True tall story

Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014

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Sultan Kosen has a peculiar gig - he travels the world, being enormous. Currently in Sydney for the Anatolian Turkish Festival, being held at Darling Harbour over this weekend, Sultan, 31, is the tallest man in the world.

Certified as such by Guinness World Records, at 251.5 centimetres, or 8 foot 3 inches, Kosen is the living embodiment of altitude. By way of comparison, the tallest basketball player on earth, Hasheem Thabeet, of Oklahoma City Thunder, is only 221 centimetres, or 7 foot 3.

While some may feel that there is something unseemly, almost circus freak show, about being paraded about the place simply because of one's extreme dimensions, it should be noted that when Sultan Kosen was declared to be world's tallest living man back in 2009, it certainly saved his life, and probably helped him find true love.

Sultan, one of five children (all of normal height), suffered from a pituitary gland disorder which meant that his body generated excessive growth hormone, and what's more kept doing so well past puberty. After 2009, he grew another five centimetres, before he was offered medical help.

A series of operations at the University of Virginia in the US stopped the growth, but he still needs crutches to get around. More importantly to him is that his fame led him to meeting Merve Dibo, 21, from Hasaki, Syria.

She travelled to Kosen's village Dede köy in Turkey to meet him, and they began dating.

"I found the love of my life," Dibo told told the 1500-strong throng - among them Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan - at their wedding in the town of Mardin last year.

"I hope this happiness will last forever and ever. At first everyone around me told me not to marry him because of his height," said Dibo, who is 5 foot 9 inches, or 175 centimetres tall, "but I fell in love with his heart, not his height. His height doesn't bother me at all."

Finding a partner when you're as tall as a street light isn't simple.

"It's really difficult to find a girlfriend. They are usually scared of me," Kosen told Guinness four years ago. "Hopefully now that I'm famous I'll be able to meet lots of girls. My dream is to be married."

And his dream came true. "When I looked into her eyes, I knew it was love. I cannot describe my feelings in words," Kosen said at the ceremony. "I am the happiest man in the world."

Kosen and his bride hope to have two children, "God willing".

While one of just 10 people in human history to have lived to be more than eight feet tall, now that his hormones have been switched off Sultan Kosen will never take American Robert Wadlow's all-time record of early last century, not that he's at all upset about that.

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Quite the reverse - there was no cure for pituitary growth disorders in 1940, and when Wadlow was measured after his death that year at 272 centimetres, or 8 foot 11 inches, he was just 22 years old.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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