Those who strive for greatness can make their mark upon the world through intellectual breakthroughs, inspirational leadership, athletic prowess, remarkable good looks, or, in the case of Dinesh Upadhyaya, a really big mouth.
Upadhyaya, of Mumbai, India, possesses the unique skill of being able to shove an astonishing number of objects between his lips: 800 drinking straws; 79 seedless grapes; 92 pencils; 65 mini onions; 5 golf balls; and a 3 ½-inch ceramic cup, to name a few. He holds each set of items in his mouth for 30 seconds. These feats have earned him the name “Maximouth” and made him one of his country’s greatest world record holders.
But how does one discover such a talent? And what drives his desire to shove more household items into his mouth than anyone else on the planet?
Upadhyaya, a college chemistry and math teacher, had already been dabbling in world records since 2001, inspired by men like America’s Ashrita Furman and New Zealand’s Alistair Galpin, who hold the most and second-most world records, respectively, along with the UK’s Record Holders Republic founder, Dean Gould.
His first major success came in breaking a Furman finger-snapping record (170 snaps in one minute). A month of training enabled Upadhyaya to squeeze by Furman with 172 snaps. “This record gave me a lot of confidence,” he says.
Armed with this newfound confidence, he stumbled upon a record for the most pencils fit in a mouth (70), set by an American named Todd DeFazio on recordsetter.com. Upadhyaya set out to shatter it.
Although this record-setting phenom is a large man overall—he stands 6’-6”—he doesn’t just have a freakishly large mouth. These stunts, like any, have required intense training.
“It took almost four months for me to mentally prepare for this record,” he explains. “I purchased 100 pencils of the same size no 2. When I started practice for this record I was hardly able to fit 50 pencils at once. I went through a most painful experience. But I was confident enough to break this record at any time. Soon I increased my mouth stretching capacity and was able to fit more than 70 pencils. On Jan. 22, 2011, finally I fit a total of 92 pencils in my mouth at once very easily for more than half a minute.”
A video of the feat went viral on YouTube and the record has since appeared in five different record books. More importantly, Upadhyaya found his niche and upped his game.
To enhance his abilities, he practices yoga and breathing exercises regularly. While practicing the stunts, he massages his facial muscles and uses his fingers to stretch the opening of his mouth as much as possible.
“I repeat this up to 10 minutes so my cheek become rubber-like fleshy,” Upadhyaya says. “After practice or during record attempts I usually experience swellings in my mouth, especially in the lips and gums area, which later become normal after an hour. I always take precautionary measures to avoid choking.”
Good health also helps. Upadhyaya doesn’t drink, smoke, or eat meat.
This spring, he plans to set several more records by stuffing his mouth full of things like lit candles, playing cards, hot dogs, and snooker balls. “My dream is to break all possible mouth stuffing records as soon as possible,” he says.
He’s also looking to take advantage of opportunities within the eating and drinking categories, particularly in the vegetarian field. “My appetite is abnormal,” he says. If all goes well, he’ll soon be gulping down 500ml of tomato ketchup and eating 20 lit birthday candles faster than any human.
Upadhyaya’s hunger for records has led him to numerous achievements aside from the orifice-oriented and finger-snapping feats. For example, he formed 2,139 names of geographical places derived from the letters in the word “livestrong” and wrote the longest palindrome sentence in Devnagari (Hindi) script (27 words and 66 letters).
To date, he’s established or broken more than 100 Indian and world records, which have been featured by a variety of record setting organizations, ranging from Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! to Record Holders Republic and the India Book of Records.
While his accomplishments span across many fields, he knows his greatness lies within his big mouth. The wider he opens it, the greater his legend will grow.
Photos courtesy of Dinesh Upadhyaya.
© 2013 Marc Hartzman