Sword Swallowers Set Multiple World Records


Nine SSAI Sword Swallowers broke the 2002 SSAI and Guinness World Record by swallowing 52 swords at one time at midnight September 3, 2005 at the 4th Annual Sideshow Gathering and SSAI 'Big Swallow' in Wilkes-Barre, PA. From left: Travis Fessler, Keith Nelson, John Metz, Dan Meyer, Natasha Veruschka, Red Stuart, Roderick Russell, Matt the Knife Cassiere, and Charles Crispy Knight set the new world's record by swallowing 52 swords at the 4th annual SSAI Big Swallow

WILKES-BARRE, PA, September 5, 2005 – At midnight in a small sleepy town in upstate Pennsylvania, nine sword swallower members of the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) broke the 2002 SSAI and Guinness World Records by swallowing a total of 52 swords at one time on September 3, 2005 at the 4th Annual Sideshow Gathering and SSAI "Big Swallow" in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

The previous world's record for mass sword swallowing had initially been set during SSAI's first “Big Swallow” at the first Sideshow Gathering and Sword Swallowers Convention on August 30, 2002 when 19 sword swallowers simultaneously gulped down 50 swords before an audience of sideshow industry experts, historians, performers, fans and media. The feat was certified by Guinness World Records in London as an official Guinness World Record in early 2005. This year's record increased the number to 52 swords swallowed, a feat made even more amazing by the fact there were fewer sword swallowers participating than in previous years.

Some of the participants who broke the world’s record this weekend were veteran sword swallowers, while others have been swallowing swords for only a few months.  “I’m proud to have been part of this historical record-breaking event.  Just being on stage with legends like Natasha Veruschka, Red Stuart and Keith Nelson was very humbling. To actually be part of helping break a world record was the event of a lifetime,” beamed Travis Fessler who set his personal best by swallowing two swords. “The old record that I wasn't part of stood at 50 swords, the new record I am part of is 52; Even though I only swallowed two swords, I feel like my participation really helped put us over the top!”Sword Swallower Dan Meyer swallows seven swords at once while helping set the new world record for sword swallowing at the 4th annual 'Sideshow Gathering' in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania September 3, 2005.

The sword swallowers who broke the world's records this year were Red Stuart of Philadelphia, PA swallowing 25 swords, Natasha Veruschka of New York city (11 swords), Dan Meyer of Nashville, TN (7 swords), Keith Nelson of New York (3 swords), Travis Fessler of Florence, KY (2 swords), Roderick Russell from Vermont (1 sword), Matt “the Knife” Cassiere of Rhode Island (1 sword), John Metz from Iowa (1 sword), and Charles "Crispy" Knight who swallowed one sword after making the long drive from Denver, Colorado just for the event. The number of swords and swallowers was audited by a local accounting firm, witnessed and verified by veteran sideshow owners and former sword swallowers Chris Christ and Slim Price, and confirmed by sideshow historian James Taylor.

During the event, Dan Meyer of Nashville, TN set his own personal record by swallowing 7 swords at once, with blades measuring at least 16 to 24 inches in length and 3/4 to 1 inch in width.  New York Belly dancer Natasha Veruschka swallowed a whopping 11 swords, and was ready to add two more to match her own 2004 Guinness World Record of swallowing 13 at once. But sideshow veteran Red Stuart of Philadelphia, PA topped everyone by setting his own personal record and swallowing 25 swords at once -- a 32 inch broadsword along with 24 other swords measuring at least 18 inches long by one half inch in width.  SSAI regulations require the blades to be at least 15 inches in length and one half inch in width.

Stuart’s accomplishment will also be submitted to Guinness as an individual world record.  “The closest any one person has come to swallowing that many swords was when Edith Clifford was reported to have swallowed 20 swords in 1900...” explains SSAI Director and historian Dan Meyer. “What an honor it was to be standing next to Red and watch him make history by breaking a 105-year-old record!”

On Sunday afternoon, September 5, 2005, Travis Fessler set another personal record by cracking a bull whip 17 consecutive times while swallowing a sword to set a new SSAI record for "Whip Cracking While Sword Swallowing".  Besides being recognized as an SSAI World Record, this record will also be submitted to Guinness World Records in London for consideration as a new Guinness World Record, as well as be sent to the Alternative World Records in Leipzig, Germany to be added to their record books.

At Sunday morning's awards brunch, veteran sword swallowers Count Desmond, Red Stuart, and Natasha Veruschka were honored with SSAI Lifetime Achievement Awards. An SSAI Certificate of Appreciation award was given to Franco Kossa in appreciation of his dedication to supporting and promoting the art of sword swallowing and other sideshow arts by sponsoring the Sideshow Gathering over the past four years.

The art of sword swallowing began over 4000 years ago in India and the Middle East, and requires the practitioner to use mind-over-matter techniques to control the body and repress natural reflexes in order to insert up solid steel blades from 15 to 25 inches down the esophagus and into the stomach.  With the demise of the traveling circus sideshow over the past thirty years, there are currently less than forty full-time professional sword swallowers actively performing the ancient but deadly art of sword swallowing around the world today.

The Sword Swallowers Association International is based in Nashville, TN and is comprised of sword swallower members from around the world.

For more information:

www.swordswallow.org   (SSAI)

www.swordswallow.com    (General Info)

www.swordswallow.com/records.php    (Records)


Media contact:

Dan Meyer

Executive Director

Sword Swallowers Association Int'l




1-(615) 969-2568

Frank Kossa

The Sideshow Gathering

Inkin’ the Valley Tattoo Convention





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