Former 'World's Tallest Man' Leonid Stadnyk dies aged 44

Leonid Stadnyk shunned the spotlight

Kashmira Gander
Wednesday 27 August 2014 15:36
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik has died aged 44
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik has died aged 44

Leonid Stadnyk, who held the record of world’s tallest man, has died aged 44.

The peasant farmer from the north-western Ukrainian village of Podoliantsy died on Sunday from a cerebral haemorrhage, linked to health problems caused by his height, the Mirror reported.

Before he died, Stadnyk had grown to almost 8 feet, 5 inches (2.6 metres).

His height became abnormal when he was aged 14, and a benign tumour in his brain caused a gland to continually secrete growth hormones - meaning he never stopped growing. At its worst his condition, known as giganticism, caused him to grow at the rate of roughly one foot every three years.

In 2007, he was briefly named the world’s tallest man by the Guiness World Records, but refused to be measured by the organisation. The title was instead given to China's Bao Xishun, who stands at 2.36m tall. In comparison, the height of the average British man is thought to be 5ft 9in.

"We have contacted Stadnyk, but he seems like a very shy guy," a Guinness World Records spokeswoman said at the time. “He doesn't want us around. So we have to stick to what we have.”

31-year-old Turkish farmer Sultan Kosen currently holds the record, measuring 2.51m (8 feet, 3 inches).

Mr Stadnyk did not enjoy his fame, or his height. In a 2004 interview with Reuters he spoke of how his condition forced him to quit his job, and lead him to live a lonely life with is mother.

"For my entire life I wanted to be shorter. I was bowing down, stooping," Stadnyk said. “I have always wanted to be in the shadows. I tried not to stand out, but now..."

“There were no shoes, no clothes for me in the shops. When I was undergoing medical checks, they could not measure my height, the scale ran out. Then I became self-conscious,” Stadnyk, who worse size 27 shoes in UK sizes.

His height meant he could no longer be a veterinarian, as he could only travel by horse or cart, and could not find adequate clothing to protect his body from harsh winter weather. "I did not have proper shoes and my feet froze. I had to stop working."

He also dismissed the local media frenzy around him, and said he has no plans to capitalise on his extreme size and move into show business. He told reporters he wanted to stay near his mother, his best and only friend at the time, and work in their garden.

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