Human coconut peeler in Panama claims he is Guinness-worthy

RIO ALEJANDRO, Panama (AFP) - With jaws of steel that have earned him the nickname "Coconut Peeler," Mr Andres Gardin, at the tender age of 64, is hell-bent on gnawing his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Sure, lots of gents his age might be thinking about retirement or whiling away time at the bar.

But when you have a set of vice-like teeth, you have a duty, don't you? Mr Gardin, who styles himself in an thorough homage to the old American classic TV character Mr T. and drives a cab when not making headlines, is not one to shirk from skills he has honed since he was a coconut-chomping lad of 11.

That makes over five decades of training, and more than 100,000 coconuts shredded.

He says he can shuck 500 coconuts in six hours using only his teeth and hands - good enough for Guinness he maintains. Yet no one has come to verify his feats.

Here, on a worn out basketball court in a small town on Panama's Caribbean coast, he demonstrated how he can often gnaw his way through a single coconut in a rather astonishing eight seconds.

Visitors often stare, their mouths gaping in surprise, filming it on cell phones for posterity.

"Peeling coconuts is not as easy as you all think," he tells a crowd of mesmerised fans.

"To peel coconuts, you've got to have jaw power. You've got to have teeth power. And you've got to have God's power" on your side.

His neighbours are stunned that his achievements have not brought him the record or greater rewards. And Mr Gardin says he has even tried to get the president's office involved, so far without luck.

"I want to get in the Guinness Book, because I know that I have what it takes," Mr Gardin tells AFP, waiting for his date with destiny, and the record books.

Who's going to stop him? Pity the fool.

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