Hulk Hogan Mourns Passing of Role Model Andre the Giant 28 Years Ago Today

by Joe Rutland

Andre the Giant, one of pro wrestling’s truly big performers, died 28 years ago on Wednesday. Hulk Hogan pays honor this memory.

Hogan and Andre had memorable pro wrestling matches throughout their careers.

In a message Hogan shared on Twitter, he mentions some of the things he learned from the giant Frenchman about pro wrestling. There also are some flashback photos of them in and out of the ring, too.

In fact, Hogan was one of the only pro wrestlers who truly ever managed to body slam Andre to the mat. A popular story that people have told over and over again is that Hogan was the first to do so.

That wasn’t the case, though.

A couple of years before Hogan body-slammed Andre at a WrestleMania III match for the then-World Wrestling Federation, longtime NWA Heavyweight Champion Harley Race did it at The Summit in Houston, Texas on Jan. 7, 1979.

Andre the Giant Left Indelible Mark On Pro Wrestling

Now anyone who saw Andre the Giant in the ring might have wondered how big he truly was in real life.

Well, Andre Roussimoff (his real name) stood more than 7 feet tall and weighed more than 300 pounds. Andre was born with what’s called gigantism, which is caused by excess growth hormone. That also led to him suffering from acromegaly.

His hands were more than double the size of a normal man’s one. Andre traveled all over the world and had to deal with having special arrangements made for him to sit, sleep, and other things, too.

But the professional wrestling world had not seen anyone like Andre before he hit the ring. He was known as “The Eighth Wonder of the World” in pro wrestling circles and was a fan favorite in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Throughout a large part of his career, Vince McMahon Sr., founder of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, handled Andre’s bookings. McMahon Sr., the father of current WWE Chairman Vince McMahon Jr., would loan Andre out to other pro wrestling promotions as long as he got a cut of the gate, too.

That’s why Andre was able to wrestle in high-profile markets like Houston for Paul Boesch, St. Louis for Sam Muchnick, Los Angeles for Gene LeBell, and in other ones, too.

Andre Finds Himself As An Icon In, Out Of Pro Wrestling

Near the end of his time in WWF/WWE, Andre was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and went from good guy to bad guy. That led to his match against Hogan, one of the business’s biggest babyfaces (or “good guys”) ever to enter the squared circle.

Andre’s health began to deteriorate and he was forced to retire in 1992.

He made his name also in movies, especially in “The Princess Bride” as Fezzik. Andre was an icon in and out of the ring, and those in the business had at least one story of Andre’s prodigious appetite for food and beverage alike.

After he retired from pro wrestling, Roussimoff returned to his native France. He died on Jan. 27, 1993, in Paris of congestive heart failure. He was 46 years old.

In 2018, HBO Documentaries put together a full-length view of the ups and downs of Andre’s life. Interviews done for that documentary included Hogan, Vince McMahon Jr., Jerry “The King” Lawler, Ric Flair, and Gene Okerlund.

Andre the Giant remains a name and figure pro wrestling fans young and old alike remember for his skills. He also was able to take something that was out of his control, namely his height and size issues, and turn them into an asset.

It’s fair to say that pro wrestling will never see someone like Andre the Giant ever again.