DALIAN, Liaoning Province: When you stand 2.36 metres tall, you are going to
For a shy person like Bao Xishun, the world's tallest man, this can be a
"Wherever I appear, I immediately become the centre of attention. But back in
my hometown, I still live a normal life," 55-year-old Bao told China Daily,
wearing his 2005 Guinness World Record badge on his chest.
Bao Xishun at a Dalian hospital [China
Bao, a native of Inner Mongolia, came to the port city of Dalian in Northeast
China's Liaoning Province this month to be treated for rheumatism, a disease
that has plagued him for the past 36 years.
His appearance in the clinic caused chaos. People gathered around and jostled
for a view of the extraordinary sight, but Bao remained friendly and allowed
people to take photos with him.
In the clinic, a chair was specially made for him and the bed lengthened.
"Even the dose for his treatment is twice as much as normal," said doctor Sun
Zhijie. Explaining the treatment, Sun said he uses traditional Chinese medicine
to treat affected parts of the legs.
"After one more course of treatment, the aches will disappear," the doctor
Bao was born in 1951 into a herdsman's family in Inner Mongolia Autonomous
Region. His family is said to be descended from the offspring of Genghis Khan,
the founder of Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), but he and his five siblings had a
Until the age of 15 he was of normal height, but then he went through a
massive growth spurt, reaching 2.1 metres by the time he was 20. He developed
rheumatism when he was young, as he often slept outside on the grassland with
His father took him to Shenyang, capital of neighbouring Liaoning Province,
in search of treatment. While he was there he was spotted by an army basketball
coach, who was so impressed by his height that he recruited him.
Bao rates his time in the army as the happiest of his life, but
unfortunately, his legs began to fail him and treatment proved ineffective.
"Yao Ming would be the second Bao Xishun if Bao were a successful player,"
said former coach Leng Wanju.
"If it weren't for the disease, I might have become a basketball superstar
just like Yao," Bao said with a shrug.
After three years in the army, Bao was discharged, and he returned to his
grassland home. he struggled to settle down and find a wife, and gradually he
became more and more withdrawn.
His mother's death when he was 40 came as a hammer blow. She had been an
integral part of his life, making clothes and shoes for him and looking after
He shut himself off from the world until 2004, when a restaurant owner in
Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, transformed his life.
The man, named Xin Xing, invited him to serve as a greeter for 10 days, and
his extraordinary presence at the door quickly attracted attention from the
press. A newspaper in Chifeng city helped him visit a local hospital, where
doctors reassured him that he wasn't suffering gigantism.
Bao was relieved. "I'm a normal person, growing naturally," he said.
In late 2004, the local newspaper applied to Guinness for Bao to be listed as
the tallest man living in the world. As he was 0.2 cm taller than the record
holder Radhouane Charbib of Tunisia, he was awarded the title.
On July 21, 2005, Bao got the Guinness certificate in his hometown and was
invited to London in September for a Guinness global activity, catapulting him
to international fame.
In June this year, he went to Japan for a TV interview, and last month he was
part of a Shanghai TV show. He is the face of several medical products, and now
when he leaves home it is almost always for some commercial or media events,
organized by the restaurateur Xin.
Despite the trappings of fame, Bao remains shy: " I want to live a normal
life like my father, who is 94."
Bao spends his mornings walking and afternoons playing cards with his
neighbours, occasionally reading some Mongolian books.
But there is aso some excitement in his life: Bao now has a girlfriend, who
he hopes to marry.
(China Daily 08/11/2006 page1)