Andre the Giant
, real name Andre Rousimoff, was one of the most well-known and respected professional wrestler
s in the world. Originally from a small farm
, he left home in his adolescence
to become a pro wrestler. Being 7'4" and over 500 pounds, the sight of him alone was enough to draw huge crowds. After touring the world with different promotions for many, many years, he was picked up by the World Wide Wrestling Federation (which would later change its name to the World Wrestling Federation
in the late 1970s).
Andre was obviously a very imposing figure -- it is said that he never tested the full extent of his true strength
because he was afraid of the damage it might cause. Some of Andre's opponents were legitimately afraid to get in the ring with him for fear of getting accidentally crushed or pulverized, but those who got to know him soon learned that his personality was perhaps one of the gentle
st in the world.
It is also said that Andre could drink an entire case of beer
and not feel so much as a buzz
He was one of the WWF
's most beloved babyface
s throughout the 1970s and early '80s, and was in fact undefeated for over ten years (before losing in 1987, his last defeat was sometime prior to 1977). He was turned heel
in 1987 so that he could face Hulk Hogan
for the WWF Championship
in the main event
of Wrestlemania III
. This was the most highly anticipated professional wrestling
matchup in history -- the apex of wrestling's golden era
. The event, held at the Pontiac Silverdome
, broke the indoor attendance record with over ninety thousand
fans in attendance, with many, many more watching on Pay-Per-View
. Hogan defeated Andre, in what many experts believe was a passing of the torch from Andre, wrestling's biggest star of the '70s, to Hogan, wrestling's biggest star of the '80s.
Andre also starred in several movies at around the same time, most notably as Fezzik
in The Princess Bride
Unfortunately, the disease
that granted him his immense size also began to take its toll on his body, as by the late 1980s Andre was in constant, near-crippling pain
and his heart
struggled to pump blood
throughout his massive being.
He stopped competing in the very early 1990s due to the increasing pain
his illness was causing him, retiring to his winery
. His heart
finally failed him in 1993, and Andre passed away peacefully in his sleep at a hotel in Paris
while in town for his father
He is greatly missed.