The human body is truly a wonder to behold. While you might think that basketball players are the tallest people in the world, think again. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the tallest people in history. Funny enough, none of them are basketball players. Some of them have used their height to their advantage. Others have suffered from health issues and passed away at a young age. Here’s a look at 10 of the tallest people ever recorded in history…
1. Robert Wadlow
The first person on our list and the holder of the title ‘Tallest person in history’ belongs to one Robert Pershing Wadlow, often referred to as the Giant of Illinois. An American, he ultimately reached the astounding height of 8’11.1”, measured just 18 days prior to his death at the tender age of just 22.
Mr. Wadlow suffered from a hyperactivity of his pituitary gland, which led to his system being exposed to abnormal amounts of human growth hormone. Intriguingly, Robert continued to grow right up until the point of his early death.
Other intriguing trivia about Mr. Wadlow include the fact that he was a Freemason (he required the largest ring their organization had ever commissioned), and the fact that his 10ft. long coffin required a full dozen pallbearers to carry and inter in his vault.
2. John Rogan
Number two on the list of tallest people in recorded history is John William Rogan, often affectionately known by his nickname “Bud”. Another American, John Rogan had been regarded as the tallest person in history for almost one hundred years, with Robert Wadlow only passing him during the final year of his own life.
Mr. Rogan developed ankylosis by the age of 13, and soon after completely lost the ability to walk. Despite his prodigious size, John weighed only 175lbs. as a result of his disability and disease. He too continued to grow up until the point of his death, at which point he measured an incredible 8’9”.
Mr. Rogan remains the tallest person in recorded medical history of African ethnicity.
3. John Carroll
Mr. John F. Carroll, another American (don’t worry, another country finally manages to sneak someone in next), is the third tallest person in recorded history. His true statue was never actually recorded, but not only did he suffer from gigantism (as do most of the people on this list), but he also had a severe 2 dimensional curve to his spine which made measurement difficult at best.
Estimates made during his last formal measurement indicate a height of 8’7.75” assuming his spine was straight, but at death he may have been much closer to nine feet tall. Due to the man’s unfortunate condition, his standing height was never measured higher than 8’ even.
At one point during his teenage years, Mr. Carroll grew seven inches in height in the matter of a few short months.
4. Leonid Stadnyk
When we come to Mr. Leonid Stepanovich Stadnyk, we encounter two new elements to our list for the first time. The first is a break of the American streak; Mr. Stadnyk is a citizen of the Ukraine. Second is our first whiff of controversy; Mr. Stadnyk refuses to submit to the Guinness World Records measuring protocol.
If his recorded height of 2.57m (8’5.2”) is his true height, Mr. Stadnyk would be the tallest man alive, if only fourth on the all-time list. However, since he has refused to be measured, doubt has been thrown on this number, and the official title of ‘World’s Tallest Living Person’ has instead devolved to Sultan Kosen, number 7 on our list.
5. Väinö Myllyrinne
Another new country joins the list in the person of Mr. Myllyrinne, a Finn. At one point during his life (from 1961-63, specifically) he was the tallest person alive. Unlike the first four gentlemen on our list, Mr. Myllyrinne did not grow continuously throughout his life. At the age of 21 he measured only a scant 7’3”, and had he not experienced another spurt of growth in his late 30s he never would have attained his recorded height of 8’3”.
One record Mr. Myllyrinne has managed to hold on to has been that of hand span; his incredible 15.7” spread (400mm for you metric system users) has yet to be surpassed. He also remains the tallest soldier ever, given his service in the Finnish Defense Force.
6. Edouard Beaupré
North America retakes the spotlight for the sixth entrant on our list, though he is a Canadian rather than from the USA. Mr. Edouard Beaupré measured up at 8’3” (2.51m) tall when he passed away. The so-called “Willow Bunch Giant” was still growing at the time of his death, and again suffered from a hyperactive pituitary gland – a common feature among people on the list as you have seen.
Mr. Beaupré is still credited as the World’s Tallest Wrestler and Strongman, primarily due to his activities with the well-known Barnum and Bailey circus around the turn of the 20th century.
One of the only men on the list not to have his family bury his body in concrete for protection after his passing, Mr. Beaupré’s body ended up being put on display and then later held by the University of Montreal until 1989, nearly 90 years after the unfortunate man’s death.
7. Sultan Kösen
Out of nowhere Turkey leaps onto the list in the person of Sultan Kösen, the World’s (officially) Tallest Living Person. Guinness records place him at 2.51m (8’3”), behind Mr. Stadnyk from the Ukraine, but Mr. Stadnyk refuses to submit to official measurement. Sultan also holds the record for largest hands and feet of anyone currently alive.
Most interestingly of all, Sultan has received successful treatment for the hyperactivity of his pituitary gland. As of 2012, it was confirmed that his growth has been halted; hopefully Mr. Kösen will be able to enjoy a somewhat longer life than many others on this list as a result.
Possessed of a sharp sense of humor, Sultan has often wryly noted that the most difficult part of his condition is being able to find clothes that fit.
8. Vikas Uppal
Mr. Vikas Kumar Uppal – “Vicky” to his friends, was a resident of India until his death in 2007. Unfortunately, his height was never officially measured by Guinness officials, so there is again a bit of controversy surrounding his place on the list. Some sources report him as tall as 2.7m (8’10”), while others place him at 2.51m (8’3”) and yet others at 8’ flat.
As no official measurements were ever taken, we unfortunately will never know where Mr. Uppal truly belongs on the list of the World’s Tallest People; this article assumes a height of 8’3”, the most commonly cited number.
9. Don Koehler
Donald A. Koehler recaptures our progression for the Americans. From around the time of his official measurement in the year 1969 all the way through the 70’s until his death early in 1981, he was regarded as the World’s Tallest Person – standing 8’2” tall.
Interesting, Mr. Koehler had a twin sibling – a girl. She never developed the acromegalic gigantism her brother did, and stood a more normal 5’9” tall, leading to a World-Record height differential between the twins of over 29”.
10. Bernard Coyne
The only member to make our list suffering from eunuchoidal gigantism (AKA Daddy Long Legs Syndrome), Mr. Bernard A. Coyne’s WWI draft registration card lists a height of 8’, though there is indication he may have stood as tall as 8’4” by the time of his death, as he continued to grow up until that point.
In 1918, he was refused entry into the United States Army, when he stood just 7’9”. In need of custom shoes, he supposedly had to have his special size 25s created for him by cobblers.
11. Honorable Mention – Patrick Cotter O’Brien
While this article is entitled The 10 Tallest People in History, we couldn’t resist adding Mr. Patrick Cotter O’Brien to the list, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, he is the first person in recorded history to have surpassed 8’ in height. Born all the way back in 1760, his height was verified in 1972 upon exhumation of his remains, which confirmed him to be 8’1”. This happened despite having his casket encased in led and then buried in 12 feet of solid rock.
So for his trailblazing stature as the first person ever to surpass 8’ as well as his rough luck post-burial, we figured he deserved an honorary mention.