Since the dawn of time, stories about men with massive heights and huge physiques have been told over and over. Nearly all of us are familiar with the story of the biblical giant, Goliath. However, it wasn’t until recent times that we could actually record this unusual phenomenon and understand the factors that cause people to grow exceedingly tall. Here is everything there is to know about the 10 tallest men that ever lived and their incredulous heights. Even the tallest basketball players in the NBA right now would still have to strain their necks looking up to the men on this list.
Meet History’s Tallest Men
10. BERNARD COYNE (8 FEET 2 INCHES)
As a result of a condition known as eunuchoidal-infantile gigantism, or more commonly, Daddy Long Legs Syndrome, Bernard Coyne grew to a great height. He was so tall that when he voluntarily tried to enlist in the army during the first world war, they adamantly refused to let him in. Apparently, his height made him an easy target and would make him a liability on the battlefield. The Iowan native was born on July 27, 1897, and his rapid growth began shortly after. By the time he was 21, Bernard measured 8 ft 1 in height. According to medical history, he is one of only a handful of people on record who have grown beyond 8 feet. Unfortunately, Bernard died at the young age of 23, in 1921, after suffering from glandular fever and hardening of the liver. His coffin had to be specially made. It is worth noting that although his height is listed as 8 ft 2 in, he was not officially measured at the time of his death, so it is possible that he was taller than that.
9. DON KOEHLER (8 FEET 2 INCHES)
This Montana native grew to be 8 feet 2 inches in height, making him one of the tallest men that ever lived. Don Koehler grew like every normal child until after his 10th birthday when he began speeding past the rest of his mates and everybody he knew had to literally look up to him. His unusual height made daily life difficult for him. Since a regular bed couldn’t contain him, two beds had to be joined together so he could sleep comfortably. Also, he was constantly bumping his head into things because doorposts, ceilings, and other fixtures were too low for him. Interestingly, Don had a twin sister who was only 5 ft 9 in tall. Later in life, Don became afflicted with kyphosis, a condition that affected the curvature of his spine, causing him to shrink in size. When he passed away from a heart problem in 1981, aged 55, Don measured 7 ft 10 in height.
8. VIKAS UPPAL (8 FEET 2 INCHES)
A lot of controversies have surrounded Vikas Uppal’s claim of being one of the tallest people that ever lived. He was born in Haryana, India, in 1986, and up until his death in 2007, he was never measured by the Guinness Book of Records. Consequently, his height is being disputed, with some sources saying he grew up to 8 ft 10 in. Regardless of which side is right or wrong, no one can deny that Vikas was a giant indeed. He was said to have very large hands and feet that seemed perfectly in line with his gigantic stature.
7. SULTAN KÖSEN (8 FEET 2.8 INCHES)
Born in 1982, Sultan Kosen holds the title of the tallest man in the world. The Turkish giant’s unusual height has been attributed to a tumor in his pituitary gland. He grew normally until age 10 when his height began increasing at an alarming rate. By his next birthday, Kosen was already 6 feet tall. He underwent a surgical procedure to remove the tumor in 2008, but it failed and he continued growing. Finally, medical practitioners at the University of Virginia used the gamma-knife technique to dig out the tumor which was lodged deep into his brain. It has since been confirmed that the surgery was successful and Kosen’s growth had finally been arrested. Kosen spends his days farming and playing computer games. In addition to his tallest living man title, Kosen also holds the record for having the largest feet and hands in the world.
6. EDOUARD BEAUPRE (8 FEET 3 INCHES)
Canada’s tallest man that ever lived, Edouard Beaupre was born in 1881. His acromegaly was caused by a problem in his pituitary gland. In addition to his incredible height, he was also incredibly strong. By the age of 17, Edouard could lift an 800-pound horse. Thanks to his incredulous height and weight, he was able to find work as part of Barnum and Bailey’s Circus, where he was exhibited as a circus freak and strongman. He also had a side career as a wrestler, but soon discovered that he could not bring himself to intentionally hurt another man. At the age of 23, Edouard contracted tuberculosis which left him feeling dizzy and tired. Around midnight on July 3, 1904, he began coughing up blood and despite being rushed to the hospital, he did not make it through the night. The doctors who examined him discovered that he was still growing. Perhaps, if he hadn’t died so prematurely, Edouard might have been the tallest man to ever live.
