Gentle giant's on top of the world

Gentle giant's on top of the world

The tallest man on the planet talks to YP cadet Ruth Boon about fitting in


Sultan Kosen is the world's tallest man according to Guinness World Records. He said he loves Hong Kong's towering buildings.
Sultan Kosen is the world's tallest man according to Guinness World Records. He said he loves Hong Kong's towering buildings.
Photo: Ripley Entertainment
Sultan Kosen always stands out in a crowd. But that's no surprise: he is the tallest man in the world.

The gentle giant is 29 and from Mardin, Turkey. He was in Hong Kong last week to promote Ripleys' New Guinness World Record Attractions in Asia.

He answered questions from a gaggle of reporters and posed patiently for photographers. His friendly smile was never far away.

Only 10 men in modern history have grown taller than 2.44 metres. Kosen is 2.51m, and his massive hands span 28.5cm. His feet take European size 60 shoes. As you may well imagine, everything he wears has to be especially made for him.

The previous record holder was Bao Xishun from Inner Mongolia. He is 2.35m. Kosen officially took the title from him in 2009, when he went to Britain to be measured for the Guinness World Records.

Needless to say, life was not easy for young Kosen, who reached the same height as his father when he was only seven. His abnormal growth was a sign that something was terribly wrong with him.

Doctors discovered he had acromegaly, a tumour in his pituitary gland which caused him to grow abnormally.

He was unable to finish school because he spent so much time at the doctors. His bones, muscles and joints could not keep pace with his extreme height.

All the other members of Kosen's family are of normal height. He says as a child he was very self-conscious about his size.

"I had to become more mature quickly as I was growing up quickly," he recalls, adding he was "quite worried and embarrassed".

But he just kept on growing. "I used to hide from people and I didn't have much self-confidence, but I now realise that I shouldn't have been like that," he says.

He began to find uses for his loftiness. With a patchy education, he spent his time working on his family farm and around the home. "I used to help my mother, cleaning the top shelves and putting up curtain rails. I didn't have to stand on anything if the ceiling needed to be painted," he says.

Even though life has been obviously difficult for Kosen, he seems like a cheerful person.

"You should have confidence and you should be friendly with people, and you should go out there and enjoy yourself," he notes. "For example, if I wasn't this tall, I wouldn't be here in the first place with you now."

With a warm honesty, Kosen points out the troubles he faces on a daily basis over things we take for granted. "I cannot get into a car," he says.

"I will never own one. And in most places the ceilings are too low, so I have to crouch."

He needs crutches and cannot stand comfortably for more than a few minutes: his weight puts too much strain on his bones, especially his knees.

Yet his affliction has given him the chance of a life far removed from his humble origins.

"Being in the Guinness World Records has opened up so many opportunities for me," he says.

"I've been to lovely places, I've met some great people, and I'm really enjoying the attention I'm getting from you lovely people."

Kosen's positive attitude is an inspiration to anyone who thinks they are different or don't fit in. He is living proof that life's challenges can be overcome.

And he has a clear message for Young Post readers.

"Whatever your body is like, whatever you think is normal, everybody is normal," he says.

It's a matter of perspective. And from where Kosen is standing, he can see it all.



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