André the Giant is one of the few immediately identifiable persons. He was a living leviathan among men who, with his larger-than-life physique and dominating personality, helped to alter professional wrestling. Even people who aren’t followers of the sport behind André’s career know who he is — his fame transcended wrestling. It solidified him as a type of pop-culture obsession, similar to Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson. André has been the topic of everything from street art to tee-shirts to movies due to this. Wherever he went, his bulk provoked dread, amazement, and intrigue, as well as fantastic legends that defied belief.
Because of a mix of pre-internet period documentation, a lack of verification from sources such as family members, and André himself, even fundamental facts concerning André have been muddied. Nevertheless, he recognised the power of a good tale and, like many wrestlers at the time, used embellishment and shock value to enhance his image. Consequently, separating the truth from rumour and innuendo may be difficult – something the pro wrestling business appears to thrive on, which only adds fuel to the fire. The Eighth Wonder of the World, a biography of André, has uncovered new information from family members and other hitherto unknown sources. Even the most ardent wrestling fans were unaware of this previously unknown fact, prompting a fresh look at André the Giant’s intriguing, inspirational, and tragic life and death.
André René Roussimoff was known for his stature from the time he was born. On May 19, 1946, when he was born at 3:10 p.m., he weighed more than 13 pounds — the average weight of a four-month-old infant! André was so big that his mother had to deliver him in the hospital rather than at home, as she had done with her previous two children.
André was a regular youngster who spent his youth helping his parents maintain their farm in their rural birthplace of Molien, France, despite his grand stature. The Roussimoffs seldom went hungry, but their modest agricultural lifestyle left little opportunity for luxury or excess. Unless someone in the community offered to drive them, the children received oranges instead of presents for Christmas and walked one and a half kilometres to and from school.
Samuel Beckett, the great Irish author, dramatist, and Nobel Prize winner who relocated to France in 1937, was one of them. According to rumours, Beckett went out of his way to transport André, who was already too big for a school bus. This is incorrect; the little community simply did not have any school buses; thus, all residents’children had to walk to school.
André was loved and happy at home, but he yearned for more than a life on the farm. Genetics and destiny would give him his dream, forever altering the Roussimoff family tree and the professional wrestling environment in the process.
Height & Weight
Andre’s actual height has yet to be determined. He was frequently reported as 7-foot-4 during his wrestling career, although the world of wrestling is prone to exaggeration. His French passport listed his height in metres, which translates to slightly about 7 feet 2 inches. Andre might have stood up to three inches shorter than 7 feet, according to some estimates.
Andre was stated to weigh 520 pounds on many occasions, although this might be another wrestling exaggeration. When he died, his weight was described as ranging from 380 pounds to 555 pounds.
“What God gave me, I utilise it to earn a livelihood,” Andre famously said, and his stature helped him dominate the world of wrestling. Under the name Jean wrestling in France in 1966. Andre also competed in Japan under the moniker Monster Roussimoff before moving to Quebec in 1971.
By 1973, Andre was known as “Andre the Giant” and worked for the World Wide Wrestling Federation with Vincent McMahon Sr (which later became WWE). Andre became dubbed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” as his celebrity expanded. He wrestled worldwide throughout his career, visiting Europe, Mexico, Japan, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
Andre was the villain at Wrestlemania III in 1987, when he went off against Hulk Hogan. Andre was advertised as an unbeaten wrestler who had never been body-slammed at the event (neither of which was true). Nevertheless, Hogan defeated Andre in front of a big audience (but not the 93,000 claimed by WWE).
Andre underwent back surgery after Wrestlemania III (claims that he had been operated on before the event seem to be false). Until 1991, he worked with McMahon in a decreasingly important manner. Andre continued to wrestle until just before his death, despite his condition deteriorating. On December 4, 1992, he played his last match in Japan.
Andre wrestled in almost 5,000 battles throughout his career and was the first individual to work his way into the WWE Hall of Fame.
André’s movie career propelled him even more into the spotlight when he moved on from wrestling. When special effects technology was more restricted, his storybook stature made him ideal for fantasy jobs.
His most notable role was as a howling Sasquatch in The Six Million Dollar Man. He was labelled “CGI before there was CGI” in the documentary André, the Giant.
André is most known for playing Fezzik the Giant, a kind and generous Giant in 1987’s The Princess Bride, a role that allowed his genial demeanour to flourish alongside his physical capabilities. His endearing grin and witty retorts are a big reason for the film’s enduring popularity among generations of moviegoers.
Many people are unaware that André began honing his acting skills while still in the early stages of his wrestling career. André made his big screen debut in the French espionage thriller Casse-tête chinois pour le judoka (or “Chinese Puzzle for the Judoka”) in 1967.
Robin Christensen-Roussimoff, Andre’s daughter, was born in 1979. Jean Christensen, Andre’s mother, was not married and had a rough co-parenting relationship. This, along with Andre’s hectic wrestling schedule, made it impossible for him to visit his daughter.
When her father had matches in Seattle, Robin would meet up with him, and the two would talk on the phone. “Perhaps if he had lived longer, I might have had a deeper connection with him,” she has remarked. In his will, Andre named Robin as the primary beneficiary.
Life of the party
André’s career grew, as did the numerous luminaries who would surround him for the remainder of his brief life. Countless stories persist about his incredible abilities and appetites, many of which are real.
Even though he began his career as a modest drinker, his drinking capacity was impressive by the time he reached his peak. Ric Flair detailed a 14-hour travel from Chicago to Tokyo on ESPN’s Dan Le Batard Show, in which André drained their commercial jet empty of vodka. While working on the set of The Princess Bride, he allegedly racked up a $40,000 bar tab. André allegedly consumed a case of wine in three hours, according to Hulk Hogan. He was also notorious for his pranks, which often featured large volumes of shared farts.
Unfortunately, André’s severe drinking habits were increasingly motivated by his worsening health than his desire to party as the years passed. André weighed in at 550 pounds at his heaviest, a far cry from the lean, technical-style wrestler who preferred dairy to drink. We can only imagine what the huge hangover was like after one of his escapades
André looked for methods to escape his anguish when it became intolerable. However, after seeing other wrestlers fall to addiction, he rejected prescribed medications favouring what he considered the lesser of two evils: pushing on through a cloud of anguish and alcohol.
Cost of becoming a legend
André’s impressive girth also restricted his movement in ways that few people are ever forced to contemplate.
Nothing ever suited him unless it was specially tailored to his measurements. So imagine the pain André felt in everyday goods like chairs, mattresses, toilets, aircraft seats, shoes, and vehicles throughout his life, no matter where he travelled.
Because he couldn’t fit on standard-sized chairs, he had to poop into buckets or bathtubs and take up at least two seats while flying.
Acromegaly not only gave Andre problems, but it also caused him constant and ever-worsening agony, particularly in his knees, back, and neck. His joints couldn’t take the strain of carrying all much weight, and his weariness and other symptoms worsened with the pain. He used wires to capture Robin Wright during a critical sequence in The Princess Bride because things were awful.
He shattered his ankle in 1981, and the writing was on the wall for him. He was well aware that his wrestling days were limited. He told Vince McMahon, Jr., with whom he’d built a friendship over the years, and McMahon, taking André’s trust seriously, gave André a chance to bring his famous career to a close.
Andre was found dead in a Paris hotel room on January 28, 1993, 46. Due to congestive heart failure, which was connected to his untreated acromegaly.
Andre had wished to be cremated while in France for his father’s funeral and see his relatives. But, unfortunately, his remains had to be shipped back to the United States as no cremation in France was large enough for the job. So instead, his ashes were sprinkled on his North Carolina property.
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