Step into the wrestling arena with Andre the Giant, the legendary figure who captivated generations of fans! In this comprehensive article, delve into the fascinating world of this extraordinary wrestler and discover what made him one of the greatest champions of all time.
Andre the Giant’s Childhood
Andre was born on May 19, 1946 in France. Some legends, like the one spread by his first manager Edouard Carpentier, claimed he was born in Grenoble. But that’s false, Andre was born in Coulommiers, east of Paris. He spent his childhood in Molien, 13 miles from Coulommiers. His father, Boris Roussimoff, was born in Bulgaria and his mother, Marian Marascek, in Poland. Andre was the third of five children. His parents were farmers.
Early signs of growth disorder started to appeare when Andre was 14. At this age he was already 6’3″ tall and weighed 202 pounds. He couldn’t fit in the school bus and had to find other solutions. Samuel Beckett, the famous Irish playwright who lived nearby, offered to take him to school in his truck. Andre was a good student, particularly in math. However, he stopped his studies at 14 because they were useless to become a farmworker and were no longer mandatory.
He spent several years working in the fields with his family. According to his brother, he could do the work of three men. Later, he completed an apprenticeship in carpentry and worked in a factory that produced pick-up press engines. But none of these activities gave him full satisfaction.
Shortly after, he was exempted from military service because he couldn’t fit in his uniform. The army didn’t want to bother making a custom-made suit for him.
“he could do the work of three men”
He left for Paris to find work and quickly caught the attention of people with his unusual size. Étienne Siry was the first to spot him while Andre was cutting wood. He convinced him to try wrestling in the school he managed. Andre was then 17 years old.
Andre later switched to a different wrestling school, worked as a mover during the day, and trained in the evening. At 20 years old, he was 2.11m tall, weighed 146kg, and wore a shoe size of 58. Shortly after, he became the French wrestling champion.
Borders then opened up for him, and he was seen fighting in the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and Africa.
In 1970, he joined the Japanese wrestling federation, International Wrestling Enterprise (IWE). It was also around this time that he learned he had acromegaly.
Shortly after, in 1971, he fought in Quebec and was preparing to join the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation), which would later become the WWF and the predecessor of the current WWE.
In 1973, he made his debut with the WWWF. During this period, he fought all over the world, facing notable opponents such as boxer Chuck Wepner, who was heroic against Mohammed Ali, and Hulk Hogan, a few years before their legendary fight.
A legend is born
In 1980, the WWWF became the WWF (World Wrestling Federation). With this new name, wrestling was about to experience worldwide and growing success, thanks to the influence of Andre the Giant. Following a lawsuit filed by the World Wildlife Fund in 2002, WWF had to change its name and became the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
In 1981, Andre became the first wrestler to be featured in Sports Illustrated magazine. He developed numerous rivalries in the ring, with the most memorable being with Big John Studd and Hulk Hogan. In 1987, one of the greatest fights of all time took place: Wrestlemania III. Andre faced a highly energized Hulk Hogan that night. The match was held at the Silverdome in Detroit in front of a record crowd of 93,000 spectators. Against all odds, Hogan managed to lift and flip Andre, just as Andre likes to do with everyone else. This defeat put an end to 15 years of invincibility in the ring.
This fight was a turning point in Andre’s career as he started to slow down and became less frequently seen on the ring due to his multiple health issues.
He fought his last match on December 4, 1992.
End of life
Andre passed away on January 27, 1993, from a heart attack in Paris. He had returned to France to attend the funeral of his father, who had passed away a week earlier. He was found dead in his hotel room bed. His name is inscribed on a stele with his parents. His ashes, on the other hand, were scattered on his ranch in North Carolina, in accordance with his wishes.
How tall was Andre the giant ?
Andre the Giant, the legendary French wrestler and actor, was known for his exceptional height. His height has often been a subject of debate and admiration for many fans and journalists. According to various sources, he measured between 7 feet 0.5 inches (2.15 meters) and 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 meters) in height, and weighed between 475 and 550 pounds (215 to 250 kilograms) throughout his career.
While his height was exaggerated in the United States, it was not overstated in Britain. According to former British wrestler David Street, Andre actually measured only 6’11”, which is still an impressive height but not as high as announced across the Atlantic. According to Street, Andre may not have reached his maximum height yet and did not yet have his famous afro hairstyle.
