits “your bite” – not only for teeth protection but to give you the tightest fit for lifting more weight.
I’ve been lucky to see “the best” in the USAWA teeth lifting in action. Years ago I was at the meet in Clark’s Gym when Steve Schmidt did his “record smashing” Teeth Lift of 390 pounds, which is the highest Teeth Lift record in the USAWA record list. I witnessed Steve exceed 300 pounds SEVERAL TIMES in the Teeth Lift. The ole ironmaster Art Montini has the most Teeth Lift records “on the books”, and has been teeth lifting for years. In August Art used the Teeth Lift to win the USAWA Presidential Cup with a fine lift of 107 pounds at over 85 years old!!! Art is one of the few teeth lifters that have WORN OUT teeth bits thru years of use! Just this year Art made himself a new teeth bit.
The legendary strongman Warren Lincoln Travis was quite the Teeth Lifter, and the best of his day. Willoughby in his book “Super Athletes” reported him lifting 311 pounds in the Teeth Lift in Brooklyn, NY in 1918. This was considered the unofficial WORLD RECORD for over 80 years!!!! That is until Steve Schmidt exceeded it several times in the mid-2000’s!!! I consider Steve’s Teeth Lift record of 390 lbs. (which was done with the hands behind back, as was Travis’s) as the unofficial overall World Record in the Teeth Lift now. Maybe this Dino Challenge in January will bring Steve Schmidt out of competition retirement. Especially since it contains ALL of his best lifts!!!!! I would love to see him in action teeth lifting again.