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Mayor Bob Filner Meets With World’s Tallest Man, Sultan Kosen

No, the National Basketball Association isn't returning to San Diego, but you might see a very tall Turk walking around town today.

Flickr / Helgi Halidorsson

Sultan Kosen, 8 feet 3 inches, on a visit to Iceland. Kosen has been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the tallest man in the world since 2009.

Sultan Kosen, who at 8 feet 3 inches has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's tallest man since 2009, is in San Diego to promote an upcoming cultural festival in Orange County.

Kosen, 30, met with Mayor Bob Filner for about 15 minutes in which he said he would love to move to the United States some day and open a Turkish restaurant. Kosen is from the city of Mardin, in the predominantly Kurdish area of southeastern Turkey.

"I was the first congressman to call for an independent Kurdistan,'' said Filner, a 10-term member of the House of Representatives.

The comment brought a handshake and wide smile from Kosen.

"I like to be in California here and I would like to live here,'' he said in Turkish through his interpreter, Atilla Kahveci of the Pacific Institute in Los Angeles.

He told the mayor he realized at the age of 10 that he would be very tall, since he was already 6 feet.

He said a tumor in his pituitary gland fueled his growth and limited his vision, which he said is 90 percent in one eye and 60 percent in the other.

It took multiple surgeries to remove the tumor, he said.

Kosen walks with the help of crutches since a car accident caused weakening of the muscles in his legs.

Kahveci said Kosen has been to 80-90 countries since his designation as the world's tallest person, and finds Southern Californians to be very friendly.

The Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival is scheduled from Thursday through Sunday at the Orange County Fair and Events Center in Costa Mesa.