World's shortest man
The Guinness World Record for the world's shortest man was announced in Dubai Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

Dubai: Guinness World Records on Thursday declared Iranian Afshin Esmaeil Ghaderzadeh, 20, as the shortest living man in the world with a height of 65.24 cm (2 ft 1.68 in).

Hailing from a remote village in Bukan County, West Azerbaijan Province, Afshin was flown into Dubai to be measured by the Guinness officials.

He was verified as the shortest man on December 13 in Dubai, beating the previous record holder Colombian Edward Niño Hernández by 6.86cm, Craig Glenday, Editor in Chief, Guinness World Records announced at a press conference in Dubai.

Guinness official adjudicator Alwaleed Osman, who read out the official declaration and handed the Guinness Record certificate to Afshin, said Dr. Bindu Devarajan, general practitioner - Ahalia Group, took Afshin’s measurements three times on the day of verification, resulting in the accurate record height.

Glenday, who flew in from the UK for the iconic record ceremony, said: “It's been a privilege to meet with Afshin and his family, and to confirm him as the new world's shortest living adult man. At just 65.24 cm, he not only comfortably beats the existing record but he's also one of the shortest men to ever hold this title. This is one of those fundamental human-body superlatives, and receiving this official confirmation is a potentially life-changing moment in this charming young man's life.”

Accompanied by his mother Khatoon and father Esmaeil, Afshin attended the press conference in a newly stitched suit that fits a two or three-year-old child. As they only speak Kurdish and Persian languages, the family interacted with the media with the help of translators.

shortest man Afshin
World's shortest man Afshin Image Credit:

His story

Afshin’s parents said they had lost two children before their birth and Afshin is their only child. Born with a body weight of 700 grams (1.5 pounds), Afshin suffers from a genetic disorder that has caused a type of primordial dwarfism, which has not been diagnosed yet. His parents said some of their relatives are also short like Afshin, but not as short as him.

His father, who is a blue-collar worker, said Afshin’s life in Northern Iran has not been easy. “We don’t have enough facilities for his treatment,” he said. The house they live in is modest, and they sometimes struggle to provide enough for his living expenses, medication and treatment.

His mother said either of them has to be with him and help him with his daily tasks. Afshin cannot travel around the village alone, and he is always escorted by one of his parents. While he can actually walk, he sometimes prefers to be carried as he gets tired fast.

World's shortest man
Afshin declared world's shortest man in Dubai on Thursday Image Credit:

Afshin is very outgoing and kind, and therefore very popular with the locals in his village. Both his parents, as well as the community he lives in, call him by the name “Mohammed".

“I know who the tallest man living in the world is. I might fit in the palms of his hands,” he said. Afshin has a high-pitched voice as his voice box is very small, explained Glenday.

“I think he has trouble with his hips and he is having trouble to walk very far. I think he broke his arm at some point, which didn't heal very cleanly. So there are a few things that would be nice to address now, before he gets too much older as it just gets worse as he gets older. We will also have to do a deeper investigation into his general health and try and diagnose what type of dwarfism it is. I'm hoping that as a result of today, people, who saw details of the press conference, will come forward and offer help him and that has happened with previous record holders. ” Glenday added.

Unable to attend school, Afshin has struggled with literacy, although he is delighted to have recently learned to write his name. He was also pleased to have been gifted a phone from a friend recently, which allowed him some greater connectivity, but he finds it difficult to carry and use. “Phones in general are heavy to use for a long time, yet I still manage,” added Afshin who has an Instagram account.

Afshin with his certificate
World's shortest man Afshin stands with his Guinness World Record certificate Image Credit:

Visiting Burj Khalifa

Judging by the enthusiasm he has shown during his visit to Dubai where people swarmed him to take selfies, Afshin is more than ready to enjoy his new-found celebrity status and become a household name.

He has already ticked one item off his bucket list: to visit the top of the Burj Khalifa. “Oh, it is a really tall building,” was his reaction about the world's tallest building.

While his parents are looking for support for their son with the new fame, Afshin said he loves to be famous and getting attention from the people. “My dream is to be able to help my parents. This global recognition might help me achieve my dream.” After flying into Dubai, he now wishes to fly around the world as well.

Afshin loves to eat kebabs and traditional Persian rice dishes. He loves to sing and dance and is quick to show off his footwork when he hears his favourite Iranian Kurdish music, said his parents.

Afshin with his parents
World's shortest man Afshin with his parents in Dubai on Thursday Image Credit: Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter

Who will win FIFA World Cup? Here is Afshin’s pick

Though his size precludes him from taking part in any sports, Afshin is a big soccer fan. His favourite players are fellow GWR record-breakers Cristiano Ronaldo and Iran’s former national captain, Ali Daei as well as Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

Though he is a Messi fan, Afshin feels France will lift the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Afshin was not lucky enough to have owned any of Guinness World Records books, but human-body related records are his favourite. “Just thinking about being part of the Guinness World Records family is like a dream. I struggle to believe it sometimes. It is like you wake up the next day and the entire world now knows who you are. That’s magical,” Afshin was quoted as saying. “I like the attention I get from people. It makes me feel special,” he added.

Timeline of Shortest man living record, since 2010:
13 April 2010: Edward “Niño” Hernandez first confirmed as shortest man living (70.21 cm); category was previously vacant following the death of China’s He Pingping in March 2010
14 October 2010: Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal confirmed as shortest man living (67.08 cm) upon turning 18 (prior to this, he was shortest teenager living (male))
12 June 2011: Junrey Balawing (Philippines) confirmed as shortest man living (59.93 cm)
26 February 2012: Chanda Bahadur Dangi (Nepal) confirmed as shortest man living and shortest man ever (54.6 cm)
Upon the death of Dangi (3 September 2015), Magar was reinstated as shortest man living (mobile) and Balawing reclassified as shortest man living (non-mobile)
Upon the death of Magar (17 January 2020), Hernandez (72.10 cm) was re-measured on 29 February 2020 and reinstated as shortest man living (mobile); Balawing remained shortest man living (non-mobile) until his death on 28 July 2020
13 December 2022: Afshin Esmaeil Ghaderzadeh was measured to be 65.24 cm (2 ft 1.68 inches) and confirmed as the shortest man living (mobile).