It was in 2005 in Dillingham that Nikiski athletic director Dylan Hooper discovered he had a special talent.
After wrestling practice one day, someone got the idea that a 90-pound wrestler should do a chin-up by pulling on Hooper’s beard.
“After practice, the guys thought it would be hilarious and I said, ‘Why not?’” Hooper said.
One beard pull led to another, and Tuesday at the gym in Nikiski High School, Nikiski junior Justin Cox, weighing in at 145.9 pounds, did a pull-up on Hooper’s beard to beat the Guinness World Record held by Antanas Kontrimas of Istanbul, Turkey. On June 26, 2013, Kontrimas held 140.65 pounds.
Hooper, 38, now will send video off to Guinness to get his record certified. Since Dave Leval of KTVA Channel 11 came down to film the record, Hooper should have some good video to get his record certified. But when Hooper asked Guinness about setting the record, it took three months to get a response, so he’s not expecting something anytime soon.
“Evidently they are backlogged,” Hooper said.
The Nikiski math and outdoor education teacher said he actually used math skills to convince himself the beard tugging is not as bad as one might think. He figures there’s got to be at least 1,000 hairs on his face, so that cuts down the pressure on each hair to a very small amount.
“My tolerance for pain may be more than most people,” Hooper said. “Most people don’t want someone pulling on their hair, but I say, ‘Why not?’”
Even though one stroke of his beard resulted in a handful of hair falling out after the pull-up, Hooper actually is more concerned about his neck than his hair. Neck muscles can be small and fragile, and Hooper actually had to stoop his head forward a bit to allow Cox to do the pull-up.
“The neck feels pretty good,” said Hooper, who had to rush off to a all-conference football meeting at Soldotna High School. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Hooper said he did isometric exercises with his neck to prepare for the record attempt. He also said he still has strong neck muscles from his wrestling days.
Hooper relocated to Nikiski from Dillingham in 2009. About 2011, he let a 105-pounder to a pull-up on his beard at the faculty Christmas show.
Then two years ago, the Nikiski wrestlers were gone during the show, so Hooper recorded a video of junior Gabe Smith and 2016 graduate TJ Cox, each about 120 pounds, doing pull-ups on the beard. The video was shown at the faculty Christmas show.
Last year, Smith found a video of Kontrimas setting his record and showed it to Hooper.
“Gabe said, ‘You’ve got this, coach,’” Hooper said.
When Hooper got the go-ahead from Guinness, he decided to go for the record Tuesday to draw more fans to the Nikiski volleyball senior night match.
“We’ve got a pretty spectacular volleyball team and I wanted to see if we could fill it up for senior night,” Hooper said.
Hooper gave credit to Cox for being able to pull off the pull-up. Pull-ups are hard enough, but a couple tufts of beard hair are tough to hold onto.
“He could have just hung there for a little bit, but he did a pull-up just for good measure,” Hooper said.
Hooper is not looking to get in an arms race with Kontrimas.