'World's tallest man' dies

TALLEST? The 2.57-metre Leonid Stadnyk.

TALLEST? The 2.57-metre Leonid Stadnyk.

The Ukrainian man widely thought to have been the tallest person in the world has died aged 44.

The 2.57-metre Leonid Stadnyk, who lived in the northwestern Ukrainian village of Podoliantsy, died on Sunday from a brain haemorrhage, Pravda reported.

He never married although villagers said he was kind and sympathetic.

Stadnyk refused to be properly measured by Guinness World Records. That meant the man formally listed as the tallest in the world is Sultan Kosen of Turkey, even though Stadnyk was thought to be 6cm taller.

Stadnyk's abnormal growth started when he was 14. A benign tumour in his brain caused a gland to continually secrete growth hormones.

He considered his extreme height to be a curse.

It forced him to quit his job and lead a lonely life with his mother, Stadnyk told Reuters in 2004.

His height forced him to stop being a veterinarian because he could only travel by horse and cart, and could not find proper clothing. Because he did not have proper shoes his feet were frostbitten while he worked one winter. After that he had to work in his family's smallholding.

The tallest officially recorded person in history was Robert Wadlow of the United States, who was 2.72m tall at the time of his death at the age of 22 in 1940.

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