Essay On My Life As The Tallest Person On Earth

It's not a stretch to say the world's tallest man is happy knowing he won't be growing any more.

The 8-foot, 3-inch Sultan Kosen has let it be known that he has finally stopped growing at the tender age of 29, according to IB Times.

The Guinness World Record Holder has held the title of the tallest living man since 2010, and actually grew a couple inches from the time he first made his mark. Kosen suffers from acromegaly, which caused his body to continually produce the growth hormone, The Hong Kong Standard reported.

The resulting stress on his body forced Kosen to use crutches to walk. However, things have been better since March, when he finally stopped growing thanks to a treatment at the University of Virginia that he started four years ago.

"Since I was tall, I faced obstacles in life. I had rough days. I couldn't get out of my room," he told ITN.co.uk. "My family had financial difficulties so I couldn't receive treatment. I was secretly crying in my room. I needed to burst out. It restricted my life. But ever since I have been certified by the Guinness World Records, my life has begun anew. I am very happy."

Guinness officials said Kosen is one of only 10 people in human history to grow beyond eight feet. He is the first 8-foot man to be measured in more than two decades.

Humankind has always been fascinated by extremes: As a result, the record for the Tallest man (ever) has been featured in almost every edition of the Guinness World Records book since its first edition was published in 1955.

The only admissible evidence upon the true height of giants is that of recent date made under impartial medical supervision.

These were the words of Norris and Ross McWhirter, the founders of Guinness World Records, in 1955 before going on to dismiss the likes of Og, King of Bashan at 9 Assyrian cubits (494.03 cm; 16 ft 2.5 in) due to “confusion of units” from the Bible.

The twins then named Robert Wadlow as the tallest man “of whom there is irrefutable evidence”.

When last measured on 27 June 1940, the mild-mannered American stretched a staggering 2.72 m (8 ft 11.1 in) tall.

Perhaps surprisingly, Robert entered the world no differently to most babies. He was born 100 years ago on 22 February 1918 to two regular-sized parents, weighing an unremarkable 8.7 pounds.

But he rapidly started to shoot up, reaching an incredible 1.63 m (5 ft 4 in) by the age of five, and quickly had to wear clothes intended for teenagers.


Toddler in teenager’s clothing

Aged eight, he overtook his 5 ft 11 in tall father, Harold F Wadlow, and towered over his four younger siblings.

When most children were still being carried by their parents, Robert was able to lift his father up the stairs of their family home.

Robert’s incredible height caused a number of medical issues, which worsened as he grew older – and taller.

Yet as a young boy he tried his hardest to get involved in the same activities his peers were doing. For example, he became a Boy Scout at the age of 13, and had a customised uniform, tent and sleeping bag.

Robert passed the 2.45 m (8 ft 0.5 in) mark by the age of 17, making him – unsurprisingly – the Tallest teenager (ever).

In 1936, the gentle giant graduated from high school and enrolled in college with the intention of studying law.

Celebrity career

However, later that year he would embark on a tour with the hugely popular Ringling Brother Circus, which saw the giant earn worldwide fame.

When asked in a radio interview if he was annoyed when people stared at him, he calmly replied, “No, I just overlook them.”

The quiet, unassuming man took his newfound celebrity status in his stride, and used it to earn money from public appearances.

He also went on a promotional tour with the International Show Company (now INTERCO), which agreed to make him shoes for free.

This was a blessing for Robert, who had whopping 47 cm (18.5 in) long feet – the equivalent of a US size 37AA (UK size 36, roughly a European size 75) – the Largest feet ever. His shoes could cost as much as $100, equal to $1,500 (£1,026) in today’s currency.

The Alton Giant also boasted the Largest hands ever, measuring 32.3 cm (12.7 in) from the wrist to the tip of his middle finger.

But what caused Robert’s extraordinary height?

Pituitary gigantism

Doctor’s examined Robert and realised that his exceptional size was caused due to hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. This condition causes an abnormally high level of the human growth hormone and Robert was never given any treatment to stop it.

Dr Donald Rau, Medical Consultant, Guinness World Records explained: "Robert Wadlow escaped the attention of surgeons, as they were not confident enough to operate on him. Therefore he might remain the tallest man for a very long time."

With a staggering peak daily food consumption of 8,000 calories, he actually continued to grow taller right up until his death.

Since then, medical technology and treatment has advanced significantly and people who suffer from pituitary gigantism are able to have surgery to halt the production of the growth hormone, like Sultan Kösen, the record holder for Tallest man living in 2018.

Robert’s condition caused him to have difficulty getting around – he had leg braces and a walking stick, but never used a wheelchair.

Wadlow’s death

Sadly, it was the Robert's legs that caused his premature death, aged just 22 years old.

He died at 1:30 a.m. on 15 July 1940 in a hotel in Manistee, Michigan, as a result of a septic blister on his right ankle caused by a brace, which had been poorly fitted only a week earlier.

His last words were “The doctor says I won't get home for the....celebrations”, a reference to his paternal grandparents golden wedding.

The Alton Giant was then buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Alton in an enormous coffin measuring 3.28 m (10 ft 9 in) long, 81 cm (32 in) wide and 76 cm (30 in) deep.

Legacy

In 1986 a life-size statue of Wadlow was erected on College Avenue in Alton, opposite the Alton Museum of History and Art, in honour of the city’s most famous resident.

There are also a number of real-size models of him in a variety of museums across the world.

His influence has even stretched into the music world as in 2005 American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens recorded a track titled “The Tallest Man, the Broadest Shoulders”, about Wadlow’s life.


The tallest man has always been a favourite title of Craig Glenday, Editor-in-Chief at Guinness World Records:

This record resonates across the whole world because every country understands how powerful this record is.

The tallest man ever lives on in the history books and the Guinness World Records archives – an enduring record that perhaps will never be beaten.


For our 60th anniversary, we looked back some of the holders of our tallest human titles, from Robert Wadlow to Sultan Kösen (the current Tallest Man (living) title holder standing at 8ft 3in).

In the video below, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday explains how this category is one of our most iconic, featuring archive footage and interviews with medical experts and celebrities.

We also talk to school children who give their take on the challenges faced with being the tallest man in the world.

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