André René Roussimoff passed away in 1993 but he remains one of the world’s most famous wrestlers. Here are a few facts about the gigantic French grappler.
- André suffered from acromegaly, which created an excessive amount of growth hormone in his body. By age 12, he was 6’3” and weighed 240 pounds. He couldn’t fit in the school bus, so he hitched a ride to school each day from his neighbor who had a pickup truck: Waiting for Godot author Samuel Beckett.
- André dropped out of school in the eighth grade under the assumption that he would work as a farmer for the rest of his life. He eventually quit and moved to Paris where he worked as a mover until he caught the eye of a local wrestling promoter. At first, André wrestled under the alias “Géant Ferré,” the name of a French folk hero from the Hundred Years War.
- His wrestling career really took off after he began appearing at matches in Japan during the early ‘70s, and was hired by Vince McMahon Sr. to work for the World Wrestling Federation as “André the Giant.”
- André’s reign at the top of the WWF came to an end after he agreed to “turn heel” in 1987, or “play the villain.” The rising popularity of Hulk Hogan meant that it was time for a new king of the ring. The two began a public feud with one another that culminated in an epic match that year at Wrestlemania III. At the time, André weighed a staggering 520 pounds, which made what happened next all the more amazing. Hogan (who won the match) managed to bodyslam his colossal opponent in front of a crowd of 93,173 spectators.
- In January of 1993, André returned to Paris to attend his father’s funeral. He later died of heart failure in a hotel room. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at his ranch in Ellerbe, North Carolina.