The World’s Heaviest Man Gets Married (4/12)

Wednesday 8th April 9.00pm

The documentary strand exploring remarkable tales of human experience continues. This edition revisits morbidly obese Mexican Manuel Uribe as he prepares for the biggest day of his life. Weighing in at some 560kg when he earned the dubious title of the world’s heaviest man in 2006, Manuel has since shed some pounds, found love and is now due to marry.

When he first came to the attention of the media, 43-year-old Manuel Uribe was a desperate man. Weighing over half a ton, the monumental Mexican had been confined to his bed for some years and was severely depressed. “He wanted to kill himself and was always cursing God,” says his mother, Otilia. In the depths of despair, Manuel turned to a local journalist and appealed to the world for help. Floods of offers came in from surgeons and dieticians, and Manuel was soon on a strict regime of exercise and dieting. Two years later, Manuel had lost a massive 180kg. Perhaps more remarkable than his weight loss, however, is the fact that he had managed to find love.

Manuel met his fiancée, Claudia, four years ago. After knowing her as a friend for two years, he began to see her in a different light. “Claudia has a good heart,” he says. “She’s extremely beautiful and very caring.” What is most surprising about Claudia’s decision to marry Manuel is the fact that she has been in this position before. Her first husband weighed 220kg and dropped dead just six years ago as a direct result of his bulk. “People think I’m crazy to do this all over again, but you can’t help who you fall in love with,” says Claudia.

When the pair announced their engagement, it made headlines around the globe. Manuel is amused to see that his story is considered newsworthy in such far-flung places as Australia, China and Europe. “To them it’s like a soap opera,” he says. “But to me it’s real life.” With the media circus in regular attendance at Manuel’s house, the quiet wedding ceremony he and Claudia had planned is no longer an option.Manuel’s huge size also means that his marriage will be somewhat unconventional. Still unable to walk, Manuel will travel to the venue and exchange vows without leaving the relative comfort of his reinforced bed.

Organising a wedding for a man of such proportions is a logistical nightmare. With just a few weeks to go before the big day arrives, Manuel has yet to find a venue with an entrance big enough to accommodate his colossal bed. Finding a suit is also going to be a challenge. With a waistline measuring 2.8 metres, Manuel must bring in a local tailor to make him an outfit from scratch. “One of my favourite actors is Steven Seagal,” says Manuel. “I like the shirts he wears, so I’m going to get one made for the wedding.”

On top of organising his nuptials, Manuel must also continue to exercise regularly if he is to live to see the big day. Despite having lost a quarter of his body weight, Manuel is still morbidly obese and could drop dead at any moment. A stark reminder of Manuel’s vulnerability comes just a few days before his wedding day when another obese Mexican man, Luis Garcia, dies as a result of his size. The news is a shock to the community and a bitter blow to Manuel. “Life is very fragile,” he says. “One could die at any second.”

However, the couple get some better news when a local politician grants them the use of a large club on the other side of Monterrey for their wedding reception. With the venue sorted, Manuel can relax and enjoy his stag night – for which his friends have organised a street party just outside his house. “I feel fortunate to be Mexican,” says Manuel as he enjoys the celebration. “We have a culture of community and support each other.” However, with a number of things still to organise – including the transport across a busy city – will the wedding go without a hitch?

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