A MOTORCYCLE cavalcade followed a hearse through the streets of Stamford for the funeral of a man known locally as Mighty Molars.
Jon Maddock, a record-breaking strongman and charity fundraiser and a very well known character in the Stamford and Grantham area, died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 59 in Lincoln County Hospital recently.
During the 1980s and 1990s Jon pulled lorries, trains and once even a Harrier Jumpjet with his teeth.
Among his greatest feats, the 6ft 7in 27st gentle giant hauled a 157-ton train for 5.36 metres at Nene Valley Railway, breaking an existing world record by 24 tons.
The son of Joan and Bill Maddock, Jon was born weighing 11lb in the front room of their home in Lincoln Road, Stamford.
He attributed the strength of his teeth to his mother, who bit through his father’s leather belt as she gave birth to him. It once took a dentist 45 minutes to remove one of Jon’s teeth.
A pupil of Stamford’s Bluecoat and Exeter Schools, he went on to Grantham College before working as a labourer and a digger driver locally in the construction trade.
He lived in Emlyns Gardens, Stamford before moving to Grantham five years ago with his partner Anne Cliffe and son Adrian.
Jon was featured in this newspaper many times and was a regular Mercury Memories reader.
He got in touch with us only last November about a piece we wrote on the Fane and Exeter Schools. He brought in his own picture taken at a fun day at the Fane before it closed and was redeveloped as the Queen Eleanor School. His partner Anne is a former deputy head of the Fane School.
Jon was pictured in front of a Volvo truck with his nephew Adam Maddock and friend Alan Baker.
Pulling the lorry with his teeth came about because of a challenge made at that fun day.
“Me and friends had organised a truck-pulling demonstration such as we’d seen in the World’s Strongest Man competitions on television. I said I could do it with my teeth, so they said, go on then!”
But it was at another event that he got his first real breakthrough.
He was at Truckfest in Peterborough in 1986 when another local strongman Geoff Capes roped him in as a bystander to join 12 professionals taking part in the British Truck-Pulling Championships, He came a creditable 7th out of a field of 15.
Going on to perform stunts around the country, Jon worked alongside Geoff Capes and also helped co-ordinate arena strongman events himself.
His own stunts included pulling a double decker bus full of people and lifting boxer Barry McGuigan in a swing.
He did ask to pull Concorde but was turned down for security reasons. He was featured on the TV programme Motormouth several times and travelled around the country as Mighty Molars Maddock, the Dental Giant. He was also very proud of taking part in a Royal Tournament in front of 11,000 people and the Queen.
Although he never damaged his teeth, Jon told the Mercury in 1990 that they did ache after a stunt.
“When I finish an event my teeth and jaw are absolutely numb,” he said and his jaw, neck and chest would ache for up to two weeks afterwards.
He had an interest in most sports and enjoyed off-road driving and riding his trike at motorcycling events. Jon saw himself as one of the last really large strongmen.
“They’re more powerful now and much leaner thanks to all the cardiovascular work they do in the gym,” Jon said in November.
Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 28, he went on to have knee and hip replacements but he attributed years of working in the building trade as having damaged his body and led to illness rather than any of his strongman antics.
“I enjoyed doing it and it made a lot of money for charity,” he said then.
As well as Anne and Adrian, Jon leaves siblings Gill, Barry, Mick, Dean and Chris.
His funeral was held at Christ Church, Stamford, and was followed by burial at Stamford Cemetery. A huge number of family and friends attended and a celebration of his life was held at The Danish Invader.
Anne, his partner of 32 years, said this week that a total of £1,000 has been donated in Jon’s memory and will be used to put a named seat in one of his favourite spots, preferably Burghley Park but, failing that, somewhere else in Stamford.