Over the years, human height has been a very fascinating topic. While being tall, especially for men, is mostly preferred, being extra tall attracts a fair share of attention. In most cases, extra tall people, the kind that are labelled “the tallest on earth,” usually suffer from various medical conditions. We scoured the internet and identified some of the tallest people to ever live, and here are our findings.

1. Robert Wadlow (8’11”)

Robert Wadlow is the tallest person known in history, with a height of 272 cm (2.72 meters). He was born in 1918 in the United States and suffered from a condition called gigantism that was triggered by the swelling of his pituitary gland. Despite being very tall, Robert was a very kind individual and engaged in numerous acts of charity. Unfortunately, Robert Wadlow passed away when he was 22 years old.

2. John Rogan (8’9”)

Nicknamed Bud, John Rogan is recognized as the tallest non-mobile person ever. John had a height of 267 cm (2.67 meters). He suffered from a condition known as ankylosis that made it impossible for him to walk. While it is often debated whether John was born in 1868 or 1871, it is known that he was born in Tennessee to a formerly enslaved man called William Rogan. His gigantism started when he was 13, which ended up triggering the ankylosis. John made a living by selling postcards and portraits at a train station. He died in 1905

3. John F. Caroll (8’8”)

John suffered from a condition known as kyphoscoliosis or 2-D spinal curvature; his height was 8ft ¼ in. On the other hand, if John hadn’t suffered from the condition that made his spine curve, his standing height would have been 8 feet 8 inches, making him the third tallest man in history. His gigantism was first noticed when he was 16 years old, and it continued growing throughout his teen years. In medical papers, John was referred to as the Buffalo Giant.

4. Frank Winkelmeier (8’5.6”)

The story of Frank, the tallest man in Europe, is quite interesting. With a height of 259cm, Frank amazed many people in Austria, his home country, because he was taller than everyone, including soldiers. He eventually became a performer after being introduced to the limelight by a tailor from Friedburg. From there, Frank performed at the Concordia Theater in Berlin, Paris, and London. Unlike many tall people, Frank didn’t die from gigantism – he succumbed to tuberculosis.

5. Vaino Myllyrinne

By his late 30s, Vaino Myllyrinne had attained a height of 251cm making him the tallest living person from 1940 to 1963. Vaino was born in Helsinki, Finland, where he served in his country’s defense forces. Unlike most giants, Vaino was very strong, so he doubled as a wrestler and a circus performer. Later, he served in the Finnish army and then returned home to practice poultry farming. Besides being one of the tallest people on earth, Vaino also broke the record for having the biggest hand. His hand measured 13.4 inches.

6. Sultan Kosen (8’2.8”)

Sultan Kosen is a Turkish resident born in 1982. Like Robert Waldow, Kosen was diagnosed with a swollen pituitary gland that caused his gigantism. With a height of 251cm, he mostly uses crutches to walk. Sultan is an active participant in campaigns concerning gigantism. He says he wants society to embrace this condition because that’s the only way it can be identified and probably treated earlier.

7. Zeng Jinlian (8’1.7”)

With a height of 248 cm, Zeng is the tallest woman, as documented in the Guinness World Records. Zeng was born in 1964 in China, where she was diagnosed with pituitary gigantism. Unlike most kids her age, Zeng’s height increased quickly, but her family didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately, the lack of medical help led to Zeng’s untimely death at 17 years old. It was only after her passing away that the local community’s attention was turned to gigantism.

8. Benard Coyne (8’)


When he was drafted for World War I, Benard’s registration card read that he had a height of 8 feet, equivalent to 240cm. He wore a shoe size 24 (American). When he died in 1921, Benard was buried in an extra-large coffin because he couldn’t fit in the standard-sized ones. It is believed that he had reached a height of 8’4” at the time of his death.

9. Anna Haining Bates (7’11.5”)

Anna should be a familiar name because she was the spouse of Martin Van Buren Bates; they were the tallest married couple. She lived from 1846 to 1888, when she reached a height of 241 cm, making her one of the tallest women in the world.

Surprisingly, Anna was born to parents of average height. She was born overweight, and her height grew rapidly. By the time she was ten years old, Anna had a height of 185cm. Her parents took her to performances at circus shows, where she performed so well that Queen Victoria requested for her. The royal gifted Anna a diamond ring and a gown. Later on, Anna met Martin Bates in Halifax and got married in a mansion in Ohio.

10. Jane Bunford (7’11”)

Having lived from 1856 to 1916, Jane was the tallest woman in the world during her lifetime. She had a height of 241cm when you factor in the adjustments of the spinal curvature. Unlike most of the people discussed here, Jane wasn’t born with gigantism. She had an accident when she was 11 and unfortunately damaged her pituitary gland.

While attending school at St. Micheal’s Secondary, Jane couldn’t fit in the desks, making it difficult for her to pass through the doors. By age 13, Anna was 198cm tall. She developed spinal curvature that caused her untimely death.

11. Yao Defen (7’8”)

Before she died in 2012, Yao was recognized by the Guinness World Records as the tallest living woman. She was 221 cm tall and weighed 157kg. Yao went to the hospital when she was 15, and the doctors diagnosed her with gigantism. However, they didn’t cure her because her parents didn’t have the 4000 yuan needed for the surgery. Yao performed as an entertainer before passing on at 39 years old.

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Last Update: May 16, 2024