World's Tallest Man Lives Isolated Life In Ukraine - Interview

KIEV, Ukraine -- Leonid Stadnik, the world's tallest man, lives an isolated life, has trouble finding clothes and shoes that fit and no longer expects any help from bureaucrats, the 37-year-old Ukrainian said in an interview.

Viktor Yushchenko with Ukraine's 'Gentle Giant' Leonid Stadnik

Measuring 2 meters 53 centimeters (8 feet 3 inches), Stadnik will be included in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008, displacing Chinese Bao Xishun, who stands at 2 meters 36 centimeters (7 feet 7 inches).

"I'm not looking for fame or to set any records," he said in an interview with RIA Novosti. "For me, it was a lot more pleasant when for my birthday the local utility company built me a bathroom with a shower that took my height into account."

The village of Podolyantsi where Stadnik lives, in the Zhitomyr Region in western Ukraine, has a single street, no school, no shops and no church. And although it is only three kilometers (two miles) from the local center of Chudnov, he almost never goes there.

"My life goes by quietly here," he said. "I love nature, I love going places, but because of my height I try to go where there are fewer people. I don't like attracting attention."

He said that doctors discovered a brain tumor when he was 12, and that soon after being operated on, he began growing so quickly his parents had trouble buying him enough clothes and shoes.

Despite graduating from the local agriculture institute with honors, Stadnik said he was unable to work as a veterinarian for long because the lack of shoes and gloves that fit meant he suffered frequent frostbite while on the job.

The world learned of the giant's existence thanks to journalists, and the first to try and help him were not local officials, but German businessmen who presented him with size 62 shoes. Stadnik said he thinks of that day as his second birthday.

He later received a visit from Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who promised him a presidential stipend. However, when he wrote local officials with a request, it was returned to him with the explanation that he did not qualify.

"How many things I was promised," he said. "They promised me a tractor, a car, but I would be happy with any kind of transportation now."

As for his private life, Stadnik remains circumspect.

"I don't have any plans to marry yet," he said.

"Maybe in time. Life has been so complicated I wouldn't want to burden anyone with those problems. I've fallen in love before, but I always tried to keep myself in line."

Source: RIA Novosti

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