He was the largest athlete the world had ever seen, and was professional wrestling's most famous attraction throughout the 1970s and much of the
1980s. Standing 7'4" and weighing between 475 and 540 pounds over the course of his career, he truly earned his nickname of "The Eighth Wonder of the
By the time he was 12, the boy stood 6'3" and weighed in at 200 pounds. This was due to the fact that he was born with acromegaly, a disorder that
causes the bones to grow at an accelerated rate, and to continue to grow beyond the age of physical maturity.
Determined to use his abnormal size to his advantage, Andre entered the world of professional wrestling as a very young man. At the beginning of 1973,
the 27-year-old Rousimoff came under the wing of Vincent K. McMahon and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Though the company would change
dramatically, Andre would remain with the McMahon family for the next 20 years.
In an era when the sport was very regionalized, Andre the Giant became one of the rare exceptions: a performer who was at the top of the card wherever
he went, a major star who was known to fans in every territory. His crossover celebrity status was such that he appeared as a guest on the Tonite
Show, and even had a cameo role on the Six-Million Dollar Man playing Bigfoot.
His rivalries with the likes of "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd, Don Leo Jonathan and Blackjack Mulligan are the stuff of legend. At the WWE's 1976 Shea Stadium
event, he engaged in a boxer vs. wrestler confrontation with Chuck Wepner, in which he hurled the "Bayonne Bleeder" out of the ring and into the third
row. Four years later, he had his first encounter with Hulk Hogan when the WWE returned to Shea. One of the most memorable rivalries of the time was
with Killer Khan, who broke Andre's ankle in 1981, leading to the infamous "Mongolian Stretcher Match" between the two.
Through it all, Andre maintained an incredible undefeated streak the likes of which has never been seen before or since.
By the mid 80s, his condition was beginning to take its toll on his body. He was slowing down and putting on more and more weight. Still, he remained
an integral part of the WWE's national expansion during the era of Hulkamania. He was victorious over Big John Studd in the Bodyslam Challenge at the
first WrestleMania in 1985, and added to his record for most battle royals won by surviving just such a match the following year at WrestleMania 2.
His career took an alarming turn in 1987 when he turned on his long-time friend Hulk Hogan and hired Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as his manager. The
result was his first-ever shot at the WWE Heavyweight Championship. With 93,173 fans in attendance, Andre clashed with the Hulkster at WrestleMania
III in the biggest match of all time.
Andre did finally win the title from Hogan in a controversial match the following year, only to give it up moments later. He also held the WWE Tag
Team title with Haku for a few months in 1990. But much more than those accomplishments, Andre will be remembered for the years he reigned supreme as
the most famous Superstar wrestling had ever produced. He finally succumbed to his life-long illness in 1993, and shortly thereafter became the first
inductee of the WWE Hall of Fame. Truly a fitting honor for the one and only Andre the Giant, the Eighth Wonder of the World.
WWE Hall of fame