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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Robert Wadlow: A True Giant




Robert Wadlow on tour with the International Shoe Company.
Robert Wadlow on tour with the International Shoe Company.


History abounds in superlatives, including the giants that amazed the world with their unusual size. It is only the recent decades that scientific explanations for this phenomenon has emerged, namely pituatary gigantism, marfan syndrome acromegaly, sotos syndrome,eunuchoidism. However, as humanity had always been intrigued by extremes, we are sometimes offered with the blessing of truly unique people, such as Robert Wadlow, still holding the Guinness World Record as the tallest human being to ever exist at a height of 2.72 meters tall (8 feet/ 11 inches).



A tall childhood


Robert Wadlow was born on the 22nd of February, 1918. His parents were not giants, they were people of normal, better said average height for their age. When Robert was only 8 years old, he was already taller than the average person, at a height of 1.80 matters tall (5 feet/ 11 inches). With such a huge body, he was also offered an unimaginable strength for an 8-year-old. He was strong enough to pick up and carry his own father when most fathers would actually carry their children in their arms.

Robert Wadlow at the age of 13
Robert Wadlow at the age of 13



It was difficult for a child like him to fit in with the others, but even so, he tried to go to school and take part in all the activities. Other children were scared to make fun of him, but they didn’t really embrace him for the same reason, for them it was just like an adult repeated the same class for 20 years and ended up repeating the same class again. The major problem was that due to his abnormal height, certain medical problems came up which gave Robert pain from a young age due to him growing very quickly.




At the age of 13 when he became a boy scout, he had a special tent, uniform, and sleeping bag made for his size in order for him to try and live a normal childhood. Although most activities that were intended for a boy scout were quite easy, apart from selling cookies, as most people would not open the door due to fear. On the contrary, Robert was one of the calmest and charming boys around, but seeing people fear him for his unusual size made him repressed. At the age of 17, he was declared the tallest teenager ever, at the height of 2.45 meters tall (8 feet ).


Becoming a Celebrity

In 1936, after graduating from high school, Robert wanted to pursue a career as a lawyer in order to stand up for those that have been wronged. In a way, this was influenced due to the life he had to live as a child were everyone would get the wrong idea about his persona due to his unusual size. Therefore, he embarked on college to study law. Later on, in the same year, he got paid a visit by the famous Ringling Brother Circus (the most famous circus at that time in the U.S), he was offered a career into the circus world as they knew that his size would make him famous overnight.

Robert Wadlow with his average-sized family in 1930
Robert Wadlow with his average-sized family in 1930


You might also ask yourself, how much would such a tall person eat? Well, his usual daily intake at the age of 18 was around 8,000 calories a day. Luckily enough he wasn't much of a picky eater, but as he grew bigger he started to reach a level of consumption of 10,000 calories a day.



A tragic end

Throughout his life, many doctors have examined Robert to discover what exactly made him grow so exponentially. His quick growth was caused by hyperplasia of his pituitary gland. What this condition does is it affect the growth hormone within our bodies, making the body produce more growth hormones than necessary and also in Robert’s case, never stop producing growth hormones. With today’s medical advancements, Doctors are able to alter this disorder in order to stop the production of growth hormones. Robert’s condition caused him to have difficulty getting around — he had leg braces and a walking stick.

A comparison between an averege-sized foot and Robert’s foot
A comparison between an averege-sized foot and Robert’s foot


Sadly, on the 15th of July 1940, Robert died as a result of a septic blister on his right ankle caused by a brace that wasn't fitted properly. Robert was buried at the age of 22 in a coffin measuring 3.28 m (10 ft 9 in) long, 81 cm (32 in) wide and 76 cm (30 in) deep.


By History of Yesterday

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