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istory abounds in superlatives, including the giants that amazed the world with their unusual size. It is only in recent decades that scientific explanations for this phenomenon have emerged, namely pituitary gigantism, Marfan syndrome, Sotos syndrome, acromegaly, or eunuchoidism. However, as humanity had always been intrigued by extremes, we are sometimes offered the blessing of truly unique people, such as Robert Wadlow, still holds the Guinness World Record as the tallest human being to ever exist at a height of 2.72 meters tall (8 feet/ 11 inches).

A tall childhood

Robert Wadlow was born on the 22nd of February, 1918. His parents were not giants, they were people of normal, better said average height for their age. When Robert was only 8 years old, he was already taller than the average person, at a height of 1.80 meters tall (5 feet/ 11 inches). With such a huge body, he was also offered an unimaginable strength for an 8-year-old. He was strong enough to pick up and carry his own father when most fathers would actually carry their children in their arms.

Robert Wadlow at the age of 13 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It was difficult for a child like him to fit in with the others, but even so, he tried to go to school and take part in all the activities. Other children were scared to make fun of him, but they didn’t really embrace him for the same reason, for them it was just like an adult repeating the same class for 20 years and ending up repeating the same class again. The major problem was that due to his abnormal height, certain medical problems came up which gave Robert pain from a young age due to him growing very quickly.

At the age of 13 when he became a boy scout, he had a special tent, uniform, and sleeping bag made for his size in order for him to try and live a normal childhood. Although most activities that were intended for a boy scout were quite easy, apart from selling cookies, as most people would not open the door due to fear. On the contrary, Robert was one of the calmest and most charming boys around, but seeing people fear him for his unusual size made him repressed. At the age of 17, he was declared the tallest teenager ever, at a height of 2.45 meters tall (8 feet ).

Becoming a Celebrity

In 1936, after graduating from high school, Robert wanted to pursue a career as a lawyer in order to stand up for those that have been wronged. In a way, this was influenced due to the life he had to live as a child were everyone would get the wrong idea about his persona due to his unusual size. Therefore, he embarked on college to study law. Later on, in the same year, he got paid a visit by the famous Ringling Brother Circus (the most famous circus at that time in the U.S), he was offered a career into the circus world as they knew that his size would make him famous overnight.

Robert Wadlow with his average-sized family in 1930 Robert Wadlow at the age of 13 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A big advantage in his life was the International Shoe Company which agreed to make Robert’s shoes for free if he would do some promotional tours around the U.S. You may think, why is this such an advantage? Well, with Robert growing at an immense rate, purchasing new shoes was quite frequent and as he grew up bigger, it was more difficult to find shoes that would fit him. At one point, these shoes were made special for him. Robert reached a foot length of 47 centimeters long, which is the equivalent of a US size 37AA (UK size 36 and European size 75), making him hold a second world record for the person with the biggest feet in the world.

A comparison between an averege-sized foot and Robert’s foot Robert Wadlow at the age of 13 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

You might also ask yourself, how much would such a tall person eat? Well, his usual daily intake at the age of 18 was around 8,000 calories a day. Luckily enough he wasn’t much of a picky eater, but as he grew bigger he started to reach a level of consumption of 10,000 calories a day.

A tragic end

Throughout his life, many doctors have examined Robert to discover what exactly made him grow so exponentially. His quick growth was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. What this condition does is affects the growth hormone within our bodies, making the body produce more growth hormones than necessary and also in Robert’s case, never stop producing growth hormones. With today’s medical advancements, Doctors are able to alter this disorder in order to stop the production of growth hormones. Robert’s condition caused him to have difficulty getting around — he had leg braces and a walking stick

Sadly, on the 15th of July 1940, Robert died as a result of a septic blister on his right ankle caused by a brace that wasn’t fitted properly. Robert was buried at the age of 22 in a coffin measuring 3.28 m (10 ft 9 in) long, 81 cm (32 in) wide, and 76 cm (30 in) deep.

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