The Worlds Largest Man - Robert Earl Hughes

The heaviest man in recorded medical history, Robert Earl Hughes was born at Kenton, Missouri on June 4, 1926, weighing 11 pounds at birth. At the age of three months he was stricken with whooping cough, after which he began gaining weight uncontrollably. The official explanation for his enormous size was that his coughing fits during his illness had ruptured his thyroid gland. Whether or not this was true, Hughes weighed 375 pounds at the age of 10 and was so large by the seventh grade that he had to drop out of school. By age 20, he weighed 710 pounds, and all attempts to lose weight by dieting were failures. His mother died while he was a teenager, and he was cared for by his father, Abraham, and two average-sized brothers, Guy and Don, and their wives.

Hughes measured over 10 feet around the waist, stood over 6 feet tall, and is the only confirmed human being in history to weigh over 1,000 pounds. He measured 29" around the elbow and 33" around the knee, and wore size 11 shoes. He had to weigh himself on the feed scale at the general store and rode in the back of a truck with a custom-made bench, as he could not fit into a car. In his home, he sat on special reinforced benches and slept on a reinforced bed. All of his clothing was custom-made; a shirt required five yards of cloth, and his pants boasted a 110" waist, 128" seat, 62" thigh and 46" knee.


Despite Hughes' extreme difficulty getting around, he maintained a bright and cheerful disposition. He loved to read, write letters, and listen to the radio, and enjoyed visiting the county fair every year as a guest, not an attraction. For most of his life he refused to go on tour with a circus or carnival, though he received many offers.

In 1956 Hughes was booked to appear on The Wally Jackson Show as the World's Biggest Santa Claus. He flew to New York City in a freight airplane and stayed there for three weeks. When network red tape prevented the filming, Hughes returned to his home in Fish Hook, grumbling, "There'll be no more wild goose chases for me" his television career was over, before it had even started.


At last, in 1958, Hughes consented to be exhibited with the Gooding Bros. Amusement Company. While touring Indiana, he fell ill with measles, which in turn caused him to become uremic. He was taken to the hospital in his show trailer, but was too large to fit inside the building. Doctors treated Hughes in his trailer as it sat parked behind the hospital, but after a week of treatment they were unable to save him. His weight at death was 1,069 pounds. He was embalmed in the bed where he had spent most of his life, and interred in a custom-built coffin. His grave is in Benville Cemetery, Mt. Sterling, Illinois.


Elizabeth Anderson Pheerque -Text













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