New rules make China's Bao world's tallest again

NEW YORK Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:19am BST

China's Bao Xishun (R) poses during a presentation for the Guinness World Records in Beijing in this January 28, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Jason Lee

China's Bao Xishun (R) poses during a presentation for the Guinness World Records in Beijing in this January 28, 2005 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Guinness World Records has returned the title of world's tallest man to China's Bao Xishun after Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk refused to be measured under new guidelines.

Bao, who stands at 7 feet, 8.95 inches (2.36 metres), held the title for a year before losing it in 2006 to Stadnyk, who is 8 feet 5.5 inches (2.57 metres) tall, Craig Glenday, editor-in-chief of Guinness World Records, told Reuters.

While Bao has been measured by Guinness, which required him to be measured six times in one day -- both standing and lying down -- Stadnyk has refused. His title was awarded based on a statement from his doctor.

"We realized there was such interest and excitement in these categories to do with height that it was too important a category for us to leave it to a doctor alone," Glenday said. "So we decided to tighten things up completely to make sure there was no doubt."

Glenday said Guinness had been asking Stadnyk since about 2004 -- when the organization first heard of him -- if they could measure him, offering to fly officials to the Ukraine or fly him to Britain.

"He has gone on record saying he doesn't want to be bothered. Basically he doesn't want the fame and publicity that comes with being the world's tallest man," he said. "Whether or not that's the real reason ... I'm not sure, but that's what he's told us."

Stadnyk, who lives with his mother in a tiny village in central Ukraine, told Reuters last year he doesn't "need glory. I just want a normal life under normal conditions."

MORE BURDEN THAN BLESSING

Stadnyk said he sees his height more as a burden than a blessing, saying "the world is built for medium-sized people." He and his mother were living off a pension of about $100 (54 pounds) a month and whatever else they earn from growing tomatoes and cucumbers and raising chickens, cows and pigs.

Bao, however, loves the publicity that came with his title and "was a bit gutted" when he found out he had lost it to Stadnyk, Glenday said. The Inner Mongolian livestock herder has not yet learned he is again officially the world's tallest.

Bao is recrowned in the Guinness World Records 2009 edition, which will be released on September 17.

"He was a bit of a recluse. He looked after goats. Then the fame that he got from being a Guinness World Record holder meant that he found himself a wife, his life improved," said Glenday, adding that Bao and his 5 foot 6 inch (1.68 metre) wife are expecting a baby later this year.

Bao hires himself out for publicity stunts and his wedding last year was sponsored by at least 15 companies. In December 2006, Bao saved the lives of two dolphins by reaching deep into their stomachs with his 3.47-foot (1.06-metre) long arm to pull out pieces of plastic, according to Chinese media.

Bao reached his height in a seven-year spurt that began in his teens which doctors have yet to explain, according to Guinness, while Glenday said Stadnyk's growth is said to have been caused by a tumour on his pituitary gland that stimulated over-production of a growth hormone.

The tallest man on record was Robert Wadlow from Alton, Illinois, who measured 8 feet 11 inches (2.72 metres) and died in 1940, according to Guinness World Records.

Guinness has also crowned a new shortest man under the new rules -- He Ping Ping, who stands 2 feet 5.37 inches (74.61 centimetres) tall and lives just a few hundred miles from Bao in Inner Mongolia, Glenday said.

(Editing by Todd Eastham)

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