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Home > People

WAWIBF... Leonid Stadnyk

7 May 2004

When Ukrainian Leonid Stadnyk was only twelve years old, he had an operation to remove a tumour from his pituitary gland. Unfortunately, surgeons missed a bit, and Stadnyk was left with a rare condition called acromegalic gigantism.

Now Stadnyk is 33, and, at eight foot four inches, he is the tallest man in the world. Plus, as if that weren't achievement enough, if he manages to keep from dying, killing himself or being cured, within a couple of years he will poop all over Robert Pershing Wadlow and become the tallest person in history.

What a shame then, that he is not one of those people who crave the limelight. If Stadnyk had been born with the same desire to be recognised in a crowd as the desperate fools currently having themselves carved to pieces for MTV's 'I Wanna Famous Face', he could now be the happiest giant in the West. He would be known as the Big Man of Beverley Hills, daily pictured at different Hollywood parties, dwarfing the likes of David Schwimmer and Rene Zellweger.

Film cameos would lead to starring tall man roles, which would lead in turn to a wonderful career in right-wing politics. His house would be a multi-billion dollar Brobdingnagian mansion and his best friends would be Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman.

But Stadnyk doesn't want any of that. He is happy instead to live in the Ukraine, in abject poverty on a tiny scrap of land with his ageing mother. Some of his fellow villagers are understandably sickened by his refusal to capitalise on his freakish dimensions. A local farmer told the press, "He should do sports... start running... go to Hollywood and make money there."

But, even though he desperately needs money for another operation to remove the rest of the tumour and stop him going blind and dying young and in agony, Stadnyk is simply not interested in material gain. Neither is the approval or attention of others something he craves. Guinness are sniffing around him, keen to have him measured and logged in their annual book of wholly pointless facts, but Stadnyk just wants to be left alone.

At least, thats what he tells one reporter. Then he tells another that "the worst thing [about being tall] is being isolated from social life. I get invited to parties but I don't want to go because it makes me uncomfortable. I don't like people staring and pointing fingers. I am a black sheep." Hmmm. It's beginning to sound like acromegalic gigantism is the least of this man's problems. He has never had a girlfriend. He relies completely on his mother. "If anything happens to my mother," he says, "I don't even know how to buy food." Eh? He's 33 years old and he doesnt know how to buy food?

Now hold on. This has got nothing to do with being tall. This man is just downright lazy. The more we hear about Stadnyk, the less we like him. In the end, it seems Wilde was right after all: excessive height is wasted on the freakishly tall.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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