It is important to note that the acromegaly disease, which Andre suffered from, can cause excessive growth of bones and body tissues, which may explain his exceptional height. The figures regarding his height are based on anecdotes and memories from his colleagues and friends, so it is difficult to know precisely what his exact height was.
However, it is worth noting that his passport indicated a height of 2m18, which is equivalent to approximately 7 feet 2 inches. Despite not being exaggerated in Britain, Andre remains one of the most iconic wrestlers of all time, with an impressive height that has marked the history of this spectacular sport.
OBEY and Andre
As a student, the future world-renowned artist Frank Sheppard Fairey decided with some friends to launch a street art campaign: “Andre the Giant has posses. 7’4″, 520 lb”. The campaign began with the printing of stickers, scattered throughout the city. This campaign was a humorous nod to hip-hop counterculture. Its influence would surpass borders and thousands of stickers would be scattered around the world. In 1998, threatened with legal action for the fraudulent use of the trademark “Andre the Giant”, Frank Sheppard had to act and change his artistic strategy. He then created what would become one of the strongest global symbols of street art: Obey Giant. This creation aims to parody capitalist propaganda. Therefore, in the image, we find Andre’s face and the famous “Obey” below. The image has since been present everywhere in the world in all imaginable forms (a map listing them is available at this link).
Beer, restaurant, Princess Bride and Arnold: the incredible anecdotes of Andre the giant
The folklore says that he consumed 7,000 alcohol calories per day, drank 72 double vodka shots in one session, and passed out in a hotel lobby after finishing 119 beers. Unable to carry the sleeping giant to his room, the story continues, Andre’s companions had no choice but to disguise him as furniture by hiding him under a piano cover.
Alain Carpentier: “Once I had a flat tire with my Simca 1000, he did the jack.”
Sometimes, Andre would rent up to three seats on a jumbo jet to fit his massive frame.
Andre ate enormously; his capacity to ingest everything exceeded understanding. His manager at the time recalls that when someone disturbed Andre at the table, he said, “I’ll order the menu, and if I eat it all, the bill is on your ass.” And that’s what happened. Andre also drank a lot of alcohol—7,000 drink calories per day, to be exact. His wrestler friend, Ric Flair, recounts how they once emptied an airplane’s vodka stock during a 747 flight. Andre also had the habit of drinking six bottles of wine before stepping into the ring. He often drank more than 100 beers in a short period. Tim White, a referee and friend, said that he sometimes ate 15 steaks and 12 lobsters at a restaurant. Bon appétit.
In addition to these amazing stories, there is another amusing anecdote about Andre the Giant. According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Andre once carried him to a restaurant in Paris. Schwarzenegger was in town filming a movie and, being a fan of Andre’s, he was thrilled when they crossed paths. Andre was so large that he could not fit in a taxi, so he offered to carry Schwarzenegger instead. The weight of the two men was so much that the floorboards creaked and threatened to give way, much to the amusement of the other patrons in the restaurant.
Here are more fun facts about the giant:
- In a match against Big John Studd, Andre picked up Studd, who weighed over 360 pounds, and dumped him over the top rope.
- At a bar in Japan, Andre drank 156 beers in one sitting, which is a world record that still stands today.
- At a restaurant, Andre once ordered 16 steaks, 12 lobsters, and a case of beer for dinner. He ate it all in one sitting.” – Source: “Andre the Giant: Life and Legend” by Box Brown.
- At a hotel, Andre was once stuck in a bathtub because he was too large to get out. The hotel staff had to bring in a construction crane to lift him out.
- It was ALWAYS Andre who paid the restaurant bill.
- Nobel Prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett took him to school.
- He could carry four women at once.
- He measured 1.80 meters (5’11”) and weighed 90 kg (198 lbs) at 12 years old.
- Andre inspired Hugo Andore in the video game Street Fighter.
- The WWE Battle Royal trophy now bears his name, and the statue is modeled after him.
“One time I got a flat tire with my Simca 1000, he did the jack.”
The Mythical Strength of Andre the Giant
Andre the Giant was a legendary wrestler and a larger-than-life personality. His feats of strength and size continue to be discussed and celebrated long after his passing. From lifting pianos to drinking hundreds of beers in one sitting, Andre’s strength and charisma have become the stuff of legends.
