World's tallest man 'still number one' after doubts emerge over rival's height

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Sultan Kösen has been recognised as the world
Sultan Kösen has been recognised as the world's tallest man for 14 years (Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The world's tallest man says he is “still number one” after downplaying the claim of a challenger who has to wear special shoes made out of tyres.

Sultan Kösen has been recognised as the tallest man in the world since he was measured at 8ft 1in in 2009 – although remarkably he has grown another two inches since then.

However, his 8ft 3in stature threatened to be dwarfed when reports emerged from Africa that rival Sulemana Abdul Samed had seen his height estimated at 9ft 6in.

Doctors at a rural clinic in Ghana lacked the proper equipment to verify 29-year-old Sulemana's height but the claimed measurement would have made him the tallest person in history.

It would also mean he towers 15 inches over Turkish farmer Sultan, but the 40-year-old does not believe his records are under threat.

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World's tallest man 'still number one' after doubts emerge over rival's heightSulemana Abdul Samed is known as the 'friendly giant' and wears shoes made out of tyres (BBC)

Guinness World Records lists Sultan as the tallest living person at 2.51m, or 8ft 2.8in. He also has the world's largest hands, The Sun reports.

During an interview in his village in eastern Turkey, he told Andalou news agency: "I have the biggest feet in the world. I wear size 61 shoes.

"I also own the largest hands in the world. My records are registered. I am world cultural heritage.

"I hear some news saying, 'Sultan's record is over, there are people taller than Sultan'. If there is, let's measure our height.

"I've held my record for 14 years. I will not lose my record to anyone. I'm determined about it."

Sulemana has growth disorder Marfan syndrome and is continuing to grow.

Known as the “friendly giant” in his native Ghana, where he is taller than some houses, an estimate of his height at a recent medical check-up would have made Sulemana taller than Robert Wadlow, who was over 8ft 11in when he died in 1940.

World's tallest man 'still number one' after doubts emerge over rival's heightSultan says he does not believe his record is under threat (Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

However, as news of his unofficial record spread, a BBC reporter took a 16ft measuring tape and tracked him down before measuring Sulemana by getting a neighbour to stand on a chair next to the highest wall in the village.

The measured height came in at a more likely 7ft 4in, with Sulemana saying: "The way they measure me, I cannot say everything is perfect.

"I'm still growing tall. Who knows, maybe one day I may get to that height too.

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"Every three months of four months I grow.”

Guinness World Records has only recorded 10 cases in history of people reaching a height of 8ft.

Sultan, who lives in a house specially made for him, has travelled to more than 150 countries as a result of his fame.

David Clark

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