World's tallest man marries, sweeps bride off feet

July 15, 2007 - 0:0

ERDOS, China (Reuters) -- The world's tallest man married a woman two-thirds his size and almost half his age on Thursday in a traditional Mongolian ceremony sponsored by at least 15 companies hoping to cash in on his fame.

Bao Xishun, 56, a 2.36-meter (7-ft, 9-inch) herdsman from China's vast Inner Mongolia region, was carried to his wedding on the back of a mobile yurt pulled by camels at the Genghis Khan holiday resort on the grasslands near Erdos city. Hundreds of people, some traveling for hours, turned up to see Bao wed saleswoman Xia Shujuan, a mere 1.68 meters (5 ft 6 inches) tall and just 29 years old. Draped in a shimmering blue silk coat, Bao waved to the crowd before going into an enormous yurt where guests ate lamb and cheese and watched Mongolian song and dance shows. "If we can have children, we'll have children," Bao told Reuters before the wedding. "If not, then not. If we have a child, I hope he or she can be 1.8-1.9-metres tall. Then he or she can play basketball." Xia said she was madly in love. "You need to have feelings for someone to be in love. Even if he is a big shot, you can't love him without feelings," Xia said. Bao was confirmed as the world's tallest living man by Guinness World Records last year. He overtook the previous holder, Radhouane Charbib of Tunisia, by just 2 mm. The Guinness World Records says Bao was of normal height until 16 but then put on a spurt that doctors were unable to explain, reaching his full height in seven years. He put out marriage advertisements around the world, but ended up wedding somebody from his home town, Chifeng. Bao and his wife were legally married in March, but wanted to also have an authentic Mongolian ceremony. After a career in the army, where he was recruited for a basketball team, he returned to Inner Mongolia. He now herds livestock and hires himself out for publicity stunts. In December, Bao saved the lives of two dolphins by reaching deep into their stomachs with his 1.06-meter long arm to pull out pieces of plastic, according to Chinese media. Because of his fame, Inner Mongolia decided to turn the wedding into a branding event. "He has a very good image among us in Inner Mongolia," said Bao's agent, Xin Xing. "We plan to use his name as a brand to develop tourism. We want to better help and serve our hometown.