A man believed to be the tallest on the planet at 8ft 4 inches has died aged 44.
Leonid Stadnyk, who was said to be too shy to measured for the Guinness World record books, was 21 inches taller than lanky England footballer Peter Crouch.
The peasant farmer, from the Ukrainian village of Podoliantsy, died yesterday from a brain haemorrhage after health problems.
Of his size, Leonid had said: “To me, my height is a curse, a punishment from God, not something to celebrate. What sin I have committed, I do not know. All my life I have dreamed of being just like everyone else. “
He added: “I don’t want or need the fame that this would bring so I have no desire to be in this Guinness book.”
He was scared to commit to women “because I don’t want to inflict my problems on a wife. I think it would not be fair on her”, he said.
His astonishing rise to fame began at 12, when a benign brain tumour over-stimulated his body’s production of a growth hormone.
At one point, his condition, called giganticism, left him growing at the rate of roughly a foot every three years.
He wore size 27 shoes (in UK sizes) for feet that measured almost 18 inches in length while his palms were more than a foot in diameter.
But unable to independently verify his measurements, Guinness instead officially listed Xi Shin at fractionally under 7ft 9 inches as the world’s tallest man.
“We have contacted Stadnyk, but he seems like a very shy guy,” said a Guinness World Records spokeswoman. “He doesn’t want us around. So we have to stick to what we have.”
Talking about life, he explained how his height prevented him following his desired career.
“I was trained as a vet and loved my work,” he said.
“But gradually I found that I couldn’t get the shoes I needed in winter to protect me from the frostbite. I just couldn’t keep on with this work.”
He took over the family smallholding.
“Stooping from my height to pull up the weeds is not easy, I can tell you. It puts a lot of strain on my back,” he said.
“I know I’m the tallest man but at the same I often feel one of the most helpless. This life is for smaller people.”
Once he went to Germany on a rare trip outside Ukraine.
“It was like another planet – I am glad I saw it but felt a bit like an alien there.”
There was no bed big enough: he had to sleep on a billiard table.
His neighbours knew him as a kind a generous man, always ready to help.
One, Bronyslave, said he was “the most unselfish, diligent man of a pure soul.”