One of Andre’s most famous feats of strength happened during a match against Big John Studd, where he picked up Studd, who weighed over 360 pounds, and dumped him over the top rope. This was an incredible display of strength and agility, as Andre was known for his massive size and weight.
Despite his size, Andre was also known for his sense of humor. During a plane ride, a flight attendant asked him to put on a seatbelt, to which Andre responded, “I can’t wear this. It won’t fit.” When the flight attendant insisted, Andre picked him up and put him on his lap. This moment showed that Andre was not only strong but also playful and jovial.
In a hotel lobby, Andre once lifted a piano with one hand and moved it to a more suitable location. This incredible feat of strength left onlookers in awe and further cemented Andre’s reputation as a true giant.
One of the most famous moments in Andre’s career happened during a wrestling match against Hulk Hogan, where Andre lifted Hogan off the ground and held him there for several seconds before slamming him to the mat. This moment was immortalized in wrestling history and remains one of the most memorable matches of all time.
Andre’s strength was not limited to the wrestling ring. He once lifted a car over his head and carried it across a parking lot just to impress his friends. He also won a prize at a carnival by picking up a car and carrying it 15 feet without dropping it. He also overturned a car with four people in it barehanded.
Despite his superhuman strength, Andre was also known for his kindness and humility. He never boasted about his accomplishments and always treated his fans with respect and admiration.
In conclusion, Andre the Giant was a true legend of strength and charisma. His feats of strength and size continue to inspire and fascinate people today, and his larger-than-life personality will always be remembered as a symbol of resilience and determination.
Hall of fame
The WWE trophy dedicated to Andre the Giant is a commemorative trophy created by WWE to honor the legendary wrestler Andre the Giant, who is considered one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. The trophy was introduced in 2014 at a special event called the “Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal” at WrestleMania 30. The winner of the Battle Royal receives the Andre the Giant trophy, which stands over 7 feet tall and weighs over 500 pounds.
Andre the Giant was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1993, two years after his death. This ceremony marked the official recognition of his outstanding career in the world of professional wrestling. Wrestling legends Hulk Hogan and Tim White paid tribute to Andre at the ceremony, recalling his performances in the ring as well as his unique personality. His more than 20-year career was marked by memorable moments, including his legendary match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, which attracted over 93,000 spectators.
Andre’s induction into the Hall of Fame also helped to raise awareness of his life outside of the ring. Andre was known for his incredible size and strength, but he was also recognized for his gentle personality and generosity towards his friends and family. The induction served to remind the public of his contribution to popular culture and his place in the history of professional wrestling.
The Andre the Giant trophy has become an important element of WrestleMania, and the winners of the Battle Royal have become wrestlers to watch in the following years. The trophy is also considered a fitting tribute to Andre the Giant, who was one of the most important figures in WWE history and who won numerous titles and awards throughout his career. In short, WWE created the trophy to honor one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and to commemorate his legacy in the world of professional wrestling.
In conclusion, Andre the Giant was a legendary figure in wrestling who captivated generations of fans. He was born in France to Bulgarian and Polish parents, and his childhood was marked by his unusual height and physical appearance. After a successful wrestling career in France, he traveled the world and became one of the greatest champions of all time, with notable fights against Hulk Hogan and Big John Studd. Andre’s career in the wrestling industry marked a turning point in its worldwide and growing success. Hindered by numerous health problems, Andre slowed down and became increasingly rare towards the end of his career. Andre passed away on January 27, 1993, from a heart attack in Paris at the age of 46. His name remains inscribed on a stele with his parents, and his ashes were scattered on his ranch in North Carolina, in accordance with his wishes. Despite the debate around his exact height, Andre’s impact on the wrestling industry and his fans around the world remains unparalleled.
- “André the Giant: A Legendary Life” by Michael Krugman
- “The Eighth Wonder of the World: The True Story of André the Giant” by Bertrand Hébert and Pat Laprade
- “Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven” by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri
- “Andre the Giant: Life and Legend” by Box Brown
- “WWE: Andre the Giant” by Brandon Easton and Denis Medri
- “The Princess Bride” (1987) – André played the role of Fezzik
- “Conan the Destroyer” (1984) – André played the role of Dagoth
- “Micki & Maude” (1984) – André played the role of Bobo
- “Trading Mom” (1994) – André played the role of Huge
- “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1994) – Documentary about André’s life
- Andre the giant HBO Documentary
And some nice shirts: