The first thing that people notice about Brahim Takioullah is not his feet — which he hopes will make him famous — but his enormous height.
He stands more than eight foot (246 cm) tall.
As he strolls through downtown Paris people gasp, stare, take his picture and ask: “Are you the tallest man in the world?” He’s not, not quite, but he does have the biggest pair of feet on the planet — and that’s official.
Judges from Guinness World Records came to France to measure him and confirmed his suspicion that he had record-breaking feet — his left measuring one foot three inches (38.1 cm) in length and his right, one foot 2.76 inches.
Takioullah cannot stand up straight in the small flat he shares with his mother in the Paris suburbs, has difficulty getting into a taxi or the Metro, and can never move around without attracting attention.
But he is surprisingly good humoured about his situation, smiling and posing for cellphone snaps and politely answering questions about his condition, a rare medical problem that he hopes to cure through surgery.
Takioullah is from Morocco, and grew up in a small village — grew up fast. In one year in his teens he put on more than three feet (one metre) in a spurt.
Now 29, no-one thought to investigate his unusual size until he was 18.
“The school doctor noticed that I was this enormous size and asked me to get some blood tests. I did that, and I was diagnosed with a very rare condition called acromegaly,” he told AFP.
Acromegaly is a pituitary gland disorder that causes the body to produce excessive growth hormone. The brain tumour can lead to other problems aside from great size, and Takioullah was advised to seek surgery.
But first he decided to finish his university studies in geography. When he began treatment, he was already huge and closing in on the world’s tallest man, eight-foot three-inch (2.51 metre) Sultan Kosen of Turkey.
Five years ago, a French doctor brought him to Paris for treatment, and he is not expected to reach Sultan’s height record.
Takioullah contacted Guinness himself to challenge for the record, and says he is proud to have it recognised, though daily life is not without its problems.
He hopes one day to have a specially built car he could drive himself, but for now even getting a pair of shoes stretches his budget — he takes a European size 58, which no shop has ever stocked.
“I always need them made-to-measure and they’re very expensive. I once asked a cobbler to make me some shoes and he said it would cost 3,500 euros (5,270 dollars),” he sighed.
This week he met an orthopedic podiatrist to be fitted with a specially made pair designed to support his huge weight.
“The thing is, when you have a very very large foot, even the machine to make the components isn’t necessarily big enough. So we really had to work right on the edge of the machinery.” said Jerome Liegeon.
French doctors are working to reduce Takioullah’s brain tumour, and he hopes his newfound fame will help him find the specialist treatment he needs.
“The record now will be known around the world, and experts anywhere around the planet may be able to help,” said Craig Glenday of Guinness World Records, publisher of the famous guide to the world’s extremes.