Individually, they are tall enough to turn heads. Together, Wilco and Keisha van Kleef-Bolton are simply jaw-dropping.
He’s a ceiling-scraping, doorway-bonking 7 feet, an altitude seen more often in basketball players than security guards. She’s 6-foot-5, an impressive height for a woman, but just right for the man with whom she goes through life.
If that’s not enough to get your attention, Wilco, who was born in the Netherlands, is blond and pale, while Keisha, who is of African heritage, is dark. They have two children: Lucas, a 4-year-old who’s tall enough to pass for 7, and Eva, 2, who’s as tall as a girl a year older.
Until recently, the van Kleef-Boltons merely seemed to be the tallest married couple in their Essex, England, hometown — or anywhere else, for that matter. Now, it’s official: The Guinness Book of World Records has declared the towering twosome the tallest married couple in the world.
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They were not without competition. Internet searches turn up other couples who would seem to be taller, including an Indian couple, Sharad and Sanjot Kulkarni, who claimed heights of 7-foot-2 and 6-foot-4, respectively. But after a worldwide search that included an Internet appeal, Guinness has certified the heights of the British pair, as well as the validity of their marriage. At a combined 13 feet, 5 inches, they are in the famous book’s 2010 edition as the tallest in the world.
According to British media reports, the couple met through an Internet site for tall people. Keisha was looking for a dance partner tall enough for her.
“I’m 7 ft.,” Wilco responded. “Is that tall enough?” The average British male is 5-foot-10; the average female, 5-foot-4.
The U.K.’s Sun reported on the couple’s nuptials in 2001, when Wilco was 20 and Keisha 22. “Everywhere, people stare,” Keisha said at the time. “Some even ask if we are wearing stilts.”
Wilco works as a security guard at a local college. “I have to get my uniform custom-made. And finding a good pair of shoes that fit is really difficult,” he told British newspaper The Daily Mail.
According to the paper’s website, the two live in an apartment with a bedroom that is not big enough for an extra-long bed, so they sleep with their feet hanging out. They also dream of raising the doorways so they don’t have to bend to keep from hitting their heads.
On the plus side, Keisha never needs a stool to reach things on high shelves — or the top of the slide at the local playground.
Keisha, who wears a size 12, told The Daily Mail she was the object of jokes in school and quit wearing high heels when she was 18.
“'I use normal women’s dresses as shirts because they come up so short,” the woman with the 38-inch legs told the newspaper. When she was pregnant, there were no women’s clothes big enough for her, so she wore men’s clothing.
Wilco said he goes to American clothing sites that cater to basketball players to get the size 15 shoes he wears. Finding pants with a 40-inch inseam isn’t that easy, either.
Wilco told The Daily Mail his parents took him to medical specialists when he reached the height of a normal man at the age of 10. The doctors determined his height was due purely to tall genes; he did not have a medical condition that was causing him to grow.
Still, when he was 12, doctors started giving him hormones to make him stop growing, their concern being that if he grew too tall, it would put too much stress on his knees and other joints. Wilco told reporters he stopped growing at 16. In his wedding photos he’s rail-thin, but he has since filled out to 260 pounds, which he appears to carry easily on his extra-large frame.
Eventually, the couple said they would like to have two more children.
“We think four is the ideal number, but we think we can wait until these two are a bit bigger,” Keisha told The Daily Mail, referring to her two rapidly growing children.
“Looking at them, it won't take that long,” she added.
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