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Tall tale of true-life romance
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09:17, July 13, 2007

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At 2.36 meters, Bao Xishun is a good 10 cm taller than Yao Ming.

In the army, he was recruited to play for the basketball team but rheumatism put paid to any hopes of a sporting career.

Yesterday, the Guinness-certified world's tallest living man, who is 56, said before his wedding ceremony: "If we have a child, I hope he or she can be 1.8-1.9-meters tall. Then he or she can play basketball."

He told China Daily earlier: "If it weren't for my disease, I might have become a basketball superstar just like Yao."

But for a day at least, Bao was as famous as Yao as global organizations joined Chinese print and television counterparts in a media scrum at his wedding ceremony in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Yao's face may launch a thousand products but Bao, no stranger to the media in China, attracted about 15 sponsors for almost everything during his wedding - from liquor to his shoes. One firm specially made a 2.9-meter blanket of camel hair for the marriage.

Inner Mongolia used his fame to turn the wedding into a branding event.

"He has a very good image in Inner Mongloa," Bao's agent Xin Xing was quoted as saying. "We plan to use his name to develop tourism."

His bride, Xia Shujuan - 28 years old and 1.68 meters tall - reaches his elbow at about two-thirds his height, and is half his age.

She basked in the limelight yesterday - after all, she was the chosen one after Bao's worldwide hunt for a bride.

She was an assistant at a shopping mall in Chifeng of Inner Mongolia; and it was love at first sight when they met on February 24.

The wedding was held on the grasslands of Erdos, where some Mongolian legends say Genghis Khan is buried.

After offering a sacrifice to the gods at 8 am, Bao, wearing a blue silk robe and bow and arrows slung across his back, led a parade of 99 young men and 49 horses to the bride's yurt.

After the traditional wedding, Bao - who some say is a descendant of the Khan - carried his bride in a 12-meter-long war chariot. The couple spent the night in a yurt.

A 2.8 by 2.2 meter bed was ready for the couple, but their 3-meter-high home is still under construction.

The wedding was the best time in his life, apart from the three years he spent in the army as a basketball player, he said. He had to quit at 23 because of rheumatism.

Late last year, Bao hit the news when he saved two dolphins in an ocean aquarium in Northeast China by reaching into their stomachs with his 1.06-meter arm and taking out pieces of plastic that the dolphins had swallowed and which were lodged in their stomachs.

Source: China Daily



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