World's oldest man dies21/10/2003 - 10:08:15
A man believed to be the world’s oldest man has died at the age of 122 in eastern Cambodia.
Most Cambodians have no birth certificates, but friends of chain smoker Sek Yi in the village of Tuk Young claim he was born in 1881.
Reporters from the Phnom Penh Post recently went to visit Yi and his second wife, who is still alive and said to be 111, and they said that Buddhism was a cornerstone of the couple’s existence.
When he was born, Wyatt Earp and his brothers shot down the Clanton gang in the gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. Lillie Langtry, the Prince of Wales’s mistress, made her debut as an actress in London and Thomas Edison switched on the first electric light.
When Yi was asked by a reporter how he managed to live so long, he replied, “Don’t make bad karma. Don’t steal things. Don’t rape someone’s wife.”
Yi’s 56-year-old grandson, Yi Kim Hean, told reporters that his grandfather used to tell him that he was born with “strong energy” and that “even when he was in his 60s, he had the strength of an elephant”.
He always lived and worked in the countryside as a farmer and seasonal labourer, having never travelled to Phnom Penh nor formally studied any subject.
He was renowned as a champion wrestler, a stick fighting instructor, and a singer and player of chabei – a traditional, long-necked string instrument.
Yi had twelve children between two wives, bearing him 70 grandchildren, and an estimated 420 great-grandchildren. He has outlived half of his 12 children, all of whom lived to 70 or 80.
Yi was a teetotaller, having drunk his last glass of palm wine around 70 years ago, but he still smoked. He used to preach staying away from modern chemical fertilisers, and using natural products such as animal manure and ashes.
Japan’s Kamato Hongo, who turned 116 on September 16, was thought to be the oldest documented person in the world now. French woman Jeanne-Louise Calment, who died in 1997, was the oldest fully-authenticated human being at 122 years, 164 days.
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