Ukraine: Ukraine’s gentle giant meets with fans

by Alex Noone 1,378 views

The giant who is to join this year’s Ukranian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest  has allowed fans a unique insight into his life.

Igor Vovokovinskiy met with fans in Malmö yesterday afternoon and told them a little bit about himself. I am a gentle giant, he said.  I don’t like conflict, and I don’t like confrontation. I love seeing new people, new places, and experiencing new things. I always do things to the best of my abilities, I do not pretend to be something I’m not.

You can watch Igor meeting his fans here

Since his arrival in Malmö, the very tall Ukrainian has received a lot of attention both on an off stage. Already have 2 or 3 stalkers here in Sweden, he told his followers on twitter. Dudes that stand outside the hotel looking in 12-16 hours a day. I guess I’m honored? Or scared.

Originally from Ukraine, Igor Vovkovinskiy was diagnosed at a young age with pituitary gigantism. The condition is rare. It is caused by a tumour pressing on the pituitary gland. This makes the gland overactive and results in the body producing too much growth hormone. At the age of 7, and already standing an impressive 183cm tall, and weighting 90kgs, Igor emigrated with his mother to Minnesota in the USA where he could receive treatment.

After a series of surgical treatments, Igor’s tumour was partially removed. It was too deeply embedded to be taken out entirely, and so Igor has continued to grow. When he was measured in 2010 he became the tallest man both in the USA and in Ukraine at 234.5cms.

But being so tall is not without its difficulties. In March of last year, his friend and supporter, Jean Day, told the media: His bed needs to be specially built, his mother hand-made all his clothes…The floors of his house needed to be reinforced and ceilings, doors all made much taller than normal and those costs added up.

Igor, who speaks fluent Ukrainian, Russian and English, will be appearing on stage with Zlata Ognevich when she sings Gravity for Ukraine at the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 on Tuesday 14 May. He will carry her into the centre of the stage, an area Zlata has described as representing a magic circle. Zlata also told journalists that Igor’s imposing presence on the stage will serve to symbolize her own inner strength in overcoming obstacles to reach her dream. For him, the song’s message is important. Zlata’s song speaks to me on a lot of levels, the gravity that she must overcome is something I must overcome every day, he told journalists. And when you’re as big as I am, gravity works extra hard to keep you down. I know I have to overcome my gravity, but in the end it’s all well worth it… It’s fun for me, and it’s an honor to be invited to be a part of the Ukrainian team as a fellow Ukrainian, I am proud to represent my homeland.

And although he towers over the petite singer, Igor was impressed by her vocal power, and that of her backing singers. He told his followers on twitter Zlata has an amazing voice! An Amazing team of backup singers. And an amazing staff! Thank you everyone!!

Over the years, Igor has made a number of memorable appearances in film and on television. Most recently, he has been seen in documentaries in Australia and Japan, but it’s for his brief role in the Farrelly Brothers’ film, Hall Pass that he is most noted. In it, he plays the possessive boyfriend of a woman who is being chatted up by another man.

Zlata and Igor will be joined on stage at next Tuesday’s semi-final by four backing vocalists.