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The tallest man in the world lives in Ukraine

33-year old Leonid Stadnik is 2 meters 55 centimeters tall, and he continues growing.
Mr. Stadnik surpassed the result registered in Guinness World Records (2 meters 44 centimeters) 3 years ago, and he continues to grow. He is going to be awarded the title “Pride of Ukraine” soon. However, his extraordinary height gives the man more problems than fame. Leonid Stadnik is concerned that if he continues growing, he will have to enter his house on all his fours soon.

The tallest man in the world has to squat and bend while walking not to hit the ceiling with his head. He just hates his height as his cottage rooms were constructed under Soviet  standards: in the older part of the cottage the rooms are 2 meter 20 centimeters high, in another part they are 2 meters 60 centimeters high.

Leonid has the biggest palm in the world as well – his palm is 31 centimeters long. Probably for this reason he does not drink alcohol: any glass looks tiny to him.

Unlike other tallest men, he is not well-known because he was born in small village Podolyantsy in Ukraine, near Chernobyl. Because of lack of roads, no vehicle can reach his village, and local residents use horse carts for trips. Radiation might cause wonders in the area: the fattest man in the world (Vasily Yanov, 450 kilograms) lived there as well.

Leonid Stadnik does not consider himself successful. He graduated both from high school and from university with distinction, but cannot work as a vet: cows get scared of the giant man.

Mr. Stadnik blames doctors of his trouble: they removed some tumor from his brain when he was 13, but this affected his hypophysis and he started growing fast. When Leonid was in 9th grade, he became the biggest man among the villagers.

Doctors did not allow Leonid to join the Army because he had flat feet. The man took offence of the doctors, "I don’t go to doctors anymore. They even did not look at me at the military registration and enlistment office. They were only reading their papers. People should not be treated this way”.


Leonid tries to avoid seeing himself, he has no mirror in his house. He reconciled with adverse circumstances and enjoys with the little things he has, like a genuine Christian. "I don’t drink spirits and don’t smoke, I haven’t tried beer in my life”, says Leonid. “I am OK without over-indulgence".

He has dreamed of seeing the world, but was only in Ukrainian capital Kiev ("they brought me to the Zoo, and I felt myself an exhibit"), and in regional center Zhitomir. The man has big trouble while traveling: no transport fits him. “I can’t enter the motor vehicle. In a bus I have to squat, this embarrasses people. I can’t even enter the tractor, although I know studied tractor-driving before. I can move around only in a horse cart”.

However, this 200-kilogram man is too heavy for a horse.

Another problem of the giant man is finding clothes and footwear.

"For 10 years I was chief vet at the farm 7 kilometers away from my village. I went there by horse cart, in winter I got frozen”. Leonid says that the farm has “an aggressive environment”: the mud ate away his only boots. He received new boots only in 1.5 years – a footwear factory in Zhitomir produced a pair of boots of size 60 for him.

To find socks which could be big enough is another critical problem for Leonid.

The man has no TV set (“I don’t need it, I am too busy working on my farm”) and telephone (“I was given a mobile, but it was hard to press its buttons with my fingers”).

One day he was lucky to find a big sweater, “I bought the sweater at the second-hand shop, it fits me all right. There are big people somewhere if one can see clothes for them”.

Leonid usually wears quilted jacket, clothes for work on a farm and a cap. He has a business suit, but the suit is too small for him now: trousers are 30 centimeters shorter than his leg length. Leonid is not embarrassed that his clothing is not new: he wants to look just like any villager. Recently he was offered to put on white clothes and campaign for some candidate for Ukrainian presidency.

"There are three ways to use my height: repairing roofs (Leonid is able to repair the cottage roofs while standing on the ground), put electric bulbs on the posts and promote some candidates. Nothing of this satisfies me. I’d better earn my living on a farm. Politics is not my area”, Leonid says proudly.

Leonid seems to be disappointed about women. He says he “met different ones” at school and university, but “did not find a good one

Nobody laughs at Leonid at his village. The village is small, there are no children there. No mayor, no church.

Leonid eats mainly potatoes and suet. He has no money to buy delicatessen, and also he is afraid to get fat, “My joints don’t keep up with my height, I will have to stay in bed if I get fat”. радостно пожимает мне руку, и я понимаю, что попала в тиски.

The giant man refuses to go to the doctor. Ukraine pays him an allowance - $30 per month. Recently the allowance was increased by $1. 

Yanina Sokolovskaya