On October 14, 1992, in the city of Pokhara, Nepal, the lives of Roop Bahadur and Dhan Maya changed forever.
Roop had just given birth to their first child. They named him Khagendra Thapa Magar and little did they know that he would one day become the shortest living man (mobile).
Of course, Khagendra – whose name means "Lord of the Birds" – was extremely small when he'd been born; smaller than any baby the couple had seen before.
“He was so tiny when he was born that he could fit in the palm of your hand and it was very hard to bathe him because he was so small.” Dhan, Khagendra’s father, recalled.
Though it's doubtless that his parents worried about him and his health, Khagendra continued to grow and gain strength. But it soon became apparent that he would never reach the size of his peers – in fact, he would remain much, much smaller than other boys of his age. A while later, Khagendra received a brother who soon outgrew his older sibling and reached average height.
After hearing of Khagendra, Guinness World Records were sure he was the shortest teenager they'd ever seen - but first, he needed to have official measurements taken.
So, in February 2010, aged 17 years, Khagendra took his first international trip, flying to Rome in Italy to be measured by a team of doctors for the TV show Lo Show dei Record.
It was then that he was confirmed to be 65.58 cm (2 ft 1.8 in), making him the shortest living teenager (male).
As October approached, it was clear that Khagendra was also on track to usurp the current record holder for the shortest living man (mobile) at the time, Edward Niño Hernandez (Colombia), who measured 70.21 cm (2 ft 3.46 in) tall.
On the day he turned 18, Khagendra was measured once again, this time at the Fewa City Hospital in Pokhara, Nepal. It was there, dressed in a suit for the official occasion, that he had his new title confirmed.
Marco Frigatti VP of records at Guinness World Records, was on hand to oversee proceedings.
“We have very strict and precise rules for how the measurement should be taken for the shortest man. He has to be measured three times a day - in the morning, at noon and in the evening - and then we take the average measurement for the official result” Marco Frigatti - VP of records
Khagendra’s official measurement was 67.08 cm (2 ft 2.41 in). He also weighed around 6 kg. His short stature was attributed to a proportionate form of dwarfism known as "primordial dwarfism" (PD).
It was also in 2010 that the Khagendra took his first trip to the US, to visit the Wadlow exhibit at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in New York City.
The exhibit, all about Robert Wadlow, the tallest man ever, must have been fascinating to the shortest man living – especially as Khagendra is just 20 cm (7.87 in) taller than the length of one of Robert’s shoes!
Today, Khagendra lives with his parents and likes to spend time in the family’s shop, making music - he plays the madal drum - and riding on his brother’s motorcycle.
"I was really excited to catch up with Khagendra for the Guinness World Records 2020 edition," said the book's Editor-in-Chief, Craig Glenday, who first met the Nepali back in 2010. "It's an honour to be able to celebrate little people such as Khagendra, and to share their remarkable stories. When you're this size, it can't be easy fitting into a world designed for the average person, so it's great to see that Khagendra's lost none of his enthusiasm for life."
He’s held the record for shortest living man (mobile) for nine years and his former title of shortest living teenager (male) is yet to be broken.
Throughout his record-breaking years, he has had the opportunity to meet other “shortest people” record holders, including Jyoti Amge (India) who holds the record for shortest woman living (mobile), measuring 62.8 cm (24.7 in).
She too used to hold the record for shortest living teenager (female) and her teen record is also yet to be broken.
History of the world’s shortest man record title:
- Khagendra Thapa Magar (Nepal, b. 14 Oct 1992) – 67.08 cm (2 ft 2.41 in)
- Chandra Bahadur Dangi (Nepal, 30 Nov 1939?–3 Sep 2015) – 54.6 cm (21.5 in). Mr Dangi was the shortest man ever measured by Guinness World Records.
- Junrey Balawing (Philippines, b.12 Jun 1993) – 59.93 cm (23.5 in). Junrey held the overall title until Chandra was measured in 2012. This is when the title was split into mobile and non-mobile categories. Junrey, whose small stature is a result of a condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta, still holds the record for shortest living man (non-mobile).
- He Pingping (China, 1988–13 Mar 2010) – 74.61 cm (2 ft 5.37 in)
- Nelson de Ia Rosa (Dominican Republic, b. Jun 1968) – 72 cm (28.3 in)
- Michael Henbury-Ballan (UK, b. 26 Nov 1958) – 94 cm (37 in)