5. VÄINÖ MYLLYRINNE (8 FEET 3 INCHES)
Väinö Myllyrinne was born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1909 and he was a typical acromegalic giant with long hands, feet, and limbs. By age 21, he was already 7 ft 3.4 in tall, and he continued growing well into his thirties. When he passed away in 1963, at the age of 54, he stood at a height of 8 feet 3 inches. Despite his great height, Vaino was allowed to serve in the Finnish army, making him the tallest soldier in history. He held the record for the tallest living man from 1940 until his death. His hands are credited with being the largest ever recorded, measuring 15.7 inches in width.
4. LEONID STADNYK (8 FEET 5 INCHES)
Technically, Leonid Stadnyk should have held the title of the tallest living man in the world until his death in 2014 (aged 45), but the Ukrainian lost it to Sultan Kosen after refusing to undergo all the standard measuring tests conducted by Guinness World Records. He was measured once and thereafter refused further measuring sessions, so he was stripped of the record. Regardless, he has earned a place on this list of tallest men that ever lived. Interestingly, Leonid’s gigantism was not caused by a tumor or an innate medical condition. His pituitary gland began malfunctioning after he underwent brain surgery at the age of 14. From then on, he began growing abnormally because of the abundant growth hormones being pumped into his system. During his final years, he endured health complications and was unable to walk without assistance.
3. JOHN F. CARROLL (8 FEET 7 ¾ INCHES)
The Buffalo Giant as he is fondly referred to in medical textbooks was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1932. He suffered from acromegalic gigantism, which resulted in his abnormal growth. However, he only began growing speedily at the age of 17, and he kept on growing until he succumbed to death in 1969. In fact, John was reported to have grown seven inches taller in the space of just a few months. A terrible effect of his unusual growth was the damage it did to his spine. He developed an acute case of two-dimensional spinal curvature that soon rendered him unable to stand fully erect. John also began shrinking in size. By the time he passed away, he had shrunk down to 7 feet 8.75 inches in height. It is believed that if it had been possible to correct his spinal curvature and measure him properly, John’s true height would have come closer to 9 feet.
2. JOHN ROGAN (8 FEET 9 INCHES)
Boasting a height of 8 feet 9 inches, John Rogan is the second tallest man that ever lived. He was of African descent and was born in 1868, in Tennessee. He exhibited no unusual growing signs until he was 13 and then his height shot up. By the age of 14, Rogan could no longer walk or stand as a result of a condition known as ankylosis, which inflamed his joints and caused them to stiffen. He earned a living from selling postcards and pictures of himself at the local train station. His condition worsened as he grew older, and in 1905, Rogan died from health-related complications. His family buried him under a thick slab of concrete to prevent people from digging out his corpse for whatever reason.
1. ROBERT WADLOW (8 FEET 11.1 INCHES)
Holding down the number one spot on our list of tallest men that ever lived is The Giant of Illinois himself, Robert Wadlow, who reached the remarkable height of 8 feet 11 inches. He was born in 1918 and his excessive growth was caused by hypertrophy of his pituitary gland, resulting in the production of copious amounts of growth hormones. At the age of 9, Wadlow had already grown to be 6 ft 2 in with a bodyweight of 77 kg. His community did the best they could to accommodate his special needs including building a custom-made desk for him at school. Wadlow’s terrific height was accompanied by some complications such as brittle bones and inability to feel his feet. He had to wear leg braces to support his stature. Unfortunately, he developed a blister while wearing one of them, causing his foot to become infected. He underwent emergency surgery and blood transfusions, but neither was able to keep him from dying. He left this earthly plane in his sleep on July 15, 1940, aged 22. Wadlow’s funeral was attended by about 40,000 people.