December 15, 2012
The Eighth Wonder of the World; Andre the Giant…WTF?
Sometimes science gives us WTF moments, other times it’s a political moment, or something someone accomplished; other times it’s simply a person themselves that causes you to go…WTF?
As a former professional wrestler (wrestling under the moniker “Epic” Cashis Carter) I have met many people where I just had to ask myself, WTF? But no one other than Andre the Giant will make you use that expression more. I never had the pleasure of meeting this Giant, but I’m a giant fan (pun intended) of the wrestler and entertainer that he was.
Andre the Giant (André René Roussimoff May 19, 1946 – January 27, 1993) suffered from acromegaly, a growth disease that eventually killed him due to congestive heart failure. But during his short time with us he entertained, inspired, and left us all in awe.
At age twelve Andre was already 6’3” and 240 lbs. It is reported that at his biggest Andre was 7’4” tall and well over 500 pounds. His boot size was 22 and his hand was the size of a professional baseball glove. You could fit a silver dollar through his pinky ring and the average man’s hand could fit through a ring made for his middle finger. He had to have his wrist watch made from a 1900s pocket watch. With stunning stats like those it’s no wonder his nickname was the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Not only did he have size, but in his prime he had phenomenal strength. One night at a bar, four men decided to harass the giant, how stupid were they, and Andre got up off of his stool to confront them. The men ran outside into a car and Andre followed, and then tipped the car over on its roof!
Andre was quite the drinker and it has been reported that he averaged 7000 calories a day in alcohol alone. Because of his size it was nearly impossible for him to get extremely drunk, but one of the most famous stories in the industry is the time he did accomplish this feat. It took 119, 12 oz beers in six hours, for the giant man to be drunk enough to pass out in a hallway at the hotel where he was staying. His peers were too afraid to wake him and they didn’t even want to attempt to move him, so they simply covered him with a piano cover they commandeered from a piano in the hotel lobby.
In Japan Andre was treated like a God. Most American wrestlers are treated this way in Japan, given how large they are compared to their native pro-wrestlers, but Andre was King of Kings there. For one match he could pull off a six figure pay day, which was unheard of back then and rarely occurs now, but aside from the way he was treated and the fans he enjoyed; Andre hated Japan. Andre struggled with things in America that’s made for the average man who is 5’10” tall. So imagine the difficulties he had in a country where everything was built for the average man that was 5’ 2”.
Andre accomplished many things during his short time with us, from the hilarious role of Fezzik in the Princess Bride, to his sports entertainment career. But his biggest feat in the industry would happen on March 29, 1987 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. Andre the Giant faced off against Hulk Hogan in the main event, for the WWF Championship, at Wrestlemania III. This event held the indoor record for a sporting event in North America, with an attendance of 93,173, until the 2010 NBA All Star Game. This was a crowning achievement in both sports entertainment and Andre’s career.
Hogan was also petrified before the match because it was the one time that Hogan, at the time he was 305 pounds and 6’7”, was afraid his opponent wouldn’t do the “job” and lose to him. What do you do to Andre if he refuses to lose and decides he should be the champion?
But Andre stayed true to the business and put Hogan over for the giant’s first loss in sixteen years.
In addition to his in-ring career, Andre also had success out of the ring and onto the silver screen playing the loveable giant, Fezzik, in The Princess Bride. Deservingly, Andre the Giant was the inaugural inductee in the WWE (formerly WWF) Hall of Fame that debuted in 1994.
Image Credit: AP / WWE