Edward Nino Hernandez is in many ways a typical 24-year-old Colombian male. He loves to dance, dreams of owning a car – preferably a Mercedes – and wants to see the world.
Top of his list of people he would like to meet are Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
What sets Nino apart is his size.
He is slightly taller than a piece of hand luggage and weighs just 22lb (10kg).
Nino has just been officially certified as the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records, measuring 27in (70cm).
“He hasn’t grown since he was two years old,” his mother, Noemi Hernandez, said of the oldest of her five living children.
The previous title-holder was He Pingping, of China, who was 1.5in (4cm) taller and died on March 13. The Guinness people discovered Nino afterwards.
They say Nino’s reign is not likely to last long, however.
Khagendra Thapa Magar, of Nepal, is expected to take over after he turns 18 on October 14. He measures about 22in (56cm) and is currently recognised by Guinness as the shortest living teenager.
Doctors never could explain why Nino is so small, his parents said.
“They never gave us a diagnosis,” Mrs Hernandez said during an interview in the family’s sparely furnished apartment in Bosa, a mostly poor district of southern Bogota.
The 43-year-old said Nino weighed just 3.3lb (1.5kg) at birth and was 15in (38cm) long.
She said doctors at the National University studied him until he was three and then lost interest. She and her husband, a security guard, lost a daughter who was similarly small in 1992, just before her first birthday.
The couple’s youngest child, 11-year-old Miguel Angel, stands 37in (93cm) tall and has facial features similar to Nino. The other three boys are of normal height and appearance.
“I feel happy because I’m unique,” Nino said in an interview with The Associated Press.
He does, however, have his problems: cataracts in both eyes which blur his vision and, says his mother, require urgent surgery that the family cannot afford.
“He doesn’t see well. He isn’t able to read,” she said.
During an interview, Nino’s eyes water and he fidgets with the laces on his toddler-sized black dress shoes.
Other than his eyes, he has no medical complaints.
He is mentally sharp and laughs easily although it is sometimes hard to understand his high-pitched speech and his stubby fingers make writing difficult.
Nino had to repeat several years of school before dropping out in the eighth grade. But he is very sociable, loves to travel – although he has not been outside Colombia – and likes to play dominoes and checkers.
“He only gets depressed when he’s shut in at home,” his mother said.
Leafing through an advance copy of the Guinness World Records 2011 edition, which launches on September 15 in the United States and the next day internationally, Mrs Hernandez shows Nino a picture of the world’s smallest woman, who is from India.
He is not the least bit interested.
Nino says he already has a girlfriend. She’s 18, is named Fanny and measures just under 5ft (1.5m), he says.
Nino has earned some cash dancing at department stores and is now acting in a film in which he plays a pint-sized drug thug.
In his big scene, Nino gets into a shootout.
He acts out the scene, mimicking a pistol with the index fingers of his entwined hands, then slumps over on to the chair’s arm. His character does not survive the gunbattle.
Nino smiles broadly at the idea of more acting jobs and more life in the spotlight.
And he says he has got used to all the picture-taking.
But being the world’s smallest man does have its drawbacks.
“It bothers me that people are (always) touching me and picking me up,” he said.