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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 17:18 GMT 18:18 UK
Bangalore's Mr Mega-bite

By Habib Beary
BBC correspondent in Bangalore

Some call him the Tooth Warrior; to others, he is the Man with the Diamond Teeth.

Mr Verma with coconut
Cricket legend Tendulkar watches Gautam destroy a coconut
A 26-year-old villager has captured the imagination of his fellow Indians with his unique ability to dehusk a coconut in seconds, using just his teeth.

Gautam Verma may be short of stature, but his teeth would make even a wolf blush.

He has earned himself a world record for tearing the husk off coconuts with the ferocity of a carnivore - it takes him 38 minutes to dehusk 51 of them.

He comes from a village near Channapatna, an hour away from the southern Indian city of Bangalore, famed for its software industry.

He is determined to bite his way onto the global stage.

But his teeth are not his only strength.

Mr Verma with 300 straws
The final straw: Gautam performs his party-trick with 300 straws
His ears are also prodigiously powerful, capable of towing a small car for 87 metres, by means of a string tucked into one of his earlobes.

Other feats he has perfected include lifting a bicycle with his teeth, climbing palm trees up to 40 feet high, and most recently, holding 300 straws at a time in his mouth.

World tour

"My dream is to show my skills all over the world," said Gautam, after demonstrating his feats before India's most popular cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar.

Although born into a farmer's family, Gautam was never keen on tilling the land or grazing cattle. From an early age, he wanted to be famous.

Gautam said he excelled as a wrestler and judo artist in school and college, but eventually discovered he had more grit in his teeth than in his muscles.

It was not long before his mother began turning to him every time she wanted coconut paste for her curries.

Cricket icon

Sachin, too, seemed impressed.

The batting maestro was curious to know what paste Gautam used to maintain his teeth.

Mr Verma ripping into coconut
Gautam's curry-cooking mother has used his coconut-shredding skills
Gautam attributes the extraordinary strength in his dentures to the traditional neem stick, a medicinal twig used by villagers to clean teeth.

"I was so happy to perform before Sachin. He is a great but nice man."

India's cricket captain, Saurav Ganguly, also watched Gautam's show.

"Our hero has been blessed with powerful teeth," said a fan of Gautam, who travels the towns and cities in Karnataka state, staging shows.

"I don't have the money to go around India and the world. That is why I have appealed for funds to the government and private companies," said Gautam.




SEE ALSO:
Indian wrestler limbers up for stardom
11 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Neem tree patent revoked
11 May 00  |  Science/Nature



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