Junrey Balawing from the Philippines turned 18 on Sunday and was officially declared the shortest man in the world. Junrey Balawing is less that 2 feet small, his height is 56 cm.
Junrey’s family lives in a small remote village. It takes them more than an hour to get to the nearest town Zamboanga del Norte. His father Reynaldo, 37, works as a blacksmith, and his mother Concepcion, 35, has to stay as home all day, as Junrey constantly needs her assistance.
Concepcion said: “I would love to be able to work while my other children are at school but I can’t leave Junrey. He needs my care every minute of every day. Junrey can only walk with some help and he can’t stand for too long because he’s in too much pain. But he loves it when I tell him he’s the smallest man in the world, he just smiles with pride.”
Junrey likes to ride on his father’s shoulders or to be carried by his mother. Both Junrey’s siblings are younger but taller than him. They go to school, while Junrey has to stay at home with his mother. But he has learnt to write and draw and sometimes helps at the family’s farmhouse by feeding chicken.
Junrey stopped growing when he was about 1 year old. When his family noticed that something was wrong with the boy they came to see a doctor. But doctors couldn’t help. They just offered expensive vitamins which Junrey’s parents couldn’t afford.
“He was always sick and we noticed he wasn’t growing so we took him to see a doctor but they were baffled,” Junrey’s mother said. After that doctors in Manila suggested that he needed treatment, which cost 100,000 pesos (that is about £1,500). It is more than everything that Junrey’s father can earn for the whole life working as a blacksmith.
His father said: “I am only at home at weekends because I have to work so much to feed the family. But even if I worked every day for the rest of my life I couldn’t afford the expensive doctors in Manila.”
During the ceremony at the town hall of the nearest to Junrey’s village town Junrey Balawing was measured 56 cm. The ceremony was attended by about 100 villagers and journalists.
Guinness World Records representative Craig Glenday officially recognized Balawing as the shortest adult man in the world, and presented him the framed certificate which was almost the same size as its recipient.
Glenday was impressed by Junrey’s constant smiling. He said: “Although he’s short, he takes that in stride. He has this cheeky smile.” Junrey Balawing is 11cm (4.3in) shorter than the current smallest man in the world – Khagendra Thapa Magar, 18, who stands at 67 cm (2ft 2.3in).
And he’s a little bit smaller than the shortest man on record, Gul Mohammed from India, who measured just 57cm (1ft 10.5in). He was a heavy smoker and died in 1997 at the age of 40. Junrey Balawing’ father also said: “I can’t believe Junrey is going to be famous all over the world and people are flying from countries like Britain and America to see him.”
Hatice Kocaman, 21, from Turkey, is the world’s smallest woman, at just 28in tall. She suffers from a rare bone disorder which means she weighs only 15lb. At just over 28in, American Stacey Herald is the world’s smallest mum. The 36-year-old, from Kentucky, has three kids with hubby Wil, 27, who is 5ft 9in. [Guinness World Records via The Huff Post, Reuters and Daily Mail]